The "Egg Yolk" Flower

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cats on Tuesday - Curious and Curiouser - August 18, 2015

Recently, I went over to visit my friends, the Toscanos, with whom I have lived on two of my previous visits to India. They have a menagerie of cats and feed and provide a wealth of love to litters of strays and wounded felines around their compound, even having some spayed in hopes of helping control the cat population.

Their resident cats didn't adore me but tolerated me and provided me, always, with a wealth of photographic opportunities.  One, Eddie, was the nosiest cat I've ever met, always investigating all my purchases, peering into boxes and bags.  I was always afraid that, one of these days, his curiosity would get him into trouble!!!

I had been on a shopping spree at Bandra's famous Bazar Road the day I visited so I was armed with an assortment of bags which Eddie resisted for about a second.  

Hey you, I want to see what's inside here!!!

Let's see...the neck rub might do it!

Maybe I should try to attack this striped bag....

Finally making headway...but my left foot is caught..good thing I have 9 lives!

Eddie gave me a scornful look, finally gave up and, worn out from his efforts, stretched, then took a nap.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

I've Got Crabs - July 10, 2015

Recently, a friend invited me to join an overnight outing with a group to Lonavla, a lovely area in Pune district, about 60 miles from Mumbai.  It is both a town and a hill station, especially popular with tourists during monsoon season when the Western Ghats, part of a mountain chain located entirely in India and a UNESCO World Heritage site, are lush and green and waterfalls flow.  

We contented ourselves with eating, drinking, and dancing late into the night, instead of attempting any climbing into the muddy hillsides.  The nonstop noise from traffic marred the idyllic setting and was a constant reminder of encroaching civilization on what Wikipedia terms "one of the world's ten hottest biodiversity hotspots."  

I enjoyed photographing the little hermit crabs ( not sure if that's really what they were ) that popped up everywhere in the mud.  Their antics were certainly amusing.

We stayed in a rustic farmhouse on a large parcel of land owned by a Mumbai builder who was gracious enough to drive us and play host.  We camped out, sharing two beds and the floor and laughed and carried on like teenagers, with music from our generation blaring loudly from the SUV speakers, with only the crabs to hear.

Here I am with Ganesh, who was my knight in shining armour throughout the weekend.  He was at my side constantly, taking my arm, helping me up and down the steps, bringing me drinks and food, showering me with attention.  And, strangely enough, he was a forensic enthusiast, having read every author and book that I had and MORE.  Talk about a small world!  

Lovely people, a lovely place and special memories to add to my Indian experience.

Friday, June 26, 2015

To My Beloved Friends - June 26, 2015

I want to share your happiness, 
And help to ease your pain,
If you are troubled, talk to me,
Until we meet again.

Don't think I'm just a good time friend,
I'm with you all the way.
Whether sunlight greets your morning,
Or storms obliterate the day.

Burdens are too heavy,
When shouldered all alone,
If we cannot see each other,
I am waiting by the phone.

Fate brought us together,
Or destiny Divine,
Our bond will be forever,
Dearest friends of mine.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2015 by Carmen Henesy
All rights reserved. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creative Fashion India - June 18, 2015

One of the joys about returning to India is, of course, visiting old friends.  In Jaipur, that means a visit - or several, to Creative Fashion India.  When I lived in Jaipur for six months, my rickshaw driver, Ikram, brought me here when I was in search of reasonably priced Indian fashions.  I gained more than a few outfits, I made lasting friends in the Jain family that own and operate this small business that manufactures and exports Indian textiles. From the patriarch, Raj Kumar, to his sons, Anuj and Manoj, all are equally helpful in seeing that you choose the perfect outfit for any occasion.  The shop also carries beautiful bed linens, pashmina shawls and other treasures of India.

I don't just come to shop, though.  I delight in the good company and conversation which is never lacking.  Anuj makes it clear that I don't need to buy anything.  Masala chai is served and we have discussions about Hinduism, life in the USA, arranged marriage or whatever is on my mind.  

