Germany India- Infinite Opportunities. A labour of love

I very rarely talk about work on my blog. Mostly because my blog is an escape from my work. But in true follow my recipe style I felt this project had a place on the blog for all its heart and warmth.
The Germany India- Infinite Opportunities is a two year long cultural program held in all major cities in India. Performances, music, dance, theater, photography and many such collaborations and cultural exchanges. The Urban Mela is a traveling festival across 5 major cities around India- Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Pune. Its consists of these beautiful jewel like pavilions designed by German artist Markus Heinsdorff. Each pavilion is given to a German partner company to showcase the idea of sustainable cities.

I designed the Deutsche Bank Pavilion along with my team at Ogilvy Action. The few of us involved in the project ideated, curated, wrote, designed and provided technical specifications for the exhibition for the Deutsche Bank Pavilion.  The idea was to curate a set of projects created by various innovators who are designing objects, systems, ideas that would make better living in the our crowded urban scenario. Windowfarms, Green Karbon- On urban biodiversity, $300 House contest winner, Solar Lantern, Solar Plane, Dream In, A sanitation project,  The waterfront reclamation project. The pavilion becomes a place to exchange ideas and thoughts on how to make better cities.
Many projects are brought alive through interesting interactive ways. Such as the Green Karbon project culminates in a photo contest challenging people to capture biodiversity in their cities. The window farms is currently growing eggplant and chilies and a dream tree that invites people to tie their dreams on a tag. Many projects were Deutsche Bank supported and some were just people that we believed in. Shagun Singh of Designwala helped us curate and reach out to the various innovators so that we could showcase their work.

In the process of design, I went through several layouts trying to create the best narrative possible. What works with what. Working with German organizers for the festival was also interesting as they had several processes in place such as understanding our electrical requirements etc. All in all it was a great learning experience.

On the opening day, when I walked into the Pavilion it was a moment of pride. People were walking through, looking, reading, understanding. Our super college kid promoters did an excellent job thoroughly explaining each project to the visitors. People looked engaged. I was amazed with the windowfarms. It was brilliant - it worked. There was also a baby eggplant growing. The dream in tree was filled with dreams. Though only 50 sq m this Pavilion was a labour of love. It had heart.

The Urban Mela is up till Sunday April 22nd at Cross Maidan at Churchgate. Do go see it. Its stunning- in the evening all the various pavilions light up. Some of the others were also interesting. There is a beer garden  serving Erdingers and bratwursts.

The painstaking process of construction of the pavilions and some initial design drawings. I was not involved in the final installation of the pavilion.
Do participate in the photography contest for Green Karbon.

Some acknowledgements are in order. My Ogilvy Action team - Nyka, Aarti, Khushboo, Shripad, Shrikant, Vipul and Rahul. Our various support people the photographers, website designers, AV makers. The organizers of the Urban Mela. Though there are many here to thank I especially want to thank Jenny and Henning. And of course our client at Deutsche Bank to give us this opportunity- Linus, Reshma, Ajay, Madhav and Mike.
Thank you for this opportunity.

Somethings are just worth doing...

Like this blog. I have been looking for reasons for not telling my stories anymore. But then I just realized what a great space this is and I must let it grow and evolve. Maybe play with the media and all- videos, sound bytes etc. 

It is strange that the 100th post (yes I hit my 100th before Tendulkar) is not really about food. Its not some gastronomical explosion of delight. Its about where I am right now. Discovering new music, traveling, wandering, designing, dating and yes eating. This show called The Dewarist on TV, I feel has somehow changed my life. Its a show that is about collaboration, exploring a new place in India with its sounds, its food, about roots and about the sheer love of making music. Its an explosion of energy and the music is amazing. And so there would be the Dewarists Stage at NH7 that made me decide to head out to Pune for the weekend two weeks back. 

I got in touch with my friend Melissa who was also interested in going. We did not really have a place to stay and left things to fate. Last minute her friend Snehal offered to host us. So the two of us with a backpack on an AC bus took off to Pune. The moment we stepped on that bus- adventure had begun. AC was broken, the passengers threatened to sue the bus company, boys with bad taste talking loudly. We finally reached Pune in one piece 4 hours later. There was a young girl who looked pretty lost and asked us if we were headed to NH7. We told her to jump in our rickshaw. This was probably the most entertaining rickshaw ride ever. This young girl all of 18 told us things about her life that would make many people's ears burn and turn red. But not us old ladies we were told that she was here to be with a boy who currently has his 'tongue down her best friends throat' and about 'sloppy threesomes'. 

