Friday, November 30, 2012

I love rain....

Rain Water Harvesting
Illustration by Neela

I love rain and started thinking about importance of water. So here, I am sharing two ways to make use of this rain.
Homeowners Steve and Linda Parker have installed a rainwater catchment system that allows them to collect rainwater to recycle in their California home. Since installing the system they've collected about 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water to re-use for their laundry and their toilets.

This is little extensive but there is a simple way to harvest rain water, through Rain Barrels. Basically, rain barrel is a container that collects and stores rainwater from downspouts and rooftops for watering lawns and gardens in the summer time. Generally a rain barrel is made using a 55-gallon drum, a vinyl garden hose, PVC couplings,a screen grate to remove debris and keep insects out. Well, we can always use this container in the garden beautifully or disguise them.
They are available at Home Depot  and other stores. Rain is naturally devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other harmful chemicals. The chemicals and hard water from many of our municipal water systems can add to chemical imbalances in soil and damage sensitive plants.  Water collected from the roofs of houses picks up very little contamination. Garden will appreciate it. Romantic Song from a film, 1942 A love story- "Rhim Zhim Rhim Zhim"  Growing up in India and watching many Bollywood films, rain generates childhood memories of Gujarati poetry "Aw ray Varasad..." and romantic emotional moments. Here is this beautiful and romatic Hindi Film song and I saw this film in America.
This song is very different but relates to rain and expresses different emotions and I love it too. Enjoy! "Rain on Parade" - Duffy

Friday, November 23, 2012

Love my Tea (Camillia Sinensis)

 A CUP OF TEA........

I just love holding a warm cup of tea all day. I love all kinds of Tea/Cha/Chai/Chay. Camillia Sinensis- an interesting name for a plant and somehow sounds like a name of an exotic woman with a streak of sinful flavor or a hidden musical note just surfaces with surprise.

I drank Green tea in Japan and Black tea in India. But in USA, I drink all black, white, green, yellow, flavored tea; and I even make my flavors by adding ginger or mint leaves or cinnamon powder or cloves or even methi seeds in my boiling cup of tea. Some do taste really weird but hey, I do not mind it, as long as it is in a nice warm ceramic cup.

Guess what- India is declaring TEA as the national drink in 2013, in my opinion, it is late but I vote for that!

Enjoy a cup of tea!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Plastic in Architecture, Plastic in Structures

Plastic Structure
Green House
We have seen green house made up with polycarbonate translucent or transparent panels. They are of various sizes and shapes. They protect plants from wind and harsh sun and cold winter. The indestructible panels diffuse the sun light and retain the heat inside for plants. You can be living in any climate zone and indulge in your vegetables or flowers growing hobbies.

Large Plastic Structures -The Eden Project
The Eden Project- Plastic Domes
The Eden Project, in Cornwall, UK is the largest plant enclosure conceived by Tim Smit and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw. It consists of a cluster of 8 giant bubble-like inter connected plastic cells. These enclosures emulate natural biomes. They are constructed from a tubular hexagonal steel structure with cladding panels made from Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, (ETFE). ETFE, a fluorine based plastic transmits more light, costs 24% to 70% less to install than glass and 1% weight of the glass makes perfect cladding material making the structures without any interior support. Also, these tri-layered cladding panels  are sealed around their perimeter and inflated to create a large cushion. The large cushion acts as a thermal blanket to the structure. Check the photo with the illumination -
For more information-

For Aerial photo- click Here

The Eden Project has become well known as the largest greenhouse in the world. Each domed cell  houses a plethora of plants from all over the Earth in all different colors, shapes and sizes. In 10 years, about 13 million visitors have visited to the Eden Project.