I missed visiting Jaipur the last two times I was in India so we had a lot of catching up to do.  I would like to live here again.  It is a wonderful city, made more familiar to many because of the film, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

If you are ever in Jaipur, by all means, you must visit here:

Creative Fashion India
1-B Kabir Marg, Banipark
Jaipur, Rajasthan
Telephone:  5110072

With Anuj Jain

With Manoj Jain

With Raj Kumar Jain

Happy with my new outfit

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cafe Mangii, Khar West, Mumbai, Maharastra, India - June 9, 2015

My dear friend, Shiju Sugunan, is always an inspiration to me.  We met via the blogging world and, during my first long stay in India, he was a mentor in so many ways.  When he invited me to visit his home in Bangalore, though we had never met, I was thrilled to go.  Shiju, his wife, Manju, his parents and his son, Nishu, made me most welcome.  His profession is in the IT industry but he is a photography blogger of extraordinary talent.  I am always in awe of his work and you will be, as well, if you check out "Cranium Bolts."

Shiju has become quite impressive with his photographic presentations in the gastronomic realm.  Recently, his pictorial essay of the Summer Festival at Cafe Mangii in Bangalore, was most tantalizing.  Being a foodie myself and, starving as I viewed the post, I immediately called him to convey my approval.  He told me that there was a Cafe Mangii in Khar, only about two kilometers from my Mumbai residence.  Being an advocate of immediate gratification - - after all, I am seventy and I don't know how many exceptional meals remain for me!! ), I picked up the phone and made a reservation for two nights later.

When I arrived at Cafe Mangii at 7PM ( early for Mumbai dining ), I was the only guest in the restaurant.  Fine, since I wanted to take photos, not that I would have been intimidated.  It was a relief to get out of the chaos of rush hour traffic into the cool interior!

Outdoor sign, announcing the "Summer Festival"

Cafe Mangii, Khar, at 7PM on a Thursday night in early June

I perused both the regular menu and the Summer Festival menu, amazed at the huge selection of choices, from fondue to pizzas to several different fish to a selection of pastas and, if decision making weren't already difficult enough, you can opt to have breakfast until 6PM!

Also, the bar selections are many and varied with a wine list reflecting India, France, Spain, and Australia.  There were no wines from the United States.  An excellent selection of liquors was available and there were speciality cocktails on the menu.  I chose a mango margarita from the Summer Festival menu and it was refreshingly cool and slushy with mango...a delectable way to beat the high Mumbai temperatures!

Small bar area that puts out great cocktails

A great use of India's mango crop

Since I was dining alone, I could not order the extensive array of dishes that Shiju Sugunan shared with his wife, Manju.  As a retired nurse, I've tried to become a bit more conservative though there was a time, traveling with a small group of my forensic nurse friends, we could do ample justice to any menu!

To start my culinary adventure, I chose a mango and calamari salad with mixed greens.  The chef kindly accommodated my request that arugula be part of those greens and the salad, was as delicious as I had anticipated.  The spicy pepperiness of the arugula, with the sweet bits of mango, and the flavorful calamari in the vinegary dressing were perfection.  I could have eaten two.

My next dish was consumed in a flash, in spite of the fact that it was so beautiful.  Light as a feather, thin, fried zucchini slices were arranged on lebneh to resemble a flower.  It tasted just as good as it looked.

Instead of a main course ( I was already more than full! ), I chose another appetizer, the "Pina Colada" Chicken, skewered white meat chicken fried with a batter and dipped in coconut, served with a pineapple coconut sauce.  I, personally, would have enjoyed this more had it not been skewered and if it were dark meat.  That's just my preference.

As I was eating and, busily, taking photographs, a gentleman approached me and asked how I was enjoying my meal.  He said he was Clinton Dcosta, General Manager, for all the Cafe Mangii Cafes in the entire system.  I told him about my friend, Shiju Sugunan's blog, Cranium Bolts, and pulled it up on my phone so he could see it, explaining that is what enticed me to, immediately, try out the Khar "Summer Festival" menu.  He asked me if I would like to meet Chef Ganesh, responsible, from the beginning, for overseeing food preparation and participating in setting up menus for Cafe 
Mangii.  Meeting Mr. Dcosta and being able to sample the creative efforts of this master chef made my evening a special delight.

It was a special treat to meet Mr. Dcosta as he travels among all the Cafe Mangii restaurants.  I was fortunate that he was in Khar that night.

I enjoyed speaking to Chef Ganesh.  I have a great fondness for those who feed me!

Of course, I could not leave without dessert and a second cocktail.  Though there were several desserts that interested me - a lovely mango and cream and a huge chocolate brownie. However,I can never resist creme brulee.  The menu said this one had ginger in it and I was intrigued by that.  It was beautifully presented but I tasted no ginger.  It was delicious, nonetheless.

From the Cafe Mangii list of specialty cocktails, I chose the St. Tropez smash, a wonderful vodka concoction that had a splash of passion fruit syrup and watermelon juice.  It was served with paper thin slices of watermelon.  So lovely and very tasty.