Something interesting about Pune no one seemed to know where this festival was except for my GPS on the phone and it took us down some strange roads. Finally we made it. It was like being transported to a land of different energy, not overly crowded, very chill organizers and volunteers. Lots of nice looking people. I pushed my way to the Dewarist stage (well an exaggeration- it was very easy to find)And what music followed the rest of the night- Soulmate belting with one of the best voices I have ever heard, The Raghu Dixit Project - pure energy and then Imogen Heap. Brilliant, mindblowing, quirky, performance. The energy of the crowd was brilliant. After the show we wandered out in happy unison, satisfied, nourished, and walked out to realise there will be no rickshaws to take us home. So we walked and hitchhiked with a couple who happen to be Snehal's neighbours. What a perfect end. I was loving Pune's small town energy. 

Next morning we went to Mocha for coffee where I met little Laddoo. After a breakfast hookah and Snehal's mom delicious Malwani food we headed back to NH7. An evening full of delightful music- Swarathma, Papon and the East India Company and finally Indian Ocean. When Kandisa rung through the grounds that was it- a collective energy swept took over the space. Something amazing happened after the end of the concert. The party did not end- they set up an All Stars stage with ALL the main artists who jammed with each other- Indian Ocean with Papon, Pentagram with Imogen Heap, Monica Dongra with Siddharth and Karsh Kale. It was quite brilliant. The backdrop was a massive canvas stretched on a giant wheel with gorgeous projections. 

Aah what a show. Magnificient sound engineering, vivid lights, the best volunteers, superb line up and very well organised. I have to say one of the best music festivals I have ever attended. I also felt very proud of how far along our young musicians have come going beyond fusion, delving into rock, electronica, sound making, exploring. 

The last part of the adventure. Mel and I shared a ride with another couple in a Volkswagon Passat all the way to Mumbai all for Rs400. Such was the adventure of this music festival. Such was the spirit of the weekend because as they say on the Dewarists... Somethings are just worth doing! 

Also thanks to Snehal's family for hosting us and preparing the best Malwani lunch ever. Separate post on that.

Enjoy the photos I took. And to more food, music & travel adventures. Thanks for staying on the ride with me.

 If you are into it as much as I am- do hear my recording of Kandisa by Indian Ocean.

70 Days After Ramzan.

Its Eid- Al- Adha today popularly known as Bakri Eid. It is the festival of sacrifice to commemorate the day Ibrahim was willingly ready to sacrifice his son Ishmael to show obedience to God. However, God intervened and provided Ibrahim with a sheep to sacrifice instead the life of his son. 
This is still practiced in which a goat bakri is slaughtered and the meat is used to prepare a feast for the family and community. Biryani, kababs, goat curry are the popular dishes.

There was a thread of discussion on biryani cravings on the Mumbai Food Bloggers Page. Papa just told me that Shaffi uncle's wife is sending us some homemade Lucknow style biryani and kababs. I'm really excited. Its my birthday tomorrow so this is going to be a treat to eat homemade super sexy biryani from Lucknow. 

However, I remembered that I had taken some lovely pictures of Ramzan a few months back. I had taken my friend Mark to Mohammed Ali Road at the Minara Masjid area for to check out food scene. I had seen this post on Mumbai Paused and could not stop drooling. 

It was the monsoon and it was raining that night. We walked down the street during prayer time, it was a solemn affair. Right after the prayers, the place was alive. Stalls selling- chicken soups, kababs, tikkas, botis, niharis, fried chicken, breads, and of course biryani. Stall after stall, some sit down restaurants. Turn in a different direction and there are dessert stalls frying up malpua, jalebis, serving cold firni, badam flavored milk, pancakes, ladoos with fried puris. It was alive, energetic and most of people despite fasting without food and water all day were very friendly, explaining the food and tradition, open to discussions, and most of all everyone had a smile on their face. A nation of smiles. And why shouldn't they be, after a long hard day of fasting, this food would be the ultimate satisfaction.

Back to the best biryani debate- I ate some really fantastic biryani here that night. The best chicken biryani ever.

So without wasting more time & before I forget - I want to share with you the pictures I took during Ramzan almost 70 days ago. Looking forward to my biryani tomorrow. Yum!

Smiling away despite all the smoke. Some really succulent chicken kababs.
To die for Nihari- the restaurant owner told us that he sources his marrow for the Nihari for Rs 400 a kgs. The nihari is cooked for hours.

Also have you seen The Dewarists yet. The second episode with Zeb & Haniya and Shantanu and Swanand in Mumbai - they go to Minara Masjid for a meal in the rain and eat some really amazing kababs as well. We could have crossed paths that night. They came up with the most amazing song in collaboration as a group. I love this song and the lyrics are beautiful.

