Of Fragrances and Crafts from the Plains

“Have you ever tried Ittar?”asked a friend of mine during a Sunday lunch at my house in the suburbs of Sydney. “I beg your pardon?” “Ittar!”she says and pulls out a little vial that says ShahiGulab in big letters with Rosa damascena written under it, which I understood was a botanical name. “Go on, open it,”she said. The moment I opened the vial, a strong, unmistakable gush of rose-filled air escaped from it. I almost had a…

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Being One With Nature At Orange County Kabini

  “Mother Nature is our teacher—reconnecting us with Spirit, waking us up and liberating our hearts. When we can transcend our fear of the creatures of the forest, then we become one with all that is; we enter a unity of existence with our relatives—the animals, the plants and the land that sustains us.” -          Sylvia Dolson, Naturalist and Wildlife Photographer I was a boy of twelve when we went on a family adventure trip into the…

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The Jasmine Lady of Madurai

  “Let this delicate blossom not toil on the rugged sylvan earth. Let its dainty buds wind their way up my glorious chariot and adorn it with their mesmerizing fragrance.” Said King Pari when he saw the wild, yet fragile jasmine buds and the vine creeping on the floor of the forest in which he went hunting. Thus the jasmine, called Mallipoo in Tamil, rose to significance. So says a legend from one of the earliest Tamil…

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Nations, Borders and Ceremonies

  Learning is a process that never ends and one of the best ways to learn about the world is to travel. This journey to India was my lesson in history. I understand that I’m beginning this story on a rather somber note by alluding to certain tragic events in the historical timeline of the Indian subcontinent. The choice was deliberate and perhaps necessary in this context. History has a bizarre pattern, which it repeats ad infinitum…

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Tea and Tibet in India’s Northeast

The English drinking their tea is a ubiquitous stereotypical image. It shows a typical ‘English’ family sitting in a garden holding teacups around a little table with a tea-pot on it. This, despite the fact that tea was neither an English discovery nor was the plant native to the island. I will now admit to some truths – I’m English, I love tea and my family sometimes fits the stereotype. One may wonder why I’m driveling so…

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