On the side Note, I want to say few words about Tim Smit who conceived this project-
His new venture is the creation of a geothermal power plant on site, for which planning permission has just been granted. He  produced an album called "Midnight Blue" with Louise Tucker. Check it out=

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Plastic and Art Installation

Plastic Materials used in Art

I have talked about fabric in few of my past posts and the links are as follows:  and
I gravitate towards man-made materials because their forms are constantly evolving and changing. Besides fabric, plastic is an another man-made material, I like. Plastic is integral to our life, it is everywhere and we do not even notice it. It is a polymer based material and has been in existence for many years. In 1907, Plastic, the mouldable material that could take high temperatures without distortion, was invented to substitute shellac.
Generally, artists and architects embrace new material if it is within their reach and few of them succeed  pushing the boundaries of that specific material to create art. I want to shed some lights on these two notable artists, and their fantastic creations in plastic. Both of them have a different processes and techniques but both of their works have a common thread of "wow".

1 - Plastic art installation- Jacopo Foggini
 An internationally known, Italian artist  Jacopo Foggini, uses methacrylate (a type of plastic which are used in manufacturing epoxy and acrylic sheet) to create beautiful organic sculptures. He heats the methacrylite and molds with his hand creating luminous shapes. The chromatic properties of this plastic behaving like glass and Jacopo's sensitivity to form the plastic into evocative shapes makes the sculptures colorful, reflective, light and mesmerizing.
Foggini Lamp-
Photo Credit - Interni Magazine ans Furio Salone
His functional lamps and tables are sold in high end designers' stores and he has installed numerous pieces in many countries. I really like his installation of a Plasteroid, a planet shaped structure installed for Mutant Architecture and Design exhibition in Milan. The surface is made with a double layer of 200 recycled polycarbonate scales, in a transparent blue color, poured  by hand and stitched together to form a single spherical surface.  The lighting system is composed  of a tungsten halogen 20,000 watt bulb with dimmer, positioned in the central nucleus of the installation, screened by an opaline pyrex structure. According to Jacopo, this Plasteroid  symbolizes a promised land which we can reach through deep meditations and consciousness. Seeing this photo side by side with the real moon does elevate my sensations.

2 - Recycled Plastic Art- Recycled Plastic film- Daniel Canogar
This installation inspired me to look into plastic world. Artist, Daniel Canogar from Madrid, has used celluloid film (thermoplastic) and projected lights through them. The installation, "The Film Trilogy" showcases three multi-media projections in two rooms of the gallery. As shown in the photo, he re purposes ( plastic )VHS tape as well as film strips, installs them in the dark room and projects lights through them. The result is animated moving pictures with sound and colorful lights. Yes, it felt like I am watching dance performance of lights on the wall.
Left photo credit- Neela Shukla - At Montalvo  &  Right photo credit- Daniel Canogar
Daniel Conagar's Installations - photo credit- Neela Shukla
I managed to capture an image of running horse and it is Eadweard Muybridge's 'The Horse in Motion' from 1878. Daniel is exploring  old technologies of cinematic field and frees the hidden energy and power on to gallery walls.  I am not covering an intsallation of CD's, but if you are in bay area, do not miss these three art installations, for more info - Montalvo Gallery.   He has recycled and re-purposed plastic films and created a stunning space, photos do not show that. Check out his work at

Yes, Plastic is very much recyclable material, which includes plastic bags. On the side note, we do not have to pay for plastic bag but have to pay 10 cents for a paper bag. Check out the link for more info on that- 

I will continue my exploration of plastic in the field of architecture, craft and jewelry field. To be Continued...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Storage of Books and Library- Innovative Ideas

Storage  of books and Library Design
The main function of the library is to make space for books and visitors, who come to read and borrow books. Most of the libraries are just box-like buildings with multiple floors with books storing and reading spaces. They are integrated or partially divided to accommodate various other requirements. Architects sometime stretch this concept and create spaces different then a typical box like building. Below are few examples of library buildings that are unique.

