Sunday, May 28, 2017

The flora of Sikkim

Sikkim is a botanist's dream come true.
I am not a botanist, but the sheer variety or plants and leaves leaves one speechless.

So this trip, I tried to find out more about the local flora of Sikkim. To my utter dismay, while there were articles on the internet, not one of them referred to the local names of the plants. They had weird Latin names and some description. But the thing is, the people who live in these places have had a long standing relationship with these plants. They have names, and uses and truly a deep connect. Why is that knowledge not being captured anywhere?

So this is a different sort of feature on Sikkim flora. The next day, I took my driver with us as a guide, and requested him to tell me anything he could about the plants we found on our way. The Sikkim zoo is amazing for plant varieties, so that's where this is from.

The names are mostly Nepali, though some day I would love to go back and do the same thing with a Lepcha guide too.

Brush. About 1.5 meters in height. Red flowers in Feb-March.

Flowering shrub

सिंघानी - goat fodder

लांकूर - Timber. The leaves are dark, and roughly the size of mango leaves.

Cow fodder only.

This one is simply called red flower. Flowering shrub

सातो कावला - Tall, sturdy stem used for timber

पतले कातूस - used for timber

लाल चन्दन - USED FOR TIMBER

Jungle Patti. Used as cow fodder.

चुलात्रो  - only used for cow fodder

सांप का मकई - No particular use, and not a plant the locals are very fond of.

सांप की मकई leaves. The leaves have a gentle magenta outline and veins.

धूपी  - All conifer leaves are burnt in the gompa/ stupa for incense. And the smell is truly heavenly. Since they are used for Dhoop, hence the name Dhoopi.

तुसारे is a flowering shrub. No other use.

लालू पत्ती - flowering shrub

शिष्नु - edible leafy vegetable

Punjabi Bhuna masala

My mother was right. If you cook the masala gently over a low flame, it will reward you with amazing color and texture. 

Many years ago:

 Me: But how will i know when the masala is ready? 


She: When it is ready, it will automatically stop sticking to everything. It will let go of the pan that held it and the ladle that drove it.

Applies also, i think, to people. When we are ready, we spontaneously let go.

The Punjabi bhuna masala - the way it is made at home. No artificial color added.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A dream...

One of my bucket list dreams is to create the next Ceaser or Capitalism Labs out of India. Does anyone else share the same dream?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Personal Credo

Why I never have an answer to those " 5 year plan" type questions? I live by this:
Today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.

That's all.

On Mother's Day..

I honestly did try to look for a Mother's Day pic with my mom, Ishaan's paternal grandmother, my bhabi, and the other awesome moms i know.. then realised.. there are so few, because the mothers are the ones taking the pictures!
The mother is not in the picture, because she is the one creating it.
Happy Mother's Day, dear moms of my life.

Monday, May 08, 2017


So, the last few months have been a spate of health issues. So weird and sudden that i told my mother to get a pooja done. First, there was the ankle that led to bed rest. Then, the dry eyes and eye inflammation that made it impossible to see the screen and do computer based work for more than 2 hours a day. Then, the right shoulder just lost mobility one night, leaving it possible to do only small things.
But here's what that did.. it eliminated all distractions. It taught the importance of walking, cooking, raising a hand to paint or work on the keyboard.

And here is how I changed as a person:
  • I smile more.
  • I used to be grateful for my legs every morning, but never more than in the last 5 months. I REALLY know what a blessing it is to be able to see, walk and use your hands. There is nothing more precious than this.
  • I smile at children and strangers a lot more.
  • I used to wave at children from a bus or train. Now I really see the beauty of that action.
  • I've started to see my life from that moment of death, and from there, there is only this thing that we need to do more of - love, hug and laugh. Meet friends. Spend more time with the family and accept them as lovely, special human beings that we have chosen to spend our lives with.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bernd Hoesslin Pilot

On April 9, 2017, Bernd Hoesslin was a pilot with an Indian airline - Jet Airways. Jet is one of the only 2 surviving full service airlines in India.

This amazing pilot said the following: "You bloody Indian get out of my flight." It was a racist comment. He was de rostered after this.

The reason I am writing this post is that if you are doing a reference check on him, you should know this. Apparently, he also physically assaulted a woman and a physically challenged passenger.

It doesn't impact me personally because I have not flown Jet Airways for many years. But if you want to hire pilots like this, please leave a note here so we know that we should avoid that airline. Yes, we are customers like that. We don't speak. We vote with our dollars (oops, rupees).