Sunday, December 16, 2012

Greetings for the new year

It's been so long that someone has sent an actual letter or postcard, that I felt I should send something out myself! I remember the excitement of getting mail in the mailbox, with cursive writing, maybe a little drawing at the side, and some doodles on fancy letter paper. Emails are a great way to keep in touch, but nothing beats the rare letter or greeting.


Sunday, December 9, 2012


Zentangle is structured doodling. That's the best way to describe it I guess. It was made popular by a couple and many use it to de-stress and for meditation. It is a great way to unwind after a long day. I keep a notepad next to my bed. The repetitive doodling puts you in a lulled state and helps me sleep when sleep is elusive.

It's quite easy to get started. The original concept asks for you to doodle within a 9x9cm square template, but this is no strict rule. The next step is to divide this box into sections. This could be a simple circle at one corner of the margin, or a more complicated division.

Now comes the interesting part. Fill in each section with a doodle pattern. There are various patterns available on the Internet if you get stuck. It can be as spaced or as intricate as you want. If something doesn't go exactly the way you want, do not erase or backtrack it. The whole idea is to let your hand and mind flow freely.

There are no mistakes - only happy accidents.

You can either keep it monochrome or add colour. This particular one I did on the computer. I still need to scan the ones I did by hand. Will update soon.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Painted Laminated Cabinet

I was skeptical painting over laminate, but after priming a corner, I believed it was going to be OK. I didn't even bother sanding it down. Up went two coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. The distressed look - done with acrylic paint this time - didn't turn out perfect. But it's not too bad.

Here's the before:
and after:

The room looks a brighter and happier place. The paint is holding up, although there were a few scratches while putting the shelves back together again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Painted Table

Most of the furniture in our home is solid wood. I like natural wood finishes but in a small space, it becomes too dull to just see shades of brown everywhere. So, they're all getting painted!

The study table was the first actual paint project. (The wicker seats don't count because, well, a 2 year old can use a can of spray paint.) I don't have a 'before' picture as Husband got excited and started sanding the thing before I could take one. Here's an image I got from the net - it kinda looks like what we had, but with drawers.

It took us about 2 hours to sand the whole thing with a medium grit (120) sandpaper just enough so that the varnish was scraped. Then came the wood primer mixed with a bit of turpentine so that it is easier to spread. We used paint brushes to get some texture on the wood - I didn't want it too smooth since I was going for the distressed look, which was why we didn't sand the table very evenly. We gave it about 8 hours to dry before the 2nd coat. We barely used half a litre of primer with 200ml of turpentine.

Then the painting started after another 8  hours. We used light teal. It's a beautiful and bright color that would've looked even better with a better wall colour. But for now, the dirty cream is what we're stuck with. Husband was insisting we use a putty to smoothen out the roughness, but like I said, I wanted some texture, and that's what we stuck to. It took us two coats of paint, with each coat drying for about 8 hours. (The paint was also diluted in turpentine. We had to get 1 litre of paint as that is the minimum size being sold, so we have with a lot leftover.)

The drawers were painted bright yellow. This paint was the 'signboard yellow' easily available in small amounts and I didn't have to mix any thinner. I just made sure I mixed it well in the can as the bulk of the pigment settles at the bottom of the container. I used scotch tape around the edges to catch the paint and had to do 3 coats. Husband got some new hardware as well, to go with the new look.
Finally, using the same sandpaper, I roughed up the edges a little. It gives the table some character I think. I had a can of PU finish which I sprayed on top for some protection. I don't think it was absolutely necessary, but since I had it I thought 'Eh! Why not?'.
Now, with the leftover paint we shall start the next piece of furniture - a laminated cabinet in the same room.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Easy paint job

This month is paint month. I started with the easiest of the lot - wicker seats. The polish had worn off long ago and it was looking quite a junk yard piece. So a can of spray to the rescue.

I didn't need to sand or prime the surface. I just washed the seats with a water spray and let it dry for 2 days. Then just spray painted the whole thing. It dried up in a few hours but I kept it out to dry for 2 days just to be sure. I didn't want a dramatic change of colour - wanted to keep it light. Just make sure surrounding surfaces are covered with paper before spraying and the area is well ventilated.

