Personal Ramblings, Places

memories of smells

There are some smells from childhood that stick with you, smells with which you quickly associate a memory of a  person, place or thing. Here are some on mine from growing up in India.

1. fried fish = missing grandma

2. sticky, sweet honey = grandpa slaughtering a giant jack fruit with his machete

3. ginger and lemon = icky sore throats

4. disinfectant = mom scrubbing me clean (on the front porch)

5. coffee = quality time with dad = finding errors in the newspaper

6. rotten mangos and sweat = hugs from a specific uncle

7. asafoetida = people sans deodorant

8. rancid oil – yummy roadside treats

9. sour milk = poor rural clinics

10. Baked potato = a cobra is slithering somewhere close by

Favorite Photos, Misc Stuff

India-Pakistan border

See the orange line? This is what the border between Pakistan and India, floodlit for surveillance purposes, looks like at night, from space.

The bundles of light in the photo, which was taken from north to south, are the following cities: Delhi (top center), Srinagar (left), Lahore (center, just below the border line), and Islamabad (bottom center.)

The picture, taken by the International Space Station’s Expedition 28 crew, was shot on Aug. 21 and recently released.(Source:

Misc Stuff

reminiscences of rajasthan

In 2004 our family visited a few of the old palaces of Rajasthan. Sarah Egger, a family friend accompanied us. It was one of our best vacations. I am really bad at photography and even worse at organizing pictures (or anything else). But here are some pictures, picked randomly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Personal Ramblings

the papad’s road to westernization

The Indian papad is a thin, super-crunchy lentil wafer that’s super delicious deep fried. For my family, it can’t be just any kind of papad; it must be the Madras papad. That’s the kind that has not been adulterated by today’s fad for food fusion.  That’s the kind that hasn’t been assimilated with the Western food industry.
Papad these days are tailored for the exotic palate and come in assorted shapes, colors and flavors. Most all brands are sold in sophisticated, trendy packaging; some are even vacuum-sealed to keep the papads fresh and to keep them from breaking.
But not the authentic Madras papad. They are just like they have been for hundreds of years–simply made with  beluga lentils, baking soda, and salt. Simply plain and delicious. Even the packaging is authentic: The thin, dry wafers are tied together with some homemade jute twine and wrapped in paper that is sealed what could be some toxic glue.  A loud, close-to-garish blue, red and fuchsia label is slapped on as a final touch.
Everything from the wrapping to the jute string to a third of the wafers being broken from awful packaging  has this homey goodness to it. It’s so homey that the only way I’ve been able  to tell whether the stuff’s still good is to watch out for when the weevils start burrowing into them.
I’ve been without Madras papad for months now. So when I got a dozen packs this week, I was very excited. That is until I saw that the Madras papad now has on it “nutrition facts” and an expiration date.
What next? Do away with the smelly glue and the jute string?