Saturday, July 26, 2014

Queen of the Night

It was a cool autumn night. The moon had painted a landscape of ethereal charm and the crickets were busy singing their merry song. The house of my maternal aunt, which stood on a small hillock in north Kerala, was bathed in moonlight and the mystique and charm of the ancient. Almost a century old, it was a two-storied house. The wooden stairs in the central corridor creaked, while they led me to the attic. My destination was the library in the attic, a delight to my bibliophilic heart. In addition, it overlooked the garden.  I had come to attend the marriage of my cousin, which was two days from then. I had chosen the library, which had a single bed to spend the night.

The light breeze was laden with the rich, sweet and intoxicating fragrance of the Parijata, the Queen of the night. It was a fragrance, which talked of longing, of love and heavenly tales. The Parijata tree that stood at the farthest corner of the garden was heavily laden with blooms.

 That morning, an old neighborhood woman had told me the tale of the Parijata tree while I was arranging the fallen yet beautiful snow-white flowers with the coral core, in a glass bowl. The story had touched the romantic in me.

Once a princess named Pārijāta fell in love with the sun. Sun being the wanderer did not return her love and soon deserted her.  Depressed, she committed suicide and a tree sprung from the ashes, the tree of Parijata. To avoid seeing the sun, the lover who had rejected her, the tree bloomed only at night and shed the blooms at sunrise.

Intrigued by the tale, I researched more about the flower on my phone internet. There were many links to extol the virtues of the Parijata.

 Hindus considered it of heavenly origin and protected it. According to mythology, the Parijata tree was one of the gifts that had surfaced during the churning of the ocean of milk by the Gods and Demons. Indra had planted it in his heavenly garden and lord Krishna at the request of his wives Satyabhama and Rukmini had brought the tree to earth. They quarreled over as to where the tree ought to be planted. But Krishna planted the tree in Satyabhama's courtyard in a way that when the tree flowered, the flowers fell in Rukmini's courtyard, thus ending the quarrel. Ha..Even gods were not free from the menace of wifely tantrums.

·   The Parijata flowers resembled miniature mandalas or the universe with pure white petals unfolding from a bright orange center. The ancient sages considered the flower as symbolic of fire or agni, the purifying flame of awareness. It burnt away the uncertainties of the mind to reveal the petals of purified consciousness.

    According to the Charak Samhita, the earliest known text on Ayurveda, sweet smells maintain youthfulness and vigor, and give a long life. They are rejuvenating, and increase sensual enjoyment. Therefore, people used these flowers in incenses and as flower offerings to gods and goddesses.
·        The flower is the official flower of the Indian state of West Bengal and Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand.
    It is also called as the Tree of Sorrow, the Queen of the Night, the Coral Jasmine, the Prajakta in Sanskrit and Pavizha Malli in Malayalam.

    The leaves, Bark, Stem, Flowers, Seeds and flower oils had various medicinal properties and were used extensively in Ayurveda and Homoeopathy.


    The Parijata Attar, if applied on wrist pulse points, heart chakra, ear lobes or twirl through the hair awaken bliss.

When I went to bed that day, my dreams were clouded with visuals of a sad princess who was shedding copious tears. Her tears when they touched the earth became the Parijata flowers.

Early next morning, I walked through a carpet of the fallen Parijata flowers with a heart overwhelmed with sadness. I empathized with her, her sadness, and her urge to shrink away from her lover, the sun.

The fragrance that lingered on my hands spoke of her unrequited love, the tears the tree shed on the caress from the first rays of the sun. A love, which was destined to be eternal, a fragrance destined to comfort during the dark hours of the night, to dance in the arms of the night breeze.

This post is written as part of a contest organised by Godrej aer and Indiblogger.


Can you inspire us with your evocative travel experience to help us create the first crowd-inspired fragrances for Godrej aer? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Black is Beautiful

Black is beautiful in my opinion.

Black stands out as the most controversial and happening color in the history of humanity. It intrigued him, scared him, awed him and even made him feel good.

