Monday, September 29, 2014

Vignettes from Karishma & Anish's home in Korea

I first 'saw' Karishma (her pic rather) on Facebook, when her cousin posted wedding pics of Karishma and Anish. She made a beautiful blushing bride, and the pictures were shot so beautifully that they went a bit viral, and the comments kept pouring in. I did my share of going back and looking, once, sometimes twice a day - I am a big fan of wedding pics! Besides the gorgeous bride and her dashing groom, there was something else that caught my eye in her wedding pics. The old-world charm and architectural details, the beauty and the drama of her parental home in  Bhopal.

Cut to a couple of weeks back, when Karishma and I connected via The Keybunch page on Facebook. We got talking, and I realised she was now based in Korea, and I loved the colorful, warm, charming little decor touches that have gone into making her home look fabulous! Her home is a lovely blend of natural elements, peaceful Buddhas in serene corners, pre-loved or new but really eye-catching vases and more! I had to share a few corners :)

 So here we are, with Karishma giving you little bytes of information on the beautiful vignettes she has created in her home!

 Books are an integral part of the character and decor in our home. Some of Anish's favorite ones find themselves propped against vases on consoles and shelves...

I love, love, love cushions. And the more colorful, the better. I also love floor
seating and here you see one such arrangement with a mattress and some of my 
favorite cushions on it.

A few plants, throw in some flowers in a nice ceramic milk jug and give me a comfortable cane chair and I can lose myself in my thoughts for hours on end, staring out of the balcony window, watching the world pass by :-)

A lot of the stuff you see in my home is the result of DIY projects. Here you see coasters that I made from Korean handmade paper in the shape of water lilies.

I love collecting buddhas in all forms. Here you see two of them, one that is carved out of wood. The other in brass is one that I really love. It's a gift from my mother in law.

 I love rustic decor…such as this ‘barnee’ that I carried from India and now use as a vase in our home :-)

Here’s another Buddha, a gift from a dear friend that is very precious to me and was the first in my collection…

Other than writing and photography, I love to paint and my husband loves to see 
my own art adorn the walls of our home. Here you see one of my oil paintings,
 titled ‘Ecstasy’ on the wall.

Karishma, it was a pleasure having you here. Thanks for sharing these beautiful vignettes of your home in Korea.

And for us dear readers, there are lots of take-aways from this beautiful home -For one, it's always a pleasure to see traces of Indianness in the homes of Indians abroad. Karishma's lovely incorporation of the old 'barnee' into her decor is a nice, subtle way of doing this. So also the bursts of color from her cushions.

I also loved the way fresh flowers add so much character to her home.

I loved that Anish encourages her to paint and display her own art in their home!

What did you like best about this gorgeous space? Tell Karishma and Anish in the comment section below :D

Karishma has a home and garden blog called 'A Treat for the Senses'. You could connect with her on her FB page here.

Pic credit Karishma Banerji Madan. Please do not copy or distribute for commercial or non-commercial purposes without her explicit permission.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Home Tour, Mumbai {3 designers transform an apartment into a beautiful space with a world-ethnic feel}

Did that pic catch your eye? It did mine - I saw that beautiful old door, with the carving on it - and I couldn't quite place the design - was it Mexican, was it Spanish, was it Indian? "It must be Indian," I thought, "because that little girl is wearing a bindi, and she is Indian for sure!" And that little girl - her innocence is such a lovely contrast to the seasoned look of that door! :)

 And won't you just look at her - so sweet and adorable, totally oblivious to the camera...

It turned out that yes this was an apartment in India, yes, the little munchkin is Indian, and that door is all teak, with a little old carved piece, and deliberately made to look like it can belong to any culture that has the kind of rich background in art that India has - a world-ethnic look if you like. :)

The Project Brief
The Assignment was to remodel a 4 BHK apartment at Raheja Classique in Andheri West, Mumbai .
When they spoke to the design trio made up of Anu Tandon Vieira (designer), Shalini Dhawan(designer) and Jaya Peter (film maker)  their brief was clear and simple
The lady of the house said, "Please do not make it look filmi, as we come from a film background, and we do not want our home looking like a Bollywood set".
The man of the house said, "I want a place that is dog-friendly. No polished floors, please. Rustic floors are more kind to a dog's nails"
The lady of the house said, "Give a bungalow feel to our apartment. Earthy, arty is fine, but definitely not filmy. Give me a modern interior with world ethnic sensibilities"
The man of the house said, " I love to entertain in the kitchen while I cook. Cooking destresses me, so give me a kitchen that would suit my hobby, and also my love for good conversation with great friends while I cook"

They were to create a home where beauty meets utility, making maximum use of natural material.

