Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday at Siddappa's

Sometime ago my old acquaintance from another life, photographer Mahesh Bhat, mentioned the well known Siddappa’s Dosa joint in Sampangiramanagar. Since it just so happened that I had to pass that way the next morning, I dropped by said hello to Siddappa as I paid for my Dosa and allowed myself to be enthralled by the quaint old world mannerisms and charm of that delightful place. Half a crisp Masala Dosa soaking in ghee is served on a small square of newspaper as you sit inside the house or outside on benches with dozens of others and await your turn to be served. The dosa was so rich and filling that I didn’t eat anything till dinnertime.

When Rashmi suggested we resume our Sunday Sketching Sessions once more, I suggested this place and we both landed there. 

The atmosphere in this place suggests it is one of those rare nooks in Benglur that has been forgotten by time.

We roped in our dear friend Prashant too. While Prashant has the ability to figure out the most confusing directions in the bylanes of Benglur, he got hopelessly lost by simple directions such as ‘take a left opposite Hotel Geo and the first left after’. He arrived angry and breathless much later.
As much as I am a big hog, I did not partake Dosa here a second time. I didn’t think my system would take kindly to being drenched with the deluge of ghee once more. However Rashmi and Prashant gave it a go. Being Northies and used to rich, full fat food, they returned indignant – ‘they serve only half a dosa!’. Then Rashmi polished off an entire dabba of Coconut Fried Chicken that I had brought for her and Prashant disappeared into Siddappa’s kitchen and returned brandishing a large bottle of ghee. He must have collared the cook into parting with it. Knowing the handfuls of ghee Prashant smears on his chapattis, he’ll probably finish it within a week.

There is plenty to sketch here so we will be returning. Our drawings too can only get better as we absorb more and more of this delightful place into the pages of our sketchbooks.

- Here is an excellent account of Siddappa's Dosas with pictures >>
- An irreverent and insightful look at Benglur through the eyes of Andy Deemer at 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Delhi on my Mind

The Mughal ruins that pop up amid the chaotic shrubbery in the vast expanse of Mehrauli Archaeological Park do not disrupt the landscape as modern buildings do. They do not hamper our ability to breath freely in open space and they do not jar at our vision. Instead they seem like old precious jewels scattered in a handful across the land by passing invaders for us poor succeeding generations to gaze at for a moment before going home. 
Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Graphite, Watercolour Pencil, Pastel in my Moleskine Sketchbook

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Achievement requires extended stretches away from the maddening psychological pressures created by news of others’ victories.
~ Alain de Botton

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Priya's Great Delhi Visit :-)

I’d wanted to go to Delhi all my life, however thanks to the frightening things I’d read about that city in the newspapers coupled with the fact that I barely spoke a dozen words of Hindi, I didn’t even attempt to step over the confines of the South and simply sat around feeling hugely envious of all who travelled to that fabulous and frightening city. Then Suhas went off to Delhi and excitedly spoke about the place in lengthy conversations on the phone. Every now and then there would be an enticing picture on Facebook and then one day he said the magic words, ‘Book a ticket and come off!’ I didn’t waste any time.
I have to pause this blog post for a mo to say this: In Suhas I am blessed to have had the best host ever. He took such good care of me. He took me everywhere, never ever left my side, always made sure I was all right, always helpful (‘let me carry your jacket’), always enthusiastic, polite, patient and fun. I barely had to ask him for anything. It was all thought out and offered already. As in Benglur, he knew the best places for everything. And to add to his extensive list of virtues, every morning he would cook this absolutely hot, healthy, nutritious and delicious South Indian hot rice breakfast to sustain us through the day. If there was some gold medal for best host, I’d recommend him at once. He was amazing.
This sign was made by Suhas to be held up in the airport on my arrival :-)
I am not going to fill this post with pictures of the magnificent Delhi monuments. No picture will do justice to the emotions they evoke. Instead, here are some glimpses of my visit and pages from my now packed sketchbook. After this visit, the name Delhi which once evoked awe and fear, brings instead a lot of happy memories and a sense of wonder at the riches my country offers to those who search for it.
Big fat beautiful seed pod from a bird filled tree across Suhas's terrace.
Everything is Delhi is bigger, better and more beautiful.

Park at Haus Khaz village

Vintage tile picked up from a shop at Hauz Khas :-)

My first Tibetan meal and best ever gargantuan feast at Yeti

Skech and photo from Safdarjung's tomb

Sketch from Lodhi Gardens above and Moong dhal dumplings in a delicious green chilli sauce
with radishes, below.

 Delhi's Red Carrot juice was absolutely super!

The 'In your face' Old Delhi. Thankfully I went on Republic day when it was fairly empty. Even then its aggression and soul-killing poverty left me shaken.

 The famous Paratha joint at Old Delhi. People ate dozens of these.

Nan Khatai biscuit vendor. The biscuits were warm and tasty.

Below - Qutub Minar!

The picture below is my favourite. This man must be from somewhere in Central Asia, looking at his turban. I think he is from Uzbekistan or Samarkand. He belongs there under that beautiful arch like he's lived there all his life.

 The gorgeous ruins of Mehrauli Archeological park.
We explored through dozens of ruined and hidden passages and doorways...

and walked through the mind-blowing construction of this Step Well

A small sketch above of the beautiful structure below.
And lunch at the funky Mamagoto afterwards at Select Citywalk, a complete contrast :-)
We spent hours at the lovely CMYK Mehar Chand Market
So many other memories jotted down below. Sketchbooking certainly helps in processing the blur of memories into something tangible within pages.
In a crowded Metro (pronounced Matt-ro) ride, I made my way towards an empty seat and hesitated when I saw a kerchief placed there. Suddenly a voice behind me said, Madam, ye hamara seat hai! (Madam, this is my seat!). I moved away. Later, when the Metro stopped, I got a forceful whack on my shoulder. Surprised I turned around to see two rugged Delhi men excitedly beckoning me towards the now empty seat, Madam! Baito idhar se! (Madam, sit here!)
In Benglur's Meru taxi, a polite recorded voice in a nice English accent welcomes you when you get in with, 'Welcome to Meru Taxi Service...' When I got into the Meru Cab in Delhi to get back to the airport, a loud high-pitched voice said, 'Velkum to the Hunee Bunee ride...' and then in a high decibel it sang, 'Hunee Bunee, Hunee Bunee, Hunee Buneeeeee....'
When I think of the art and architecture left for us by successive Mughal dynasties, I marvel at their vision, their sophistication and their culture. Their art does what art is truly meant to do to our minds – it elevates, it helps us transcend the mundane. Their art is indeed human spirit at its best - it has touched the divine. I am grateful to have been allowed in this lifetime, to catch a glimpse of this in the complex and beautiful city of  Delhi.