Cafe Mangii was a delightful dining experience.  I look forward to my next visit and to sampling more of the menu. The only problem I foresee is I that, if some of the Summer Festival offerings are still available, I will want them again!  I am anxious to attend future festivals, as well.

  1. Cafe Mangii
  2. Address: Mangal Bhawan, 14th Road, Off Linking Road, 
  3. Near Domino's PIzza,, Khar West,, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052
  4. Phone:022 2649 8100

To view Shiju Sugunan's beautiful pictorial essay of the Cafe Mangii in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, go to:

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

India, At Last - June 2, 2015

I left Sacramento May 6th.  After a most arduous journey, with connections in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Paris, France, I finally reached Mumbai over twenty-four hours later.  I was overjoyed to see the driver from my favorite hotel, the Ibis Mumbai Airport, waiting, with the sign bearing my name.  It wasn't long before I was snoozing happily on their wonderful "sweet bed."  I had expected to stay only one night there but my search for a "paying guest" room proved futile.  After four days of frustrating visits to seven different broker offerings, I moved to a less expensive hotel near Bandra where I hoped to live for the next five months.  

Two of the places I was taken were in such a seedy area ( a run down building with men sitting in chairs outside, not a woman in sight ), I wouldn't even get out of my rickshaw.  At long last, high on a hill near where I had previously lived, just past Mt. Mary Church, with a view of the Arabian Sea in the distance, I found an accommodation.

It was more than anticipated budget ( nearly $500 US, did not include meals and my room was not air conditioned ).  The home was lovely, however, owned by a widow near my age, with a PhD in history ( not my favorite subject in school ) but I was desperate for a "home" and I handed over nearly $1500 - first month's rent, the deposit and the broker's fee.  Almost immediately, with people dying in south India from the sweltering heat wave, I went out and bought a pedestal fan to supplement the SLOWLY revolving ceiling fan in my bedroom.  If both fans are going and I don't move at all, I am not bathed in sweat. Though my landlady does have WiFi, she was reluctant to have me share it for fear her bill would increase so I went to Vodafone ( akin to Verizon and I dislike them equally as much ) to purchase a MiFi apparatus and sign up for a horrific data plan.  Now, I am paying for half of the household WiFi and a reduced MiFi since my landlady turns off the WiFi when she is out and about which is often. It is a little disheartening since I haven't had such issues before.  With the intense heat, I haven't been very hungry so I stay home, read ( good I downloaded so many Audible and Kindle books ) and am waiting for the rain when I hope to go sloshing about a little more.  

Cheers from the Salt Water Cafe in Bandra West where I celebrated my finding a room!

From my bedroom window. I can see the Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge, which spans part of the Arabian Sea, and brilliant hot pink bougainvilla, glorious - if you don't get stabbed by its thorns.  I've been feasting on mangoes - in season now in India ( especially enjoying the mango mojitos at the Ibis Mumbai airport ) and lychees ( India ranks second to China in production of this wonderful fruit which is for sale on most street corners ).

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge


I do miss Harper.  She would not give me a "beso" ( kiss ) the night before I left.  I told her I would be leaving before she woke up. "No, Nana!"  She was most emphatic.  I begged, explaining I would be gone to India for five months.  I have talked to her twice and she even held the phone so I could talk to Taffy.  I sent her these pictures of cows in the streets.  Laura takes her bike riding to the the "vacas and caballos" along the River Road in Sacramento but I tried to tell Harper that here the cows are sacred and they can walk wherever they want.

I came in one afternoon to find my landlady's friend here, doing an "in home" haircut.  When she finished, she asked if I'd like to have my hair braided.  Well, why not??  I thought she did a lovely job.  Too bad I didn't have a pretty sari, a place to go and a handsome man at my side to show off the pretty hairdo.  Oh, well, maybe one of these days.

In closing, after nearly a month of NOT blogging, I do plan to be a bit better about staying in touch from now on.  I came across this little Pintarest pin which suits me to a "T" so I am sharing it with you.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Look Up, Look Down Challenge, Week 84 - San Francisco - April 9, 2015

With more than fifty hills within the city limits, San Francisco is definitely a "look up, look down" place.  I fell in love with her, with a layover of six hours, en route to Hawaii when I was only eighteen-years-old.  I knew, someday, I would make the Bay area my home and I moved here just after New Year's Day forty years ago.  I am just as in love with this city where cable cars climb "halfway to the stars" as I was
when I was eighteen.  