Now wasn't that a lovely brief? The trio of designers thought so too! With the above requests, the clients gave them full freedom to unleash their creativity in this home, and that's exactly what they did! Each of them brought key traits to this project. Please read more about them at the bottom of this post.

And yes, what you see in this home is an essence of various cultures without it being labelled as one or the other.. Check out the tiles in this picture for instance. They could pass off as Mexican, Portugese, even Attangudi. What are they really? Cement, handmade tiles that are put together in a beautiful patch-work welcome note at the entrance.

In keeping with the request for a dog-friendly floor, the designers opted for these tiles in the entryway, and a subtle border in every room. The living room has riverwashed limestone.

Says Jaya, "We started thinking creatively  in September 2013. The actual work on the flat started in December 2013 and we completed the project in Sept 2014.
We started by breaking down the house to its bare shell, creating spaces that are airy and spacious,softening the edges of the walls and  changing its contours  to sweeping sensuous curves, aesthetic niches flowing from the interior of the house to the exterior ,and designing an eclectic floor space that is animal friendly (using a mix of tiles and natural stone.)"

 The eye catching tile border around the limestone looks beautiful!

According to the Anu Tandon Viera, with whom I had a long talk about this home, " The whole home has elements that have a kind of permanence - it was made to last. Not with the idea that it could always be broken down tomorrow to make way for a newdesign!"

I thought that was lovely, especially as that's exactly how a home should be, in my view. I like the fact that a home can tell stories about the people who have lived and loved in it!

 All the 3 designers strongly conformed to this belief of building a home that would last, and careful thought went into designing and installing every aspect of the home. The idea of permanence overtook all other aspects. This home has no straight corners - they are all carefully rounded. The arches in the living area are reminiscent of the arches in some cultures, but they are not in any typical style.

The niches and built-in shelving (see living room pic above) were also carefully thought out, and are in line with the "permanence" that is such a strong feature of this home's design.


All the doors are made of teak wood. The old carved panels were bought, particular attention was paid to sourcing panels that looked ethnic, but could pass off as ones from any culture. Says Jaya, "We were able to acquire some antique wooden doors, windows,that were restored to add that unique old world charm that the client wanted."

 I particularly loved the design in the bathrooms. See for yourself

The designers say, "The bathrooms were fitted with specially designed antique faucets, showers etc , with each washbasin custom made according to a theme.. e.g., the guest bathroom followed an aqua theme with a fish wash basin , indigo  tiles with fish insets..."

The beautiful ceramic designs in the bathroom were customized. The design team worked out the motifs they wanted to incorporate, designed the look and shared the colorbar with the ceramists who were given complete creative freedom when making the actual pieces.

Didn't you love all that ceramic work? The brass taps and fittings were all imported because we do not get these brass beauties in India anymore!

The kitchen - I love the tiles and the gorgeous window vignette that the trio shared with me.

A lot of thought went into the kitchen - it is functional and completely modern, but the look is world ethnic.The mosaic on the island was pieced together from little bits of the same tiles. 

This is my fav click of the kitchen!

The balconies are beautiful little spaces that have the same handmade tiles and little nooks in the wall.

The patterned tiles which skirt the living room floor come together in a gorgeous patchwork quilt design on the balcony floor.

Another balcony (pics below) has a more sober version of these tiles on the floor.

The Master bedroom has Spanish tiles on the floor, and the tree of life design on the balcony door
The window was originally stained glass, but the designers left just a few bursts of blue, and replaced
the rest of the glass. They wanted to avoid a "typical" design, and also didn't want it to look too kitschy!

About the designers
Anu Tandon Vieira  is the founder of The Retyrement Plan, an initiative that uses discarded tyres, textile waste, twine, bamboo and cane to create furniture. Anu has worked on a wide array of projects ranging from restoration and refurbishing palaces in Udaipur to art direction for feature films to creating textiles for the international market. She has a background in sculpting.Anu has also been featured on this blog here.

Shalini Dhawan and Jaya Peter started livin art: functional art installations that balance form and function, craft and design. Their home furniture is made in organic shapes, fashioned from reclaimed wood and vividly painted/printed. Check out their projects on FB here.
Anu Tandon Viera

Each of them brought distinct strengths to this project. Anu played a key role in keeping everything functional, well-designed and made sure the spaces were used optimally.  For example, this louvred door right next to the front door actually led to the study. Anu wanted to remove the awkwardness and pointlessness of two doors right next to each other.

She conceptualized a large store area that took in a part of the study room, and made a mirror storage area on the other side of the study, to make the maximum use of this space.

Jaya Peter
Shalini Dhawan
Shalini on the other hand excels in detailing. She is an NID graduate. Her attention to detail is probably why this project has gone from great to wow! For instance, her detailing skills were responsible for the fabulous outcome of the kitchen - she orchestrated the exact placement of each piece of mosaic so that it came together the way it has!

Jaya who is a film director contributed valuable insights with her visualization and her tendency of  being able to see the whole picture.

The talented ladies have done a marvelous job with the interiors, but all of them say that it was all due to the fact that the client was a "dream client". Says Anu, "There was a complete sync in sensibilities yet complete freedom in terms of design. They never tried to force their ideas on them. The trust was fantastic, and that made the difference!"

I leave you with some final images of the home, so that you take back the warmth and the beauty of this space, when you leave this page.

Photos: Amber Wasi and Soumitro Ghosh.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

{Collaborative Fiction} MISSING contd.

Our StoryThis is part 15 of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'

Please read the backstory here 

Mumbai, India
Mumbai Airport had changed. Dr. Sneha Phadnis hurried out of the airport, as she tried to keep pace with Fanus. As she quickened her steps to catch up with him, she saw that Fanus had already hailed a taxi . He said something to a pleasant-faced driver, and then looked around for Sneha, beckoning her.  Sneha thankfully slid into the car. Mumbai was expectedly hot, humid and crowded! And the short walk in the heat had momentarily transported her back to her last visit to Mumbai with her kids. But she pushed that sweet memory to the back of her mind. There was work to do. She turned to Fanus, “Do you think we should stop at the police station first, or directly head to Jalsa?” Fanus said,” Doctor, I have told the driver to go to Jalsa first. If we don’t find him there, we can go to the Juhu Police Station.” Sneha nodded.  She continued, “Honestly, I am worried for his health, Fanus.” She took a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and added, “His mental health”. 

Fanus closed his eyes in pain. He had tried not to think about what Cyrus must be going through, out there alone.  He had pushed away thoughts about Cyrus’ broken spirit, just so that he could focus all his thoughts and energy on finding him. But Dr. Phadnis’ words had pierced through his resolve. As he struggled to regain control and be brave, the taxi driver caught sight of his broken look in the rear view mirror. He looked around and with his mouth stuffed with pan, a few grains of red betelnut glistening on the corner of his upper lips, asked, “Aap log museebath main hain, madamji?”(Are you in trouble? Fanus was still in a daze, worried about Cyrus, and unable to think straight. He looked blankly ahead.  Sneha glanced at him and then spoke to the driver’s reflection in the rear view mirror, “Haann, bhaiyya,” (Yes) she said. Pulling out Cyrus’ photograph she told him that they were here to search for him. She also told him that she was his doctor, and that the boy could be mentally unstable. That’s why they were so worried. She explained his obsession with Amithabh Bachhan and Bollywood, and the taxi driver put two and two together quickly. “Accha, isliye aap log Bhachansaab ke ghar jaa rahen hain(I see, is that why you are headed for the Bhachan residence?). Sneha nodded. Then as if trying to do his bit to help, the taxi driver sped up and Sneha and Fanus were thrown off balance.

The taxi wove in and out of the dense Mumbai traffic. Further ahead, the road cleared a bit, and as the buildings whizzed past, Sneha caught sight of a board outside a large building. ‘Dr Balabhai Nanavati  Hospital’ it read. “Gosh, why didn’t we think about it before? Bhaiyya, jaldi gaadi rokhon!” she shouted, and the taxi suddenly braked, as the driver changed lanes and brought the car to a screeching halt.  Sneha said, “Oh no! We have overshot the front gate.” The taxi driver nodded, apparently catching on quicker than Fanus who was still lost in his pain. The driver said that the U-turn was a long way off. He would wait here, and one of them could go inside. Sneha nudged Fanus and said, “Fanus, hurry! Please rush in and show this picture of Cyrus to the people at the front desk and emergency”.  Fanus’ brain slowly tried to process what Sneha was saying. He saw the hospital boards, and in a trice he came back to reality. He quickly got out of the car, and ran into the hospital building. Sneha was relieved that Fanus had snapped out of his ‘saudade’. Despite the tension, she smiled, surprised that the Portuguese word had popped into her consciousness now. She remembered that time in Portugal. When they were studying for a paper on depression, Liz, who was her roommate there, had explained the meaning of the word – “it’s a deep longing for one’s love, and usually when one thinks they are never going to see that person again”. When she remembered Liz’s words, Sneha shook her head in determination. “No”, she vowed, “Fanus and Cyrus are going to be reunited, and we are going to find Cyrus come what may!”

As Fanus got into the car again, Sneha was relieved to see a look of steely determination back on his face. He briefed her quickly, and after a quick conference with the taxi driver, they decided to stop at every hospital on the way to Amithab Bhachan’s residence. 
Finally, after dropping off Cyrus’ photo and details at Daftari Clinic, the taxi driver told them that this was Vaikuntlal Mehta Rd, and he would now cruise slowly near Jalsa.  Cyrus quickly told him that they would like to get out. The driver, reluctant to leave them now, decided to wait for them on the New Indian Society Rd. nearby and gave them his cell phone number. There were a few Bhacchan fans loitering around near Jalsa, but Cyrus was not among them. They got out of the cab right near the main gate. A large, bougainvillea plant with hot pink flowers provided a bit of shade from the scorching sun, and Sneha and Fanus headed there. They keenly watched every face in the vicinity. An hour passed but there was no sign of Cyrus. Fanus decided to walk around, and check the side roads, while Sneha waited right there. Fanus came back after an hour with no luck or leads, and they decided to head to the police station.

Juhu Police Station,
Ville Parle West, Mumbai
The swivel chair creaked as Sub Inspector Prashanth Bhambore shifted in his chair, and looked at Fanus and Dr. Sneha suspiciously. He dealt with enough crazy people and he was not going to waste his time on another bunch of these. He observed the twenty year old sitting in front of him – tired, sweaty and talking as if it was a matter of life and death. “Agitated, sweaty…must be a marijuana user,” he thought, dismissing him.  SI Bhambore decided to stop trying to make sense of Fanus’ rambling, and concentrate on the woman. The lady next to him could be his older sister, or maybe his girlfriend . “One never knows these days,” he thought. “Age no bar ki jaamana aa gaya”. The lady looked tired too, but there was an air of elegance about her. “Sir, please, can you listen to us?” she sounded impatient, but her face continued to look calm. She pulled out a visiting card and gave it to him. When he read her name, his demeanor changed. He heard her out, and told her, “Dr. Madam, you have to lodge an FIR”. I will tell my duty officer to help you. He then picked up the photograph, and glanced through the details, not bothering to look at Cyrus’s face. As Sneha and Fanus were escorted to another desk to complete the FIR procedure, the phone on the inspector’s desk rang. As he took the call, his eyes rested on the photo once again. He automatically registered the features, the way his police brain was wired to. Suddenly his eyes widened. When he got off the call, he spent a few minutes re-examining the photo, and then it struck him. He had seen this boy’s photo somewhere else today. He quickly rummaged through the missing people folder, and his eyes rested on the one of Roohi and Cyrus that the Duttas’ friends had dropped off just minutes back!

“Dr.ji¸ek minute,” he called out to Sneha. He held out the picture of Roohi and Cyrus that Jennifer had clicked earlier that day.  When Sneha looked up, she knew the inspector had something important to say. She and Fanus hurried over to him, and stared dumbstruck at the picture of Cyrus eating an icecream. He was apparently with the little girl who was standing next to him, oblivious to everything else as she relished the strawberry ice-cream cone she was eating.

Dr. Phadnis suddenly noticed the date on the photograph. It was clicked today! She clutched Fanus’ hand and told the inspector, “Please, tell us where this was clicked. This is him!”  The inspector had already alerted the police to bring a jeep to the front of the station. “Come with me, we are going in search!” he told Dr. Phadnis and Fanus.

Ramada Hotel
It was already an hour since Jennifer had whatsapped Tara. She had done her part, she told herself. What more could she do? She was not very familiar with the Maximum City, though she had enjoyed every trip here. Yet, her thoughts refused to stray away from the picture of Roohi and Cyrus. “I am tired, I should be resting, or calling up my friends for a night out. Why am I still sitting here with this photo on my laptop?” she asked herself. “Okay, I’ll give myself one last crawl online, in case there is an update,” she decided.  She checks out the online news papers. Nothing there. She logs-in to Facebook. No updates. She tries Google search, but nothing comes up.  She looks at the Bing ‘search by photo’ ad that crops up on Google.  She decides to click on it and is amazed that one could actually submit a photograph, and the in-built face detection software would search the Internet and find a match. “Hi-tech, like the crime branches in movies,” she told herself with a smirk. On a whim, she crops the boy of the photo and uploads it.

In less than a second there were 2000 results!  Jennifer scanned the results, but some of the faces didn’t even closely resemble the boy. “I should have expected this,” she thought, but something prevented her from shutting the program down. She continued to closely examine the photos especially of two very possible matches – but they were of boys in Afghanistan and France! “This one is fair-complexioned, but decidedly Indian,” she thought. Further down the page, a very good match of the boy cropped up. It was associated with a blog ‘moviesRus’ by Cyrus. She clicks on it and finds herself on a movie blog. There was a page dedicated to Amitabh Bhachan. The last blog was posted just 2 days ago! Jennifer scans it quickly and quite enjoys the crisp, tongue-in-cheek review of ‘Finding Fanny’

She explored the other pages, and stared long and hard at the blogger’s picture. It was definitely him! Every feature matched – the unruly hair, the very same spectacle frame, the shape of his mouth, the fair complexion and the beard on his chin!  Jennifer was very excited. “It had to be him,” she decided!
Jennifer took a moment to calm herself down. “This is too much action,” she thought - “So I have a name to the face now – Cyrus Daruwala. She reads his About Me page – ‘I am a law student based in Delhi, but my heart is really in Mumbai, in Bollywood to be specific!’  

Jennifer quickly scans the rest of the page, but doesn’t find out too much more.

“Cyrus Daruwala – a law student - from Delhi – but has his heart in Mumbai….hmmm – is that why he is in Mumbai today? How does he know Roohi?” she wonders. She tries to look him up on Facebook, and even though there seven profiles show up, she finds him pretty quickly! Excitedly she scans his friends list, but sees neither of the Duttas’ names there. She goes back to Google search and tries to see if there is a connection with the Duttas’. None! Wait, what’s this? Almost every search result spoke about the same story.  The blurbs were all similar, so she clicks through one of them.

April 9, 2005 - A newborn baby in Mumbai has been diagnosed with a medical condition called Duodenal Atresia. This is a rare condition, and the incidence is thought to be around 1 in 10,000 births. There are very few known cases in India. In 25-40% of cases, the anomaly is encountered in an infant with trisomy 21 or Down's Syndrome. The little girl has been named Roohi. Roohi’s pediatrician Dr. Aryan Ahuja however has revealed that the initial tests show that Roohi is unlikely to have Down's Syndrome. Meanwhile Roohi’s parents Shekhar and Tara Dutta have decided to let the doctors extensively test her, hoping and praying that she will grow up to be a normal kid.”

There was a picture of the Duttas’ with the newborn with Dr.Aryan Ahuja by their side. “Interesting,” thought Jennifer. “Well obviously, little Roohi does not have Down's Syndrome at all, thank God!”  Jennifer had found out quite a bit. “Not bad, for just a half-hour of sleuthing,” she thinks, but her thoughts are still reluctant to stray away from Roohi – making it quite impossible for her to relax and enjoy the rest of her stay in Mumbai.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My home office {Pictures + future plans}

Working from home has its positives and not-so-positives. My home office is just a little space borrowed from my dining area. Luckily we have an open plan home, so nobody has asked me what a computer is doing so close to the dining table! The main positive is that I am always in the company of my family members, especially when I work! Also, I am so close to the kitchen, that I can go grab a coffee in 1 minute flat.Wait, that's not a plus, is it? I can never decide, because I cannot imagine shifting to a more quiet corner of my home, or working without my coffee!

I was recently contacted by the lovely people from WeWork, a co-working company, and they wanted to see the space I blog from.

My workspace has the usual stuff really - an old-fashioned media table, a message board hung on top, and some necessities like pencil holders, a much-loved picture and a home-designed family calendar, a desktop, telephone line, etc.

I also keep a few knickknacks - a statue of a sweet Arab man with his hookah (a keepsake from my days in Kuwait), a Bethlehem bell, a t-light, and a replica of the London double-decker bus.

I love fabrics and textures. I work barefoot just to have the feel of a warm rug under my feet.  My very ordinary chair is dressed up with cushions.

I love to play around with colors but I like to change things around every few weeks - usually this coincides with the end of a project :) - so I keep changing the runner/ rugs/ cushion covers around my work space. This being the monsoons, I can't find any flowers in the garden downstairs (we live in an apartment). So I make do with tiny ferns and cut-off branches in little glass jars.I detest artificial flowers.

I "store/hide" pencils, scissors, staplers, and glue-sticks in an old coffee tin, and I store my chargers, cables, and gadgets in an old brass box.


 Much as this table/ space suits me, it will change. Not immediately, but when the kids are a bit older, and don't need too much supervision, I will
1. Move my office to the other part of the living room, right next to a large window, hopefully after kicking the caffeine habit! :)
2. Replace the table and chair: I am eying this gorgeous Mango wood Alexander table from Pepperfry. My chair needs to be more ergonomic as well, though I rather like the comfort my cushions currently provide.
3. I will eventually let go of my desktop (I just bought a new one last year, and I love the comfort of desktops, but I know there will be a time when it will just have to go!), and get myself a more compact, leaner, meaner machine.

And right away I plan to add wallpaper plus personalize the magnetic board with some craft paper.

Hope you have beautiful plans for the weekend. See you next week!!

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{Collaborative Fiction} MISSING

Our StoryThis is part five of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'.

Please read Part 4 here 

Mumbai – 19:25

Jennifer banged the table in frustration. Why couldn’t she get through to the Duttas?
She looked around helplessly, running her fingers through her long wavy hair, absentmindedly fingering her tattoo. She scanned Tara Dutta’s Facebook page once again hoping to see some activity from her, but there was none. She was exhausted, having spent the better part of the two hours on this seemingly futile attempt!

Her eyes strayed on a little pink card peeking out of her folder. “Ammachi’s prayer to St. Philomena!” she exclaimed to herself. She got down on her knees and fervently prayed from the leaflet to the saint known for her purity and childlike nature, often believed to intercede in impossible situations. After a moment of silence to draw in strength and courage, she vowed that she wouldn’t still idle hoping the Duttas’ would finally call back. That picture didn’t look good…”What if…” She didn’t dare think about it.

With new-found determination, she Googled Tara Dutta and realized that she worked at Ulka Communications. She quickly dialled the office, and when she told them that it was about Tara’s daughter, she was immediately put in touch with Ritwik, the executive who worked most closely with Tara.

The Dutta residence Mumbai – 19:00
Shekar and Tara’s home  was abuzz with activity. On hearing about Roohi’s disappearance, their friends had come over hoping to help in some way – food, scouring the news, and forming search teams.Shekhar’s techie friends quickly set up a station to monitor the search operation. They would be the point of contact, and anyone with information on the street was to report to to their group immediately. About 20 of them formed small search teams and headed out to scan the various streets, with instructions to relay their locations and updates to the monitoring station at home.

Tara was on the phone, calling up Myra’s home for what seemed like the nth time that day. “Any updates? You are sure she didn’t turn up at the party? Did Myra remember anything in particular? Okay, thanks!”

Roohi’s friends hadn’t noticed anything suspicious, and none of them had seen her after school! Tara tried to stay calm. She looked around for Shekhar and saw that he was busy brainstorming with the guys who were manning the communication station.

Tara’s head ached. It was one thing getting lost in broad daylight, but with darkness approaching, Tara’s heart echoed loud drum beats of fear and desolation. She feared that Roohi would be harmed...thoughts of the big bad men approaching her little daughter made her shake with fear. She went to the window and scanned the streets as if doing so would suddenly reveal the pudgy little form of her daughter. She realized now that her work was meaningless without Roohi to come home to.“If only…,”she thought, guilt wracking her for changing plans and putting work ahead of her daughter. She peeked a glance at Shekhar. His face was grim and worry lines creased his forehead. She went over and squeezed his hand, and he looked at her urgently, thinking she had news of Roohi. 

But one look at her guilt-ridden expression, and he enclosed her in his arms, pulling her tight against him. He tugged her chin gently, forcing her to look up at him. He spoke to her gently, “Tara, snap out of the guilt! I am not blaming you. I should not have asked you to pick Roohi up today knowing how busy you get at that time.I should have rescheduled my online class – I should have checked my messages! But please, let’s not think about what could have been done, let’s find our Roohi. Remember when Roohi first came into our lives? We are going to find her sweetheart, don’t lose hope!”
Tara smiled at him gratefully, and leaned on his shoulder, trying to find the strength that was leaving her and making her sink into despair! Shekhar was always good-natured and smiling, but she never imagined that he could stay so focused, alert and level headed in a catastrophe. “He is the strong one,” she thought, “not I. He was strong to volunteer to stay at home and look after Roohi...sacrifice his dreams...and he lived up to his responsibilities of a dad so well!”

She remembered her own selfish demands, excuses to spend time, even weekends spent in the office... ...the curtness she often showed Shekhar. She realized with a shock that she had even thought less of him for all that he did - how wrong she was! “I will make it up to you both Shekhar, I promise,” she decided fiercely.

Tara’s phone buzzed again. She saw the office number, and almost didn’t pick up. Staring at the phone, she reluctantly answered the call. “Ritwik, oh it’s you! Please tell Senthil that I just can’t manage any work now. What? A photograph? Where? Wait a minute!” Her voice rose audibly, and the others, sensing something was up quickly surrounded her.

“Could you pick the girl up and come over to our home? No, wait! Give me her number first!”  Tara frantically gestured for a pen and pad, and scribbled down a number. She told the others the gist of the conversation and with trembling hands dialed the number Ritwik had given her.


When Tara's phone beeped with Jennifer's whatsapped picture of Roohi, the room suddenly went quiet. They crowded around Tara. While their friends  tried to place the exact location where the picture was taken, Shekhar and Tara’s eyes lay transfixed on the man in the photograph with their Roohi! “Hurry Tara, Shekhar!” their friends yelled, pushing them out of the house. They ran to the car and got in. But Shekhar was in a daze. Their worst fears…who was that boy?

With the car moving at  top speed, Tara could sense the clutch of fear that overcame her husband. She suddenly remembered the times Shekhar had sat down with Roohi and told her about good touch and bad touch. How she, Tara had laughed it off telling him, “Just teach her karate instead...or we will give her a can of pepper spray...”Roohi’s little voice rang in her head...“Is it like your hair spray mummy” “Does it freeze the pepper into behaving? She remembered that Shekhar and she had laughed then at the innuendo their daughter had unwittingly thrown on them...and she remembered how their laughter had delighted little Roohi.

Remembering that day too, Shekhar looked at Tara helplessly. His eyes were wet and he looked afraid. It was Tara’s turn to comfort him – “Don’t worry Shekar, I have faith. You taught Roohi about strangers, and you taught her to handle horrible situations....please don’t lose hope, Shekhar!”

[Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us]
Please read Part 6 here.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

{Recipe} Eggless Chocolate Cake +Coffee Cream filling & Ganache Topping

recipe eggless chocolate cake, coffeecream filling, ganache
Two events last weekend led to this delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, moist and dark-as-sin chocolate cake. One, I got a new oven - bigger than my old one and two,  my neighbor who is leaving for the US decided to give me all her unused caking ingredients.So I decided to bake a cake and share it with her as a part-farewell, part-thankyou gesture.

recipe eggless chocolate cake, coffeecream filling, ganache

Since she is vegetarian, it had to be an eggless cake. Also Shashi (the co-founder of this blog), who is always my 'bakexpert' said, "Your first bake should be sweet as you are inaugurating the new oven'". I agreed, and she recommended Hyderabad-based Poonam Maria's (Zoe's Bakehouse) Eggless Chocolate Cake. I decided to try it, and made a few changes.

The tweaked recipe is shared below.

a bite of moist eggless chocolate cake filled and topped

 {Recipe} Eggless Chocolate Cake +Coffee Cream filling & Ganache Topping

                                        Get the Printable Recipe here

This recipe is for two 8" layers. You will need to divide the batter between two 8" cake pans. If you want to make one big cake without a filling, then go ahead and bake in a big-sized pan. Whatever pan you use, remember that your batter should never fill the pan to the top. Three-fourth full is ideal.

Ingredients - cake:
  1. 3  cups FLOUR
  2. 2 cup sugar minus 2 tbsp SUGAR
  4. 2 teaspoons BAKING SODA
  5. 1 teaspoon SALT
  6. 2 and a 1/2 cups HOT WATER in which you have mixed in 2 sachets (1g) of INSTANT COFFEE
  7. 2/3 cup VEGETABLE OIL
  8. 2 tbsp VINEGAR
  1. Preheat your oven at 170 deg C. 
  2. Line both your 8" pans and grease.
  3. Keep your ingredients measured and ready.
Method - cake:
Cling-wrapping the finished cake
  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Gently mix the wet ingredients together.
  3. Go back to your bowl containing your dry ingredients. Make a small well in the middle of the mix, and pour in the wet ingredients gently in batches. Use a spatula* or a whisk to incorporate the wet ingredients until just combined. *Please do not use an electric beater, as over-beating can spoil this cake.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Once done, let  the cakes cool down completely.
  6. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a few hours.
Ingredients - Coffee cream:
The coffee cream adds a nice contrast to the dark color of chocolate
  1. 3/4 cup WHIPPING CREAM (I used non-dairy)
  2. 1 tbsp SUGAR
  3. 1 g sachet INSTANT COFFEE 
  4. 2 drops RUM ESSENCE
  5. 2 drops VANILLA ESSENCE

Method - coffee cream:
  1. Dissolve the instant coffee in the 2 essences and keep aside
  2. Combine sugar and whipping cream and beat well until you get soft peaks ( I used my regular mixer jar with whip attachment to whip the cream, with excellent results)
  3. Gently fold in the coffee mixture into the whipped cream.
  4. This mixture needs to be used immediately.
  5. Unwrap your cakes, and take one 8" cake. Place it on your cake board and generously slather the coffee cream. Place the second 8" cake on top of it.
  6. Then carefully cover the top and the sides of the sandwiched cake with a thin layer of the remaining coffee cream. Try and make it as smooth as possible.
  7. Keep it in the refrigerator to set a bit (at least 1/2 hour).  When 10 minutes are up, prepare your ganache.
Ingredients - Ganache
  1. 300 g or about 2 and 1/2 cups BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, cut into small pieces
  2. 1 cup WHIPPED CREAM
  3. 2 tbsp BUTTER (pref. unsalted)
  4. 1 tbsp RUM ESSENCE (or the real thing)
Method - Ganache:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl.
  2. Gently bring the cream+butter to a simmer.
  3. The pour over the cut chocolate, and allow to stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Then stir it very gently so as not to incorporate air into the ganache. You however need to make sure that there are no pieces of chocolate left at the bottom. Stir until smooth.
  5. Then add the rum essence and stir again to incorporate. Cool slightly, then keep in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to thicken slightly
  6. Bring out your cake and ganache from the refrigerator.
  7. Concentrating on the middle top of the cake, pour the ganache slowly until it spreads all over the cake and dribbles down the sides. If required, use a knife to smooth it down.
  8. Keep your cake in the refrigerator for another 1/2 hour until the ganache sets. My kids couldn't wait to eat it, so we skipped this last step! The pics will show you an eggless choco cake with ganache that hasn't set! :)
  9. While I am not a big fan of eggless cakes, this one was different. Moist and spongy at the same time, you just couldn't believe it was eggless!
kilncraft, eggless chocolate cake with coffee cream filling, ganache on top

Also featured in this post is beautiful Pakistani crochet work  - I recently acquired meters and meters of this :) ) and part of a gorgeous KilnCraft tea service.
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Who writes this blog?

Hi ! I'm Sharon.

I am so glad you are here visiting. The Keybunch is primarily a decor blog, but it's lovingly peppered with lifestyle and food posts.

I am most inspired by simple spaces that have evolved, or speak of their owner's creativity. I also adore old homes and antiques, possibly because I am from Mangalore, and my decor sensibilities are highly influenced by the colonial style of architecture that I was exposed to, growing up.

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