1-The Picture Book Museum
The Picture Book Museum was designed by architect Tadao Ando in 2003 and it was designed for pre-schoolers and young kids to enjoy the picture books. The owner only had one requirement which was to show the cover of every picture book. Ando designed the walls covered with wooden cubes which displayed each picture book facing the viewers. As shown in the photo, stairs are used for accessing the top floors and as a place to sit and read the books.  If observed carefully. you can see two railings, one specifically installed at children's height.

photo credit- Ken Lee

photo credit- Ken Lee
for more info-
To my surprise, I learned that the American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak was the inspiration for this Picture Book Library. I remember going through the installation in Sony Metreon in San Francisco "Where the Wild Things Are" with my kids multiple times. That was based on his book Where The Wild Things Are. The same way, his other book Outside, Over There influenced the initial idea of this library and its location; which is Iwaki City in Japan, surrounded with mountains and forests.
2-Musashino Art University Library
Musashino Art University Library is another example where the shelves are used to define the spaces inside. Only the first 7 rows are used to store the books but the remaining empty rows create a strong visual element. The exterior walls are also made up of wooden shelves enclosed with glass. This library is also located in Japan and designed by architect Sou Fujimoto.

Photo Credit- Ken Lee

Photo Credit- Ken Lee
for more info-
Both the buildings have used wooden shelves for not only the storing of books but also for walls.
3-Mansueto Library
But my favorite library is Mansueto on the campus of University of Chicago and designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn. The construction was completed last year and the library is fully in use. Helmut Jahn's innovative approach breaks all the conventions of the library designs. It is a simple glass dome with no signs of storage of books. Yes, it stores 3.5 million books and they are all stored underground and of course, students and staff members do not have to go underground to retrieve the books. There are robotic cranes that go under ground and retrieve the selected book/books in just a few minutes. Look at the photo below and the video showing the cranes in action.

Mansueto Library- Exterior Photo- Photo Credit-
For more info
I really admire Helmut Jahn for his idea and the ability to to convince the client to make it a reality. 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Designing space for Books

Love of Books
I remember growing up, we never used to step on a paper or a book because the book or this object symblolizes as  Hindu Goddess Saraswati, a keeper of the knowledge.  Godeess Saraswati is generally depicted with four arms, two front hands playing a Veena ( an Indian string instrument) and two hands carrying rosary and a book. The book represents learning, knowledge and wisdom. All Indian myth asides, books play very important role in our lives. We all have books which we have collected thought our life and we do not want to part with them. We create closet space for our clothes and shoes but keep forgetting to design or allocate the space for books.

Storing Books
After setting all the rooms and furnitures, we put up a shelf or a series of shelves and some might have a separate room dedicated for books and office work. In any case, the books have to be stored properly and should be accessible. Once in a while, while designing for homes, architects come up with few creative ideas to store and retrieve the books for their clients especially those owning tons of books and are book lovers. Check out the two unique solutions below.

Example 1- An architecture firm "Levitate" in London designed the Bookcase Staircase in a Victorian home providing loft space as a library and a secret stair case lined up with the books and the skylight above. They used the spaces between the stair treads and the walls around the stair to store the books. Look at the photo below-

BOOKS STAIRCASE- designed and photographed by Levitate

Example-2  The German architect "Kraus-Schoenberg"designed this book shelf as a main feature of the house. It is centrally located and looks like a central fire place in the middle, providing warmth for occupants on both the floors. See the photo as shown below-

Book Shelf, Centrally Located and visually connected form every room, designed by Kaus-Schoenbergt and
Photo Credit -
I want to post about the innovative design of one library in the next post, but let me leave you all with a small paragraph describing the importance of books from an author, Anne Lamott.

"For some of us, books are important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life—wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and pay attention"

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fabric Structure - Plants Enclosure

Couple of weeks ago, I went to this Berries picking farm in Watsonville, CA. It was a beautiful morning and I enjoyed picking Olallieberries with my friends and of course you guessed it right, by the time I left the farm, my skin was oozing blueish and citrus flavored juice.  Just kidding!

