Archive for November, 2011

Exotic spices – Saffron and Vanilla

November 22, 2011 4 comments

Today, I watched an exciting episode of “The Spice Trail” on BBC Knowledge that prompted this post.  It was interesting to see what makes spices like saffron and vanilla so exotic and special.


Coming from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice.  Each saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas,which are each the distal end of a carpel.  Together with the styles, or stalks that connect the stigmas to their host plant, the dried stigmas are used mainly in various cuisines as a seasoning and colouring agent. Iran
accounts with 95% of the worlds production  Spain only produces 300 kg, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Afghanistan produce most of the rest (in that order).

The programme showed how the Moroccans grow these flowers in small gardens and how they value it like gold.  Families collect the flowers and hand-pick the stigmas to collect the saffron which is stored in boxes and locked like a treasure.


The main species harvested for vanilla is vanilla planifolia. Although the vanilla plant, an orchid, is native to Mexico, it is now widely grown throughout the tropics with Madagascar being the world’s largest producer. The Totonaca people of the Gulf coast of Mexico were probably the first people to cultivate vanilla plants. They taught many other indigenous people how to grow vanilla plants during MesoAmerican times, and they continue to cultivate the fruit that they consider was given to them by the gods.

For more interesting reading on these spices, you may visit these links: 



Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Adoring Vishnu

November 19, 2011 2 comments

Today, I got the opportunity to see a first-of-its-kind exhibition on Vaishnava traditions showcased at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple.

Adoring Vishnu-Vaishnava Traditions in South and Southeast Asia provides in-depth insights into the origins of Vishnu – the well-known Indian deity – in South Asia, and his subsequent influences on visual and performing art traditions in the region.

The exhibition is organised by the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) and the National Heritage Board.

The exhibition includes engaging visual displays and interactive stations on Vaishnavism

(Pictures: courtesy IHC & NHB)

Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Mistakes – stepping stones to success

November 17, 2011 3 comments

Albert Einstein said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.

If we look at the milestones in a child’s development A child learns to crawl, stand with support, walk freely and talk by taking risks making mistakes and falling along the way.

Learning any new skill involves taking risks and making mistakes. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and start afresh. A person who is afraid to take risk and make mistakes will find it difficult to learn any new skill.

When making a choice there is no right or wrong. We have to exercise our choice after discerning with our intellect and also taking a balanced decision using our mind and heart to make a choice which we think will be the best for us. However, there is always the possibility of errors of judgement .

Our great scientists and innovators like Edison, Einstein, Newton etc have experimented and failed repeatedly before success came to them.

Before Thomas Edison made the first light bulb, he made several thousand unsuccessful ones. When he was interviewed by a reporter about his many failures, Edison is said to have replied, “I have not failed. I’ve discovered ten thousand ways which don’t work.”

We have to teach our children to embrace mistakes and grow with confidence after learning from them.

Grandmaster Gary Kasparov talks about the importance of making mistakes, analysing the mistake and learning from them to continuously improve in the game of chess –

Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Todays special

November 7, 2011 2 comments

A baby stroller made from a watermelon:)

If you want to try this out here is the link to the youtube video –

Categories: General Tags: ,


November 6, 2011 5 comments

The wrinkles
Tired visage
I see an old woman

Beauty,  youth
exuberant charm
I see a young lady

Put yourself in others shoes
Delve deeper
Relook, rethink

Change your perspective
Discern, discriminate
Everyone sees through a different lens

Drop your baggage of  preconceived notions
Unlearn and unwind
And you will see the light

© copyright skm, 6th Nov, 2011

Categories: Poetry Tags: , , ,

Annoying questions ???

November 3, 2011 2 comments


What are some questions that irritate you?  There is no shortage of people who like
to poke their nose in others affairs and like to just ask annoying questions and offer
even more annoying advice.  It is good to have some answers ready for such irritating
questions ( I hope that I would be able to answer this way – there is no choice but to
put off such ridiculous queries).

Q. A bachelor is asked: When are you getting married?
Are you running a match-making agency?.  Or do you work as a marriage broker?

Q. A married guy is asked: When are you planning for a child?
As soon as I figure out how – do you have any tips or suggestions?

Q. A couple expecting their first child is quizzed – Is it a boy or a girl?
      Do you want to accompany us to the doctor to find out?

Q. A couple who has a child is asked:  Aren’t you planning for a second child?
How soon do you need to know that – let me call my husband

Q. And here comes the most annoying one – “Do you like your mama or papa more?”
     Innocent kids find it very difficult to answer this one and are put in a spot.  Give them a break.’

Q. At a restaurant – asking the waiter if a particular dish is good?
      I have yet to come across a waiter who will say that the food in his restaurant is not good.

Then there are those that ask you the most obvious questions..

You are drenched and they go – Q.  Is it raining outside?
      No.  Its so hot that I had a shower before work

You are watching a movie and they ask – Q. Are you watching a movie?
No I’m trying to teleport myself into the TV

What are some of the questions that annoy you the most?

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
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