While I am a Tony Bennett fan and even got to hear him sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the San Francisco Opera House several years ago, my favorite song about the city is "On a San Francisco High," penned by Jerry Holland and performed by his beautiful wife, Sony Holland.  It is on my phone, tablet and computer and I play it everywhere I travel when I'm feeling a little lonely for this city which has been my home now for over half my life.

Here are a few "look up, look down" photos taken recently.

Looking down at Alcatraz and at the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts,
built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition

An affluent neighborhood built on San Francisco hills

Imagine carrying groceries up all these steps!!!

San Francisco encompasses a land area of only about 46.9 square miles.

The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline.

Looking down toward North Beach landmark, Saints Peter and Paul Church,
and up at Coit Tower

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Friday, April 03, 2015

Rest in Peace, Mom

My mother, Mary Frances McGee Quinlan, died early in the morning of April 1, 2014.  She had been a resident at the Gwinnett Extended Care Facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia for several years, thanks to the quick thinking of my sister-in-law, Susan Henesy, who had worked in same day surgery at Gwinnett Medical Center.

As far as that type of facility goes, there are few better.  Her care was excellent - though she was relatively unaware of her surroundings - and she could be quite a handful, to say the least.  

My mother was one of thirteen children, born of Mississippi sharecropper parents, and she labored picking cotton as the whole family did.  She was very intelligent, though, and managed to graduate near the top of her class at Pelahatchie
( MI ) High School and headed off to nursing school in Columbus, Georgia where I was born.  

Frugal, somewhat stern, and, a single mother, she rarely handed out praise but she worked tirelessly to see that we were educated well.  I took after her in some ways but, in many, I was totally the opposite. We knew she loved us but she rarely said it.  For most of my adult life, I have lived on the opposite side of the country from her.  She always came to San Francisco to visit for a few weeks each summer to see me and her grandsons and to escape the soaring Georgia temperatures. 

Besides being a nurse, she was an avid reader ( especially of poetry ) and she did praise my poetic efforts.  Sadly, by the time my poetry book was published, with its dedication to her, her mind was incapable of comprehension.

They say that "things happen for a reason."  When my 21 year nursing position ended in February 2009, I fought desperately to overturn the budget cuts but, when it was clear that my Public Health position was doomed, I began going to Georgia to stay with my mother for visits of one month at a time.

Those were special times for me.  She lived alone in a duplex for 18 years and, though her eyesight was failing because of macular degeneration, she was able to get around her apartment, prepare meals in her microwave, and she was adamant that she would not move.  A lady came in weekly to buy groceries and clean and do laundry and she still read with magnifiers.  She stubbornly refused books on tape, insisting, "I like the feel of a book in my hand."  She refused my offer to help her with a computer which I felt would open up new worlds for her.

Coming home was made even nicer for me because of my lifelong friends, Beth and Luther Stanton.  After my mom was ready for bed at night, I would join them for dinner and it was as though we were back in high school, reminiscing, laughing, the bonds of friendship holding us close.  They were always an incredible help to me with my mother and I can never thank them enough.

The evening I arrived for my final visit with my mother in Columbus, I was startled to find her front door unlocked.  She was sitting in her recliner, staring into space, babbling gibberish, and she did not recognize me.  When I took her to her doctor in the morning, he admitted her to the hospital:  atrial fibrillation and a stroke.  Within a few days, she had recovered enough to be discharged to the Atlanta area facility.  My brother came and transported her, my sons flew in from California and, with Luther's help, we cleared out Mom's apartment and her life in Columbus was over.  

Last year, when I was home from India in January, I flew to the South to see my dearest friends and, while in Atlanta, Camilla Arthur, who had been a friend since our boarding school days at 13, took me to see my mother for a final visit.  
Her caregiver that morning ( a lovely Indian lady ) had her up in a wheelchair and my mom said, "I recognize that voice," when I walked in the room.  She then grasped my hand and said, "I love you," something I seldom remember her saying to me.  It was a cherished moment.

There was no memorial service ( except in our hearts ) as my mother had predetermined many years prior, just as she had donated her body to Emory University more than a quarter of a century before.  As one of her suitors told me, "Mary is a tough old broad."

I just hope, wherever she is spending the hereafter, she's in a good frame of mind, has a lot of her favorite books to read, and a heaping plate of catfish, cheese grits and hushpuppies every day for lunch.