Ode to London

I am in London, and all is well with the world.

It is fantastic to be back in the city where I grew up, where everything is so familiar and comfortable. I feel like a missing puzzle piece that has finally been popped back into it’s place.

I grew up in a leafy part of South London, and my parents still live in the house that they bought when I was five. Everything here makes me painfully, almost unbearably nostalgic.
When I walk to the station, the smell of honeysuckle and fresh grass reminds me of childhood summers spent at Wimbledon park. The pair of slouchy teenagers at the bus stop wearing half-undone uniforms, remind me of my secondary school days. Even the music in Marks and Spencers (Jarvis Cocker) makes me happy.

So here are some of my favourite things about London…

  1. Mobility. I don’t need a car to get anywhere! As a visitor I don’t need to rely on anyone to get anywhere, I can just put on my coat and go. Everything is supremely walkable, and if not, bus-able and tube-able!!
  2. Veggie-friendliness. The knowledge that good quality vegetarian food is  available pretty much anywhere I go, is always a bonus. Even the museums and galleries have great meal options for my kids (take note Smithsonian Institute, and the rest of Washington DC!)
  3. Anything goes. There is a slight craziness to London. Eccentricity is appreciated, and not many heads turn when I wear something particularly outlandish, or my child talks loudly in Tamil on a bus.
  4. Tea -Time….with a proper cup of strong tea…with milk….and good biscuits. Why has this not caught on in the rest of the world? It is the most beautiful part of the day.
  5. The customer is always right. When you ask a sales associate where something is in a London store, they will not only give you a courteous answer, but they often walk you to the product, and help you pick it out. No sneering. SO nice.
  6. The Asian Connection. There are a lot of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans here. Many are second and third generation immigrants. It is nice to be part of such a large and established community. My daughter was excited that people knew what Bindis and salwars are, and amazed at the variety and number of ‘aunties’ around.
  7. Good Design. The British are a design savvy lot, and don’t settle for rubbish much. Even the chocolate wrappers are designed more thoughtfully over here.

I could go on and on, and I know I’ve left out some really obvious stuff. This is just what has been on my mind for the last couple of days. 

Anyway, I won’t keep you any longer, I’ve got a cup of tea and some biscuits waiting! Oooh, and my parents. I’m so happy.

Funny Signs

The Mysore Zoo is impressive in so many ways.
It has a huge and varied collection of animals, some so rare and exotic that it seems quite unbelievable that you are looking at them.

Some of the highlights of our visit were a white tiger, an albino peacock, a Tapir, and (much to my daughter’s confusion, and my embarrassment) a rather amorous bison couple.

Despite these fascinating discoveries, I found myself increasingly drawn away from the animals and towards the signage at the Zoo.
These are  wonderfully gruesome, very informative, and ever so funny for those of us who enjoy a bit of black humor.

Have a look at a couple of pictures we took:

A Sketchy State of Mind

It seems like ages and ages since I last blogged. The holy trinity of Free time, Computer, and Connectivity have been very elusive since I arrived in India.  I have been practically bursting with news, but with no outlet everyday.
All of this, however, pales in comparison with the following discovery for me…

I have forgotten to bring a sketchbook!


I have never traveled without a sketchbook and drawing materials. At home I have shelves of sketchbooks crammed with notes, drawings and keepsakes from my numerous pre-maternal travel experiences. These sketchbooks are visual diaries, keepers of beautiful memories, and considered old friends. I have even given some of them names (Albert from 1998 is particularly fascinating, and slightly baroque).

Even on vacation with my kids, laughably, I always pack a sketchbook……. just in case.
Often it languishes unused in my bag for the whole vacation, but the knowledge that it is there is comforting.

Well, there is no point in wallowing.  I guess I will just have to make do with a camera for a little while.

Here are some pictures (taken most professionally with my husband’s  iphone) of my daughter and I getting our hands painted with Henna for an event. I like the way the henna artist doesn’t plan out her design, and just makes it up as she goes along. It reminds me of the continuous line drawings that I used to do with my students.

Now I’m thinking of some henna inspired prints for my Autumn/winter T-shirt collection. Maybe I’ll call it the Indian Summer collection. More about that later.
Ooh…..I wish I had a sketchbook right now!