There were times in which he dreaded the color black. It was the color of mourning, of death, of sadness, of disease, of the dark and the evil.

At times it told stories when it represented the color of the written word. It made him laugh with the language of caricatures, cartoons and jokes. It portrayed beauty when artists of various eras used charcoal, graphite and coal to render the beauties that surrounded them.

It became the highest fashion statement, the sign of elegance starting from the early 14th century. Nobles, diplomats and politicians began to adhere to the color black in their public appearances. Black was no more the colour of mourning.

It represented the color of the oppressed, of the slaves during the colonial conquests and slave trades. The black skinned people were abused and treated like untouchables for centuries in many American colonies. Four million slaves were freed after the American Civil War. But racial discrimination continues unabashedly in many of the European and American countries.

It was also associated with secrecy, the world wars and covert military operations.

It is also the color of protest.

It represents mystery quest as in the case of blackholes and black boxes of missing air planes.

In Hinduism, we have Kali-ma, the goddess of change and time whose name means –the one who is dark in color. Lord Krishna is said to have been black and yet is the most popular god among the Indian gods.

Many people still fear to wear black as they think it as a bad omen color. Black is just the absence of color. The color black absorbs all the seven colors into it and doesn't reflect back any of the colors of the spectrum of light. It doesn't harm the human aura. But doesn't benefit it also.

I prefer to buy accessories in black as they would go with any dress and gives less of a headache mixing and matching.

My wish list for five black things are:

1) A Dell Laptop

Dell Laptop

Reason: My laptop is beginning to show signs of having grown old and is begging for retirement.  Dell was the first laptop that I had called mine. So it is my first choice.Just look at the details of my choice.No one would ask for more reasons.

2) A Wacom Graphic Tablet

Reason: I love creating digital portraits. I have been saving to buy a graphic tablet since long. It will help me to draw onscreen with the same use as using a pen or pencil and will save me a lot of time. Drawing onscreen with a mouse is a BIG headache and will take hours and hours together to complete a full portrait.  This Wacom tablet is hence second on my wishlist

3) Anarkali with Lace neck and Sleeves

Reason: This Anarkali blew me over with its elegant cut and beautiful lace work. A lady always feels best when she is dressed elegantly and comfortably. But who needs a reason to indulge oneself?

Pernia's Popup shop
4) Jimmy Choo pumps

Reason: Any women will find it hard to neglect her Jimmy Choos. They may even sell a part of their soul to own one. It makes her more poised and her posture more feminine and graceful. The comfort and standard of this brand is amazing.

Jimmy Choo
5) Louise Vuitton Handbag
Reason:  Again I go for elegance, use and brand value. This is a handbag I would love to own. One I can take to any party or even on a day out with friends.
Louise Vuitton Handbag

Let us glorify the color black by this beautiful song where the singer Christy Moore confesses what the color black is for him.

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reading, my forever love

For me books always promised a safe haven.

A world where I could escape to, the moment I opened one.

When I was a little girl, whenever I visited a family friend or a relative, the moment I reached their house, I would look for books. Be it kids’ magazines, storybooks or even popular magazines. If I could find a handful of books, I didn’t care the amount of time we spend there. If the house seemed devoid of books, I looked down upon those people. Were they really human beings?

My love for books had given me the best library user award while in school. Wherever I live, the one building that I would surely enter was a library. Luckily, until now I have found good libraries wherever I went. Words are my bosom mates and reading my forever love.

A good library near and good books downloaded on my kindle...That takes me close to nirvana...

I have lost count of the number of books I have read, the number of lives I have lived through them. Lately I prefer happy reads and avoid thrillers and tragedies like plague. I wish to spare my poor nerves of the adrenalin rush and unnecessary tension.

I don’t think reading books has reduced dramatically in today’s youth. The library I visit is still crowded with youngsters. The many online pages of authors have young fans in majority. And who said being a nerd was bad and they became socially incapable?

I don’t agree. I am a bookworm and that has not transformed me into a socially incapable nerd.

