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Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

Spelt, Chia, Almond and Chocolate

I wanted to try a new recipe for muffins from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen  by Amy Chaplin.  I had spelt flour, eggs, and butter, but all I needed, it turned out, was the spelt.  So into a bowl went chia seeds (had that) with almond milk (expired) so I substituted milk.  While that thickened, I mixed the flour and corn meal (not opting to grind my own, because, you know, I already messed up with the almond milk) with almond flour and baking powder.  Did not have a juicy orange which the recipe called for but I had…carrot juice/lemon/ginger/tumeric juice in a bottle, so used that.  Did not have blackberries, so I used raisons.  Added maple syrup, but had to top it off with agave, and instead of coconut oil (rancid?) I used olive.  Hmm.  The muffins seemed lacking, so I added chocolate chips, nixed the muffin tray, and dumped it all into a loaf pan.  The batter tasted bitter, but it’s baking now. Maybe it needed butter.  Better batter, etc.

It tastes crunchy ( chia) and a tad dry ( lack of oj?). Not bad, but needs, um, almond mik, coconut oil, and blackberries. Lacking blackberries, a link to Galway Kinnell’s poem. 



What to eat while waiting



“I Gazed–and I Gazed–“

Indira Ganesan, Yellow Bouquet, 2017


A hand-written manuscript of William Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ also known as ‘Daffodils’ (1802).  © The British Library Board 065858. BL Add. MS 47864


“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


From the William Wordsworth Trust:

One of Dorothy [sister to William] Wordsworth’s  most famous journal entries is the one she made for Thursday 15 April 1802.

‘The wind was furious… the Lake was rough… When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up — But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway… — Rain came on, we were wet.’


Woman in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Gustave Klimt, 1907 (Galerie Neue New York)


I have had the most remarkable experience of seeing a museum exhibition of an artist’s work, and a few months later, seeing a film on the very paintings I saw. Last night I saw The Woman in Gold, a film starring Helen Mirren, which was the reason I saw it at all, which turned out to be about the real-life story of how Maria Altman, a woman who fled from Nazi Vienna to California was able to recover several Gustave Klimt paintings belonging to her family and stolen by the Nazi regime, then conveniently acquired by a Dutch Gallery. One of the paintings is the gorgeous gold-leafed portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, and one of two portraits he did of her; Adele is maria’s aunt.  The movie is informative, a bit too quickly and easily paced, with an unnecessary Hollywood made-up escape sequence, but it is sumptuous in its depiction of the elegance of Vienna on the verge of take-over.

My sister-in-law took me to the Neue Galerie in New York this past December.  We started with a delicious lunch at Cafe Sabarsky, named after the co-owner of the gallery, then made our way to see the Austrian Masterworks exhibition upstairs.  There were the Klimt portraits, far more breath-taking in life than the many reproductions one sees of “The Kiss” and so on, as well as a stunning woman who surprisingly wandered the gallery dressed like Adele Bloch-Bauer in a pale gold evening dress.  Was she a visitor dressed in homage for the occasion, or was she a gallery employee?

The other owner of the gallery is Ronald Lauder, son of Estee, who made an appearance in the fim, offering to help win back Maria Altman’s inheritance (“I love your mother’s lipstick says Maria in the film, pointing out the shade she is wearing. It is a charming moment, and Mirren acts it well, flirtatious and calculating, even as her character Maria says no to Lauder’s offer of an expensive lawyer.)

There are three documentaries on Adele and Maria’s fight, as well as a book she wrote.

On an NPR Morning Edition report of the painting’s muse, Susan Stamberg quotes Janice Staggs, curator at the Neue, who says of Adele:”She suffered poor health all her life…

“And she experienced great tragedies as well — two miscarriages and a son who died just a few days after he was born. She was 22 when Klimt began this portrait, and those losses show in her eyes.

“She can perceive for herself what the rest of her life will hold. The opportunities she had dreamed of as a young girl were going to be denied,” says Staggs.

The painting of nine-year-old below by Klimt is of Mada Primavesi , not Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it shows what the hope of facing a world squarely and expecting nothing less might look like.


Gustave Klimt, Mada Primavesi, 1912-13

Klimt, Portait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912

Gopal Mama



Indira Ganesan, Gopal Mama in New Jersey, December 2016

On Tuesday, February 14, my dear Uncle Gopal passed away.  My uncle was was SVR, Srirangam Venkatachary Rajagopal, a corporate leader, the darling in my mother’s family, known to all as the very jolly, deeply generous man who got things done efficiently, thoroughly, and with panache.  He was my Gopalmama, who had known me all my life since birth, the one relative I saw more of than anyone in all my years in America.  He was the one who snuck a photograph of a film actress from the screen, the one who gave me my first camera and though it was meant for my brother, my first set of toy cars, the one who traveled to Japan, the one who married my beautiful aunt, who fathered my two wonderful cousins, who quit smoking because my mother finally stepped in and sent a newspaper clipping that my aunt still has, who befriended my father, and adored us all.

He was beloved. When he was young, my uncle, and for one year, my mother,  went to the Annie Besant Arundale School at Kalakshetra, a visionary school in which the arts were incorporated into the curriculum. There are so many stories about my uncle, about his cheek and bravado, his bravery and generosity. He regularly funded my mother when as a child she made a habbit of treating all her friends at the Basant School canteen; he brought us home singing in the middle of the night after a movie.

When I did a year of studies at Stella Maris College, studying Fine Arts,  in Madras, my mother and I lived in his home for a year.  My grandmother lived there, too, and the house on Venus Colony was a sanctuary.  He found a guitar teacher for me, and later, since I was studying calligraphy at the college, gave me a tiny box filled with his own ink nibs from his engineering design days.  I was thrilled, and I still treasure them.

I don’t know how to write about my uncle except to say I loved him. He is more than these sentences. My heart goes out to Jayamami, Subashree, and Shreyas, and their families.  My heart goes out to my mother who has lost her brother so soon after my father’s passing.  She is the one who remains, the youngest of four devoted siblings. Too many deaths.  It is the way of the world, to live and leave it, but it does not make any of it easier.  To my Gopalmama, who taught us laughter and fortitude, and the enjoyment of life.

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