Here's the before/after. Like I said, not a drastic change in colour, but it looks fresh and almost new.

Next up, study table. That's gonna take a bit of sanding. Not looking forward to that bit.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Arrival of Ganesh

When I was growing up, festivals were a time for families to get together and meet friends and neighbors. It was more about socializing than anything else.

These days it seems everything is more about the noise - How much louder and longer I can blast my music and fire crackers than the next building. Where I stay, every opportunity they get, they bring in the loud speakers and mic. There will be an announcer no one wants to hear and loud music. In case of the current Ganesh festival, also a group of very out of tune bhajan 'singers'. Our ears have been ringing with all the noise. Except for Eid. Nothing happens on Eid. There aren't enough people who celebrate the festival who want loud speakers.

Now I don't have anything against people celebrating. I in fact have nothing against anyone doing anything as far as they are not infringing on someone else's space. I will also tolerate fire crackers for a day if required. But unfortunately that's not what usually happens. The 'celebrations' go on for a few days consecutively. That means you don't even get time to recuperate from the headache you got last night.

There is absolutely no consideration for people who don't celebrate the festival or for those who prefer to do it in a quieter fashion.

How I remember the festival is the colony getting an idol on day one; then every evening at the pre-fixed time everyone would gather around it and sing hymns (without mics); then on the eve of the idol immersion, there would be an entertainment show with residents dancing or singing. A procession would be taken out the next day to take the idol and immerse it in a water body. Plain and simple.

You know you're getting old when you wish for 'the good old days'. Sigh!

Friday, September 7, 2012


We had gone to Kenya in 2009 so this post is a little late. But I just realized that I missed posting about Amboseli after having written about Nairobi, Nakuru, and Masai Mara. So here it is, finally.

We drove down from Nairobi and most of the route was excellent (some sections of the road were still being built - should be all ready by now). However, construction for the rest was still underway so we did see some flat tires on the way (including ours). It took us roughly about 4 hours to reach Sentrim Lodge where we were staying in tented accommodation. The only difference was that it didn't lack any modern-day luxury. You could hear the chirping of the birds as they woke you up in the morning, and the distant rumble of the larger animals was the lullaby that put you to sleep.

We had gone in August and the temperatures dipped to singles digits in the evenings. Days were pleasant as well. On a clear day, Mount Kilimanjaro would make an awesome backdrop to this beautiful landscape. However, during our 2-night stay, it made an appearance but briefly.

The landscape is flat and so vast that it is not possible to see every detail from the assigned track even with good binoculars. But, the authorities strictly enforce the ban on vehicles that wander off the track. That way the rightful residents can go about their business without much intrusion. Don't let that dishearten you. You still get a front-seat to some awesome moments.

Our safaris were always eventful. The highlight had to be a mating pair of lions. It pays to stop and take in the atmosphere, because you will rewarded with wondrous sights. We happened to see this ritual only because we saw a lone baby elephant and stopped to say hello. While our guide was explaining how this baby could be under threat from lions looking for a meal, we see a pair trot by. They flirt, and mate. We wait for about 40 minutes with them just 20 feet away form us. They mate again and go off into the sunset.

Another incident was the case of the scratching elephants. Even though we had seen more elephants during this trip than we could count, we wanted more. So when we saw another pair, we waited while these pachyderms crossed the street, and went straight to a rock and started scratching their asses off on it. They did this for a good 5 minutes then went on their way satisfied, giving us a hearty laugh.

Amboseli is known for its elephants, and we found out why soon enough. Elephants everywhere you go, of all sizes, just roaming free without a care in the world. One of the herds encountered two lions resting in their path. They closed ranks and moved in a group cautiously, protecting their young. In the end, the lions had to get up and give way to the mighty tuskers. So much for the King of the Jungle. Here, elephants obviously rule.

Then there were other denizens of the forest who made brief appearances throughout our trip.

 If there were no fauna in sight, then we took the time to marvel at the flora and the awesome landscape.

The sunsets were quintessentially from an African Safari picture book

 And the moonlight was even better: