Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by dalbhat
These heavily laden knuckles are not just a fashion statement...although for a long time that's what I thought. It is hard not to notice that just about everyone has these rings on! I started asking some questions. Major life transitions will often lead a person to sport a new rock or metal on their hand or around their arm. For example, students may suddenly have them on their fingers in order to concentrate and do well on exams, newlyweds have them to learn how to manage their temper and get in sync with their new partner, a graduate may wear one to bring in prosperity. And if you ask, you nearly always get the reply that someone else (Ma?) insisted that they see an astrologer, who treated them with a specific remedial gem.

Here, according to Vedic astrology, gems ward off the evil effects of planets and enhance the benefits of certain beneficial planets, while also adding to someone's beauty and character. Gems are thought to have curative powers, and are able to "change the stars" in someone's direction. If you need help in keeping the mind calm, increasing income or greatly reducing wasteful expenditures, there should be a gem remedy for you.

I agree that they do indeed add to the wearer's character and personality.

Monday, August 13, 2007

S is for SHIL-NORA

Originally uploaded by dalbhat
This is the grinding stone used in most Bengali kitchens, to make masalas like posto (poppy) paste and mustard sauce for fish dishes!

It weighs a ton though I have imagined carrying it abroad with me more than once.

On Sundays, our complex opens its doors to the many vendors who come around singing out their various ads. One of them is the stone grinder, who chisels designs like fish motifs into the pointy end of the stone so that it can once again give optimum performance.

Indrani Sen wrote a paragraph in the Guardian Observer (11/19/06) that best seems to capture how the shil-nora makes its presence in the kitchen:

Kneeling beside Rani-di as the morning sun warmed the patio, I learned how to use the shil nora to grind the essential pastes of Bengali cooking - onion, ginger, dried red chilli, garlic, cumin and coriander. She showed me how to roll the mortar back and forth on the pocked stone slab, pausing to reposition the paste with wet fingertips.