Although, I came across this fabric enclosure and got impressed with the construction details.

Simple Construction Details

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interaction in Architecture

Familiarity and Connectedness

Does familiarity breed contempt or liking? Psychologists have done studies to prove both sides. Do we like people more when we get to know them or do they irritate you? If there are similarities with us in them, we tend to like them. However, here I am posting about how my familiarity of a person is starting to develop liking of his work. Also, the spaces you live in evolve as time passes by their users. I am talking about this one residence and its impact on me.

Couple of weeks ago, I took this tour "Marin Living: Home Tour', organised by American Institute of Architects, showcasing 5 homes in Marin county featuring distinct works of local architects. These homes are of different sizes and three of the houses were under 3000 sq. ft. Each house had a unique sets of criteria such as geographical, economical etc and each architect had come up with a distinct architecture for his client. I am not comparing them or talking about their designs. They all were full of creative ideas, construction details and perfect for their clients. But here I am talking about this one home which made an impact on me and the reasons for that strong impact.

The house is in Sausalito city, designed by Swatt Miers Architects in year 2002. It is a 120' long x 20' to 30' wide house sitting on slopping site with a view of SF skyline. The architect had kept the same footprint of a 1950's residence noted Bay Area modernist Roger Lee that over the years had shifted from its foundation. The new design doubles the area of the house to 2700 sq.ft and uses different materials to define private and public spaces.

Familiarity- I reached an hour early not intentionally but somehow I tend to mix up time, when I am focused on following the overall plan. ( Off the record- I have to work hard to remember the names of people who I have known and know of them very well. ) Well, that one hour worked to my advantage and I got full attention of the architect Robert Swatt and his stories behind this house and his other projects. I learned that he is working on a residential project in Delhi, India and he can not disclose the identity of the client. First I thought the client might be a political leader or Bollywood celebrity, but Robert explained the reason of not disclosing was the respecting his client's Hindu belief of not making known to public about a good task till it comes to its fruition. Yes, he was right, I remember growing up in India, we often consulted astrological charts to fix an auspicious time.
Also, he talked about the difficulties about incorporating Vastu (it is 5000 years old science of building design) in his new project. I conversed with him and become familiar with his tiny professional life. Of course, I visited the house with a keen eye and a different frame of mind. For me, this familiarity helped developing likings for his work.

Residents' Participation-Nonetheless, the house had all great elements of design. The architecture had lots of potential and the residents had a lot to do with creating a various scales of calming spaces. I could not photograph the interiors, so I used photos of architect's which were taken in 2002 and sketched the elements and furniture added by home owners/current residents on the photos below. In the entrance, the vegetation, plantings crawl very close to your foot. And to enjoy that the residents have placed a beautifully crafted chair near the window creating a perfect place.

Check out for more-
When I walked further into family room/ living room, dining room, I felt principles of Feng shui (a +3500 years old Chinese system of Geomancy believed to use the laws of Heaven and Earth).  Looking at the right side, at the end of the house, you see a water element (sculpture) just outside the ceiling to floor, almost invisible glass window and on the side in the courtyard, outside the glass door, a fire element (pit). That was exciting but in a calm, spiritual way. The architect designed the spaces where the residents had a chance to put their own creativity, that is awesome. Also, the book shelf behind the open stair created a space within a space behind the stair. The paintings were very familiar to me by an artist from Artful Homes, I have seen the photos of his or her work many times before and I can not find it right now and of course I do not remember the name of the artist. I have to be conscious to remember the names. I will work on it. But that feelings of familiarity kicks in again and I have to say- I like this home!
Designed by Swatt | Miers Architects

Thursday, May 10, 2012

------- Just a little Detour -------------

I write about the stuff that I know or am interested in but once in a while I have to be adventurous. I decided to scratch the new surfaces. I generally shoot photos in which building/s or partial building is in the frame, but this one is just giving hint of the buildings.
Super Moon- photo credit- Neela Shukla
The poetry has not been my favorite subject and I decided to express the photo and feelings through this poem. Though, I am not sure that I completely understand the meaning of it.

