Posts Tagged ‘India’

World Cup Fever!
Author: Gnaana

Are you excited?  I certainly am.  For those of you who know me well, you know I have a soft spot for South Africa.  Maybe it’s because I was so moved by Mandela’s autobiography (recommended on our In The Gnaana page), or maybe it’s because Gandhi spent over 20 year there.  I don’t know – but I have Mandela quotes framed and was weak in my knees when I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu while living in Bangalore.  So the fact that South Africa is the first African nation to host this World Cup is more than just a historical event – it’s pure symbolism of the unity of sports.

Will South Africa be able to pull off a home town win against Mexico on opening day?  Or will the US be able to upset England?  The kids and I will certainly be watching.  (Game schedule here).

Now India didn’t qualify – BUT did you know that a group of Indian kids won the Street Child World Cup held in Durban, South Africa earlier this year?  India was one of 8 countries to participate in this groundbreaking event – organized by UK Human Rights organization Amos Trust as a “celebration of the potential of street children.  The tournament garnered attention and support from David Beckham and Archbishop Tutu, among others.  You can read about (and support) this inspirational organization on their website.  The video brought tears to my eyes.


We actually don’t have any coffee tables in our house (it’s a vaastu thing), so we’d call these “end table books.”  I like to display books around the house – so the kids can browse through them when they want.  I rotate the books (like I do with our toys) every now and then to keep things fresh – but these 3 are my absolute favourites – and are always story-starters for the kids:

Light of India: A Conflagration of Indian Matchbox Art by Warren Dotz :  This is much more than a book of pretty matchbox visuals – think of it as a concise distillation of Indian history, culture and iconography.  From images of India’s historical heroes, architecture, religious and political symbols – it’s great learning for the kids.  It really is “India in a matchbox.”

Around the Word in 80 Plates by Rashmi Uday Singh:  From Asia to Europe and Africa and Australia, this book is a collection of recipes from 80 celebrated chefs around the world.  AND all the dishes are vegetarian!  I fail to understand why this book hasn’t received more press – it’s a must-have in any gastronome’s library.

Beasts of India by Gita Wolf and Kanchana Arni:  This is an amazing compilation of Indian folk and tribal art that kids can really relate to.  There are pictures of lions, tigers and other “beasts” in various regional art – even my 4-year-old can distinguish between Madhubani and Gond styles.  And the book is actually “handmade” – it’s screenprinted on handmade paper.  Talk about art!


source:  unknown haveli

So I’ve been pouring through design magazines and websites for inspiration as we build our new home.  We’re contemplating putting in a jhoola (swing), and I found so many lovely images that I’m now wanting to put one in every room of the house!  Seeing these jhoolas takes me back to the summers I spent in India –  I’d nap or read on them or just play games with my cousins.

source:  Naureen Bokhari

A jhoola is a common element in many traditional Indian homes.  I particularly love the symbolism behind them:  it’s as though the chains of the jhoola are links with the heavens above.  (Now I’ll confess the Telugu word for swing is ooyala but since we don’t have very many common household words that start with the letter “jha,” we’ve adopted the Hindi word.  Plus, jhoola is just a beautiful word!)

Pictured above is a custom-designed jhoola by Jay Jeffers (my absolute favourite).  Below are 2 playroom-ready jhoolas: by Modern Convenience and the infamous Eero Aarnio hanging Bubble Chair .

And jhoolas can be modern too!  Check out the Wabi Lawn Swing by Italian-designer Francesco Rota.  (Source of image on the right is unknown).


I’m always searching for fresh and interesting music to play in our house.  I just happened to catch a random episode of Music Voyager on PBS one night featuring music from the “Delhi Underground,” when I came across the East India Company band.  It’s a group of 5 guys all originally from Assam and Northeast Inda, and who are now based in Delhi and travel all over India (and a handful of other countries, including New Zealand).  They blend traditional and folk music with rock, reggae and electronica.  Awesome!

You can check out some of their tunes on the band’s website.  My favourites are Boitha Maro (a traditional Assamese folk song that’s a tribute to the region’s fishermen) and Dum Mast Kalandar (orignally a ballad from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan).

The band’s lead singer – Angaraag Mahanta (known as Papon) – has this snake-like voice that I can’t get enough of.  I haven’t been able to locate any of his albums for purchase yet, so the kids and I have resorted to YouTube (Nanda Geet is my son’s favourite).  Not bad, but I’m determined to get my hands on an album…


This post is authored by Ms. Alpana Aras-King, a San Francisco-based photographer and creator of Storybox Art.  Ms. Aras-King has worked with top ad agencies worldwide and specializes in maternity, newborn, family and children’s photography.

Down Memory Lane

Through my journey of becoming a photographer, one thing has been a constant:  I have always loved and will treasure my family’s old photographs.  Every time I go back to my parents’ home in India, I open our old photo box and browse through the yellowing black and white photos.  My dad used to take photos of us with his box camera, but he also hired professionals to photograph our family and home.

My business Storybox Art draws inspiration from that precious photo box that always lives in my heart.  It is my connection to history, and I think everyone should have their own box of memories to reflect upon.  Yes, custom photography is an investment, but it’s one that you will cherish down the road.

Understanding Your Investment.

Making a decision to hire a professional photographer is certainly a luxury.  Custom photographers are available in a variety of price ranges from $100-$450+ for the session fee, and print & product packages that range from $500-$4000+.  Getting Uncle Hari to take some family photos for a celebratory biryani meal may seem like a quick and easy option, but you probably won’t get heirloom art.  While you can and should continue to document your own memories, the value of hiring a true professional to capture poignant moments in your life is priceless.  Good photographers worth their salt have spent a lot of time cultivating their craft.  They have invested in their equipment and have the technical and artistic expertise to visualize your story.  Besides, they know how to make you look good – shooting from flattering angles and touching-up if needed!


Tips on Picking a Professional Photographer:

1. Review their portfolio and see if their art resonates with you.  Most professionals have a website that showcases their work.

2. There is a range of pricing for photography.  Typically, the costs involve a sitting or session fee and, in addition, the cost of prints and products purchased.

3. Have a friend recommend their family or child photographer.  You can get a firsthand account of their experience from start to finish.

4.  Ask if the photographer can assist you with making some key decisions – such as selecting clothing, locations or deciding on which products and print sizes are right for you.

5. Don’t pick the cheapest photographer. It is true that you get what you are paying for!  These are your forever memories so splurge if you have to.  Your custom session will be a tangible keepsake of that moment in time.

© 2010

Storybox Art is available for sessions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and for a limited number of sessions in Chicago, New York and Mumbai.  Become a Storybox Art fan on Facebook to stay tuned about upcoming sessions and news.


Looks like wall decals are here to stay – for a while at least.  They’re popping up everywhere these days – kids room and family spaces.  Here are a few that’ll take you back to India…if you dare!  (Most of these are available in several colors.)

Above is the Taj Mahal.  $80
Below – left to right:
Bidri Elephants $29.99
OM $24.00
Peacock $22.00

Below – left to right:
Ganesh €33,35
Lotus $25.00
Buddha $39.99