Of Short Skirts, Fancy Shoes and Wine served in Plastic Cups

Last month I attended Sula Fest. Initially, I was not entirely impressed with the whole thing. It was alright. The food was Ok, the music performances were short of stellar and the energy level could have been taken up several notches. The line up was Something Relevant (the saxophonist Ryan who I love), Petri Dish project with Ashu of Blue frog and Monica Dogra, Anushka, Pentagram and Medeival Pundits (I took a rain check on the last). However the wine was lovely of course and Sula owns a fantastic property in Nashik. But the more I think about it that maybe this festival wasn't entirely about the wine or the food or the music. I think what I really had fun was checking out the haute couture. What with Lakme Fashion Week 2011 coming up this Friday I thought it would be great to share my attempt at fashion photography.

This adventure to Sula was only possible with the help of my two friends Keith and Nishanth and my mom's car. Nishanth was a total trooper to drive all three of us from Mumbai to Sula (Nashik) and back in one piece all in one day. I had been to Sula before in the monsoon and the views from their tasting room are decadent of endless rolling grapevines and interspersed with lakes. Absolutely beautiful.
Like I said the food was passable- burgers, kheema pao, Italian, Chinese, Indian- the whole spread. Nothing really stood out to me. The Bournville Dark Chocolate and wine pairing was interesting. The wine was delicious but was served in plastic cups. Considering it was a huge festival I suppose thats forgiven. But really delicious wine. My favourite wine is the Dindori Reserve Vignier. So good.
But most interesting was the hot fashion, the shortest skirt, the cute sandals, men in linen shirts, sexy jeans, women with fun hair dos, sunglasses, smiles and grins.
So channeling my inner Sartorialist - here it is Food Blogger turns Fashion Blogger-
The beautiful Sheetal Malhar

Last year I came down to the vineyards during the monsoons. We were designing a wine bottle label and toured the wine country for inspiration. Check these beautiful photos. Totally worth a visit don't you think.

Amdavad ka Pyar- Uttarayan Day 2

These photographs were too beautiful to pass up the opportunity to post them.  I was in Ahmedabad during Uttarayan to celebrate with my friend Prashant the completion of his latest feature film- Patang which I hear was very well received in the Berlinale this year. Read my previous post on my 4 day experience with the film crew and cast in Amdavad.

On the second day of the kite flying festival, Uttarayan,  I wandered through the streets of Raipur Khadiya walking into Pol house enclosures. Closely looking at the details of the exquisite woodwork.  The rich history of the old city, the gorgeous crafts all comes alive in these old ancestral homes. My friend Jai Thakkar has written a beautiful book called Naqsh in which he has painstakingly studies, sketched, drafted these gorgeous carvings and details and the overall heirarchy of the Pol architecture. The book not only has wonderful images but also is beautifully designed- great collection for the libraray.  We visited the miniature Kite Museum which was run by this lovely organization called Vaarso. It was great just wandering through the old city. My mind was alive with memories of days spent in CEPT when we would grudgingly step into the old city. Over the years, we opened our minds to wonders of these streets. Just when it started to feel like home, it was time to move on. For me- I left the country. Coming back after 10 years to my favorite city, I could not help observe how calm its residents are in all this excitement. Happy to welcome you into their homes, their lives, try a chikki here, chat with a couple of kids there, sit with the pujari of the temple while she undoes a mess of dori and for me- I made shy eye contact with many style bhais on the roof top ready to start a second day of the kite flying madness. I again shadowed Gopal of Mumbai Paused, watching him in action, as he chatted away with the various people, photographing them, listening to their stories. People start to comfortably pose for the camera as you make it more about them and not just a random click. We went to this very tall building, to see the view of the city below. It was absolutely beautiful. It seemed to be tallest building in the old city. The random overlapping grids of the streets, the chaos of the old city, layered with the colorful kites in the sky, speckled with people on rooftops, music blaring, merging into familiar Bollywood songs blending, the chatter, a general air of celebration and joy.

As I make this post, I read online that today on Feb 26th, Amdavad celebrates 600 years. So sharing with you this wonderful city at its best-

See the Picture that Gopal clicked here
I also made a drawing for Prashant of the view of the rooftop we were flying kites on. I did not document the final sketch but Gopal clicked a pic of me starting to draw.
Maybe Prashant can scan me a copy so I can put it up here.

Grazia Magazine- A sweet little article

Its one thing to google yourself and find your name in search engines but its a whole different experience to see your name on the glossy page of a magazine.
But that's not entirely why this article is special to me.

When features writer - Mamta Mody, of  Grazia magazine contacted me to do be part of an article she was writing on her Grazia's favourite women food blogger, I was flattered and super excited.  She had seen my blog - liked it and invited me to join her and 5 other women bloggers for brunch at the Tote on the Turf.

I was not sure who else was invited, but in the last few months fellow food bloggers of Mumbai have become more like a close circle of friends. When I walked in at the Tote, my eyes lit up as I recognized 4 of the 6 women present there. In fact I was friends with them and had hung out with them in different food related events such as lunches, dinners, tea and coffee, had discussions on food and life with them, and even attended an herb growing workshop. In an incredibly busy city like Mumbai, it is amazing to meet like minded people, from whom I could learn, whose blogs I like to read and most of all women whom I admired. This was my group of women friends who I was extremely proud of. I immediately made friends with the other two bloggers and could not wait to see their blogs.

These women know their food, know ingredients, their eyes light up as they discuss food blogging, crazy recipes, food presentation. For all of us food blogging has been a life changing experience. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. We discussed food love stuff, strange foods, the waffles over brunch (those were good waffles), toppings, the breads, the oils, the dips, the dessert, the sweet Khousuey Soup Chef, the drinks, the colors, the blogs, the trends, our methodologies,  the readers-  we talked about it all. It was a glorious table of food discussion.

So sharing with you this beautiful brunch with these prolific women bloggers.
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal- A perfect Bite
Poonam Joshi- Homemade Happiness
Anushruti RK- Divine Taste
Shaheen Peerbhai- Purple Foodie
Snigdha Manchanda Binjola- Now Cooking
Avanika Kiswani- Yummilicious

Oh! And my favourite line in the article
"Some of Jyotika's blog post might remind you of an episode of Ian Wright or Anthony Bourdain's travel show."

Though we were photographed over brunch, I could not resist bringing my camera along and taking some of these photos. The light was perfection that Sunday afternoon.
Shaheen and Poonam
Anushruti and Shaheen
Anushruti, Rushina, Snigdha, Avanika
Rushina, Anushruti, Sngdha, Poonam, Shaheen, Avanika
The waffles everyone loved!
Mamta- the interviewer/ writer
Taras the photographer
Aarti- the Art Director
Enjoying lunch after the wrap up. They worked really hard.

The actual article itself. Do pick up a copy of Grazia's Dec 2010 issue and read it for yourself.

Other Mumbai women bloggers whose blogs I love to read:

Lulu love Bombay
The chronicles of the Sassy Fork
Sunshine Mom's- Tongue ticklers
Hungry and Excited
Bombay Foodie

Navratri Nights- CEPT Style!

I'm back in Bombay with the Ahmedabad Blues. The Navratri music is still playing in my head- the coarse voice of the village singer is swimming in my mind as I hum the tunes of traditional Garba music such as "Pankhira" and "Dholina". I went back to Ahmedabad after 8 years. I have a long association with the city. To begin with- I was born there. I came back to study high school there and then later SID, CEPT. It was a city I had my first crush in, my first love, and my first heartbreak. I grew up in this city. My time at SID was the most formative years of my life. From struggling to understand the technicalities of space to a simple idea of a concept. What I love about Ahmedabad is the celebrations. Whether its Holi, Janamashtmi, Navratri, Diwali or Uttarayan- the festivities are beautiful and magical. More so the CEPT University takes pride in the celebrations that it hosts for the city.
Navratri- Nine Nights - before Dussehra (the tenth day) is celebrated all over Gujarat and Maharastra with nine nights of dancing. At CEPT, Navratri becomes an incredible project in lighting design, sculpture, painting murals, and most of all hospitality. It is one of the most popular Garba in all of Ahmedabad. It is the most traditional where everyone dances in a big circle around the Devi Ambe and the music is always performed by village musicians and yet very modern and a bit anti-establishment-like. I remember working in the studio, slipping on a chaniya (skirt) and running to the grounds to do a couple of rounds of dancing and then running back to the studio and pulling an all nighter for a submission next morning. Aah those were the days- sleepless nights. My body would hurt for nine days but the spirit of dancing was more important.
Oooh the other thing that I love about the CEPT garba is the fashionable clothing. The women mostly experment in styles, mixing Western with traditional. Backless Cholis have always been the flavor of the season. Mirrored long skirts paired with halter tops. Sexy cholis with jeans. Even a traditional Chaniya Choli outfit paired in its textures and color looks very unique. Big jewellery pieces, head gears, lovely draping of dupattas all make for gorgeous accessories.
Below are the photos of the incredible lighting- all designed by SID students (so proud), the dancing and the fashions at CEPT. I tried once again to sort through the hundreds of pictures I took.
Also want to thank the Shastris for being such great hosts, Lahar for the company to Ahmedabad. It was a pleasure meeting all my old pals- Kamalika, Anand, Vishal, Natasha, Chandni, Dhara, Pooja, Birju, and ofcourse interacting with the new soon- going to be fabulous designers.
CEPT never ceases to inspire...

Hear the sound of the music. I love the song Dholina.

The kid sleeping belonged to the family of musicians. The music is played all the way to the wee hours of the morning. These nine days is probably the most important way of making an income for the family. hence the sacrifice.

And now for some of the hot Belles that caught my eye. Well some of them I knew..