A Poem  by  Emily Dickinson
The Brain—is wider than the sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With Ease—and You—beside—
The Brain is deeper than the sea—
For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
The one the other will absorb—
As Sponges—Buckets—do—
The Brain is just the weight of God—
For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound—
                                                    — Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Landscape planning to revive sacred space

Landscape Design and Planning
As I was designing the landscape for my yard and wanting to include some sculptures in the backyard, to get inspired, I started to browse few works of notable Landscape architects including Laurie D. Olin from University of Pennsylvania, who also has written a book named "Placemaking". I landed on one of the projects in Romania involving landscaping Constantine Brancusi's Endless Column Complex. It not only provided me some insight into landscaping but left me thinking about life. Let me describe you briefly and I have to start with Brancusi.
Brancusi in his studio
Brancusi, in his Paris studio, surrounded by his models

Constantin Brâncuși is an internationally known modern sculptor. He is know for his simple, distinctive and pure sculptural forms : the 'eggs', 'fishes', 'heads' and 'columns'. These pieces are in stone and marble, result of direct carving and polishing. In making the forms, Brancusi's quest was to reflect the essence of things rather than showing symbolism or abstract ism. As a result, he made many pieces of the same theme and each time reducing the details and purifying a selected form until only the essence was left. See few photos.
Google celebrates the 135th birthday of Brancusi and few of his sculptures 

In words of a curator, What Brancusi did was 'to concentrate on very simple shapes, to keep his sculpture, as it were, one-cylinder, to refine and polish a single shape to a degree almost too precious.' This statement is also true for a large sculpture, "the Endless Column", which I am describing soon; in my opinion, it is not only precious but almost spiritual and sacred.

Here, in a monumental ensemble, Brancusi created three sculptures (1935-1938) as a memorial to the 8,500 Romanian soldiers who died defending the Jiu Valley from the advancing German army. The three sculptures, the Silence Table (Masa Tacerii), the Kiss Gate (Poarta Sarutului) and the Endless Column (Coloana Infinitului), are placed on mile-long (1.5 km) east-west axis that runs through the heart of the city and perpendicular to the River Jiu.  See the photo below.

The ensemble of the Silence Table and the Kiss Gate are made up of travertine. You can see the simple forms of table and stools. The Kiss Gate is the derivative from his famous sculpture the Kiss (you can see the motif). The Endless column measures 98 feet tall and stacks 17 rhomboidal modules of zinc and brass-clad, cast-iron modules threaded onto a steel spine. The column has a half-unit at the top expressing 'infinite'. It has been seen as a symbolic means of dead soldiers' souls rising into heavens. Since its construction in 1938, the run-down park surrounding these three sculptures and the deteriorating structure of the Endless column in dire need to replace or restore.

In 2000, with the funding from World Monuments Fund, the Romanian Ministry of culture  and the World Bank, 32 specialists from all over the world concluded to conserve -as opposed to replace and the column structure was clad with rust protective layer and  cast-iron modules of the Endless column were repaired and re plated with zinc, brass and clear protective coating.Extra lights and ventilation were added. The travertine Gate of the Kiss and the Table of Silence conservation projects took another 18 months. A project for restoring and conserving the park setting for these monuments was devised by Laurie  D. Olin of the Olin Studio, who I mentioned in the beginning. All these work was done between 2004 and 2006.