Leaving you to ponder on a few quotes…


 This post is writtten for Indispire on Indiblogger.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Rich Homemade Chocolate Cake with Love

For the longest time, Bangalore in my memories had an aroma. It had the alluring smell of rich hot chocolate cake.

My first visit to Bangalore was during one cold December, to the house of my mother’s friend. Having slept off in the bus en route, I had woken up hours later to the smell of baking cakes. We had reached Achamma aunty’s house.

Aunty was a good cook and an expert in making cakes. For the first time, I tasted hot, home baked chocolate cake. It was soft and warm and made my taste buds jump with joy. The cool Bangalore atmosphere, combined with hot chocolate cake. It was ethereal. Aunty indulged me and I hogged cake day and night, fighting tooth and nail with my siblings who demanded their share.

The visit colored the memories of a six-year-old girl about Bangalore, permanently with the aroma of hot chocolate cake.

Years later, my husband was transferred to Bangalore, and we came with our three-year-old son. This time my mind’s eye, partial to the flavor of chocolate, commanded that I experiment with baking. Off I went, and purchased a ready-to-bake chocolate mix from the near-by super market. The cake was ready soon.

My taste buds protested...NO...NO...Not anywhere close!!

My son declared..” is tasteless”.

Sunshine came in the form of Achamma Aunty and she gave me the recipe for her famous chocolate cake.

“Use borosil bowls to bake. It will help keep the cake uniformly cooked and healthy,” she advised.

Eggs, curd, milk, cocoa powder, baking powder, butter, vanilla essence, flour…I had a host of things to purchase. Dropping my son at school, I rushed through the shopping and returned home to bake.

The whole procedure was a battle with the five senses, especially taste and sight. The ingredients well mixed and ready-to-bake tempted me. A war between my self-control and the dark –sweet-creamy- chocolaty batter with the faint whiff of vanilla essence began, the moment I poured it into the transparent borosil-mixing bowl. Only the glare of the light reflecting on the glass told me of the presence of a barrier to my 3-D temptation, making my stomach growl.

“Two or three spoons of cake batter is not going to do anything to your already damaged figure, lady..Come on..Try Me!” screamed the temptress.

I obeyed. No...I didn’t stop at two..Nor at three. I stopped after a few more spoons full, remembering the expectations of my toddler, who would arrive hungry. One who would howl like a baby monster if mummy monster didn't fulfill her promise of hot chocolate cake.

Keeping the bowl inside the pre-heated oven, I watched it turn. I too joined the jig, turning and swaying in glee. Setting the timer, I went to pick my son from school, which was just a stone’s throw away from our house.

Entering the house again, my heart flipped with happiness. In a blink, I went on a time travel down a cake scented memory lane. My house smelled like the Bangalore of my memories. The aroma of hot chocolate was wafting out from the kitchen.

“It smells yummy..Yay..chocolate,” chirped my happy son and together we waited for the oven to chime announcing that the cake was done. A toothpick inserted came out clean and taking the bowl out, we waited with our mouth open to allow the cake to cool down.

“Is it not cool yet..?” enquiries came every second from my son and my mind. I transferred the uniformly cooked cake into a transparent Borosil serving plate. Nothing should hinder the beauty of my dusky beauty.

We cut the cake together.

“Is it my birthday again?” he asked and I said ‘Yes Dear”

The warm inside of the chocolate cake when we cut into it, made me drool, tantalized me to touch and feel. The texture was just perfect. It was soft like silk.

We dug into it together. No..No..this time there was no need for mummy to feed him. He could eat it alone. After all, he was now three years old. Quite grown up, and smart enough to notice that mummy was eating more than he was. And to ban her from touching the plate again.


Don’t judge me people, if I confess that I sneaked off the best portion and hid it in a casserole, this time opaque, when he became engrossed in a problem Mickey mouse was trying to solve on television.

When my husband came home that day, the transparent serving plate from borosil was back on the dining table, inviting him, charming him, to taste the delicious, moist and rich chocolate cake, which oozed (*I insisted*) with my love for him.

 This post is written as part of My beautiful food, a contest organised my Indiblogger and