Based on the urban designer's plan and landscape designer's plan, plantings and shrubs covering the stools were removed and backgrounds were screened by planting shade -tolerant shrubs in three rows of increasing height. The species were chosen to provide subtly varying seasonal colors and textures. For the walking surface, the same crushed stone that was used around the table was extended along the walkway and edged with a matching colored curb. Within two parks, the same crushed stone were used from which the stools were made. The trees above the stools were carefully pruned to filter more light down to the stools.  For nighttime illumination, lights were placed high within the foliage of the trees suspended from discreet poles placed apart from the stools between the tree trunks.

The Olin's plan succeeded to make landscape and surrounding areas to feel the quaint and calmness of original rural settings in modern context. Also the landscape restoration made it possible for Brancusi's three sculptures feel the same power as it was originally installed and once again be experienced as the coherent, powerful, and spiritual ensemble the artist envisioned.

Now, I have to consider the location and scale of my future sculptures in the design of my backyard. I will also pay attention to sunlight and artificial lights for my usability of the area. Apart from these,
I got fascinated  by his approach and philosophy towards life. I will share few of his quotes.
1- Things are not difficult to make; what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them.
2- Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.
3-What is real is not the external form, but the essence of is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Site Specific Art Installation

View of Willow Tree
As I was looking out the bay window of my daughter's room, long drooping branches of a willow tree reminded me of the art installation I saw in March 2011. I tried looking for photos in my collection to write this post and was unable to find them. I was bummed out but decided to write about it anyway. So with the help of Google's satellite camera, I captured the photos of this temporary installation, as shown below. The enclosed sculpture is on the property of Palo Alto Art Center, in Palo Alto, California.

An Environmental Sculptor, Peter Dougherty constructed this site-specific, temporary sculpture with pliable branches of similar willow tree.

Dougherty spent three weeks designing and constructing this whimsical, play-like  structure with the help of local volunteers and staff of the Palo Alto Art Center. He strategically chose the scale and location near the road under tall green trees so that they could be seen by drivers in their cars.

Similar to an urban designer, Dougherty considers the site, scale of the surroundings and natural lights to create these installations. He names them "stickworks" and  uses simple, primitive building techniques. The Flexible willow tree saplings are gathered and cut without destroying the trees; the branches are divided by their sizes, bent, and weaved to create the walls and door/window-like openings. During the process of installation, Dougherty interacts with people and kids, explains them about the concept of building with sticks. Kids and visitors explore the enchanted forms by going in and looking out of the openings, enjoying the environment in a complete different way. These structures  are dynamic and change colors over a period of time as the branches dry out. They usually stay at the location for one to two years, depending on the local climatic conditions; once decayed, they become an integral part of the earth.
This is the photo of another site-specific sculpture
 created by Peter at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
For more info. about the installation process, visit
For more info. about Patrick Dougherty’s work, visit

Dougherty has created approximately 200 installations across the USA and a few in other countries.  All of his various installations use his signature material, linear drawing like appearance, and lyrical aesthetic quality. Visiting one of his installations will bring either a kid's spirit back into your heart or admiration of the craft along with respect of the environment.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cinequest and Never Ending Passion

Expression of Never Ending Passion
During two weeks of Cinequest, I captured the process of Mural painting on the wall. Here is a photo and at the end of two weeks, the wall was painted back to white again.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Digital Art Installation by Peter Wegner

Monument to Change As a Verb-
Few weeks ago, on the way to an event on Stanford University, after parking a car, I came out of an elevator and stumbled upon this large black shiny wall with changing, illuminated words such as sensationally, sensibly, simply and so on. I moved away to the theater to watch the show with my friend but my eyes were reading those words as if I was standing there. Check out the photo I took, while going back to the garage.

 Later I learned that, the art installation, titled Monument to Change as a Verb was by artist, Peter Wegner. These illuminated adverbs were lighting up in specific sequences and groupings on a 14' x 18' long piece. Check out the Video and some photos on Peter's Website.

I love the use of words in the art pieces because it invites and encourages viewers to participate. This piece features 308 adverbs describing ways to change. Wegner describes it as, "A piece that is not about what we do but rather how we do it."

Creative Collaboration-
The artist's vision for the piece was partly funded by Phil Knight, Founder of Nike, alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Another collaboration is the company YESCO, which constructed this flat wall piece from Aluminum and laminated glass panels. White LED lights are positioned so that each adverb can be illuminated individually or in combination with other words. The staff of YESCO also helped to install the piece. The lighting control generates over 80 programmed illuminated scenes and sequences that create various intriguing graphic patterns one after another. Random sequencing of the programmed segments ensures that you encounter various patterns while passing by or standing there, trying to read the words. jokingly, joyously, judiciously, and so on.

The video and photo do not simulate the experience of being there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Expression of love through Sweets, Desserts (Hindi word-Mithai): Valentine Day!

Valentine Day and Sweets(Mithai)
Photo Credit- Kate Bernot 

Valentine day is on 14th February and being in America for many years, like Americans, I picture chocolates, flowers and love during this time. Chocolates of different shapes, especially heart shaped chocolates are sold and gifted to loved one and friends. See the love symbol of cupid and painted words with love birds over assorted Valentine Chocolates.

Kisses- Credit

The retail, food and service industry capitalize on this day to increase the sales of their products and services, especially Chocolates takes the lead role. To support the needs of the retailers, manufacturers held sweets and snacks expo in America. Chocolate and Candy manufacturers display their products creatively. See the photo taken from this expo, where the Candy Giant Hersey's Kisses are floating in the air, very dramatic!

I started thinking about various sweet food items, their beauty, glamor and the associations with memorable and happy events. All my sensory memory came to surface. Sweets are the major players on most memorable events and occasions. People from all countries celebrate many happy social activities around sweets-making, displaying, eating and sharing or gifting the sweets.Sometimes, we may not notice them but they are present during cultural festivities.

With my  girl friends, I go to this Cocola Bakery located in mixed-use shopping development "Santana Raw" in San Jose, CA. and can never resist trying out one of these elegantly displayed pastries. This coffee and pastry break with a friend after shopping or window shopping designers' clothes is perfect and makes me forget how much I spent and puts me in  happy, relaxing, enjoyable time. Look at the different types of pastries displayed, I can go every week and not get tired of them.
Pastry Display at Cafe, Santana Raw

I remember growing up in India during Diwali and visiting many relatives' weddings, various types of sweet dishes were served. All young men would contest on eating maximum numbers of Laddu ( Sweet wheat flour ball with saturated butter and sugar). I remember many interesting stories associated with the sweets. Indians have not marketed their sweets in America for sure. Americans think of Indian sweets as Gulab Jamun, Ras Malai, Kheer or Carrot Halwa, but Indian sweets is as diverse and complex as India, her people, culture and languages. The sweets reflect influence of Persians, Moguls and European colonists who entered India throughout history.

The sweet dishes vary based on the combination of  numerous ingredients, a wide range of food preparation styles, and its' culinary presentation. India is known for its spices and those spices are used in sweets too. Just thinking about all of them, I feel exhaustion!
I will have to write another post about them, but see the photos of the shops selling these sweets below.
Typical Display of Indian Sweets  under the Counter

Sweets Display in Ajmer, India- Photo Credit- American Tourist
Photo Credit- Kate Bernot
 So tempted and thought occurred to me--
 The chocolates fused with Indian spices.....and there... they are available!

Came across this photo of  exotic truffles sprinkled with Indian Curry, Ginger, Wasabi and Hungarian paprika nestled in amethyst jewel tone box. I just love this international ingredients mixed with the American chocolate! I have to order it from Chicago!
Have some sweets and Happy Valentine Day!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Paintings of Suburbanization

I am posting another two painting in the series of Urbanization/Suburbanization. These paintings are flowing without boundaries and have dream like quality. You can see that transparent Saree (a 6 yard piece of cloth) flying through the landscape. One day, it is going to tell an interesting story. Be ready!