Wednesday, September 30, 2015

St. Anne Church In Talaulim, Goa



On one of our wanderings and sometimes drives on sundays, we came across this historic, magnificent and massive church called St.Ana church or Saint Anne church or Santana, Talaulim, Goa.

It is set against the backdrop of Santana hill, and in the foreground is the river Curca. From the top of the hill, one can see both the twin towers of the church and the river and the fields on either side. It is a very picturesque setting.

It is not as well kept or well known as the Basilica of Bom Jesus or Ce Cathedral, but it is believed to be the largest surviving monument of its kind in Asia. Constructed in 16th. century with laterite stone, lime and mud plastering, the church is showing signs of ravages of time.
      
Front elevation
Twin towers of 5 floors each soar into the sky, symmetrical on the central axis.
 
       
Side elevation

 
World Heritage Monument 
There is a small declaring the church to be a world heritage monument. It has to be verified.

   
Main doors
The main entrance doors are grand with double columns on either side.

 
Column capitals
The capitals on the columns resemble those of Greek style, but not quite the same and the detailing is not quite so refined. I have not found this style of capitals on other churches in Goa.
 
Exterior window
The above photograph depicts one of the window designs on the exterior walls. They did not have the luxury of glass those days; instead they used sea shells. Sea shells allow light but keep the glare out. They are freely and abundantly available on the beaches in Goa. Also notice the borders around the window shutters!

 
Ceiling over the foyer
 
 
Detail of Ceiling

A high arched ceiling over the entrance foyer is interesting with fascinating patterns, still holding admirably after 400 odd years.

 
Interior view of the church

 
The Altar
Intricate Carvings on the walls in lime and mud plastering adorn the interior walls.
St. Ana Church is close to Goa Velha, and it is a beautiful church. If you are in Goa, it is a must see.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Green is new Black!

Rapid Urbanization is leading to bigger cities; meaning increased density of people and expansion of Concrete jungles.

A tree in a city is a rarity. It was not always like this. I remember while growing up, each house was surrounded by open space and at least a few trees would be in it. Slowly, the house gave way to apartments and trees simply gave way to 'Development'. Cost of land increased so much in the urban areas that no one wants to leave any open areas, leave alone planting or retaining trees.

As a kid, my dream was to see a tree outside the window of my room. If one wants to see a tree in a city now, one has to travel some distance. 

A study at the University of Essex has concluded that just 5 minutes of physical activity in a green environment provides measurable benefits to self-esteem and mental health. The greatest jump in mood and self-confidence in test subjects occurred in the first five minutes, and the effect was even more positive in areas with both greenery and water. Walking, cycling and gardening all offer practical opportunities to put the phenomenon to use in your own life.

A bustling scene in Mumbai

How can we as individuals increase the greenery in our urban surroundings?
 
1. By urging the Municipalities / Government to plant more trees along roads and allocate open areas for parks and have shade giving trees in them.

Tree lined avenue

Urban parks

2.  If there is open space, then planting trees in front yards and / or back yards

Front yard of a residence

3. No front yard? Is there a terrace?
 A roof garden will also do. If not at least a balcony garden will give you that feeling of freshness and rejuvenation!

 Balcony garden

 4. A few potted plants will greatly enhance the mood and aesthetics of living spaces.


 
   It does not cost much, is easy to maintain, and a pleasure to take care of; greenery can be a patch of lawn or a few potted plants or a full grown tree.
Simply by increasing greenery, the cities can be improved, thereby making them healthier for people to live, according to a study by UN.

Why don't we start today?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lime rice (Andhra style)



While visiting a friend's resort, came across this tree with amazing lime (?) on it. He very generously offered me several fruit. They looked like nothing I have seen before. It was dark green in colour, hard to touch. When I cut one open, the juice started running out. It had half a centimeter thick skin, and huge seeds, infact several of them; sour to taste too. Immediately Lime rice came to mind. Prepared it the very next day, and here is the recipe.

Lime rice is tasty, easy to prepare, great for journeys, keeps well till the next day, and does not need accompaniments. You can adjust the sourness by adding more or less lime juice to suit your palate.
Pressure points: Rice should not be cooked, and enough oil should be used.



Ingredients:

Juice of Lemon / lime – 1 (jumbo size) or 1.5 (medium size)
Rice – 250 gms.
Oil – 4 tbs.
Peanuts / ground nuts – 1 tbs.
Curry leaves – small bunch
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp.
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp.
Bengal gram – 2 tsp.
Salt – to taste
Turmeric – ½ tsp.
Red chillies – 2-3 nos.
Asafetida – ¼ tsp.

Method:
Clean, wash and soak rice for half an hour. Cook until soft and firm. Empty into a bowl and let it cool. Heat 1 tbs. oil and pour over the rice. Mix turmeric and salt to the rice well. Pour the lime juice over the rice and mix.
Heat remaining oil in the same pan, and add peanuts, Bengal gram and let it fry for a few minutes, then add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, and when they are all fried, take it off the stove. Sprinkle asafetida over it. Pour this over the rice. Gently mix, making sure rice grains do not break up. Let it rest for a few hours before serving. Best eaten at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Is it clean or what?

Is it clean or what?

'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' .... goes the proverb. We have all heard it.
It could mean that God resides in a clean place, or clean place is divine. 

A neat and clean house, clean kitchen and a clean front yard is a welcoming sight. This we all agree. We also agree that clean surroundings look pretty and even beautiful. Keeping things clean is a huge part of hygiene. 

But look around our streets, neighbourhoods and countryside. It is anything but clean. When we know cleanliness is good for us, why are we not able to maintain our surroundings clean?
 
I had been to Madikeri a few months back. Near the famous Abbey falls, so much trash was strewn around by the tourists even though there was a bin close by! It was an eye sore, and the bad part of it is that all the plastic cups, carry bags and packets are also being burnt there. 

  Trash being burnt next Abbey falls
 
This not an isolated incident; everywhere from outside our Residential buildings, to Roads, open plots, Bus stations, Railway stations, Airports, Parking lots, Nallas, Drains and Countryside, you name it and it is trashed and dirtied!
Travelling on highways or trekking in the hills, the carry bags in white, green, and blue are seen to decorate the bushes and grass. We seem to be redecorating the countryside!

Trash everywhere                       Trash spreading all over the pristine countryside

Everyone who has been to Singapore talks about how clean the cities are; also how they fine anyone littering the streets.
·        Why don't we follow cleanliness like Singaporeans?
·        What is it about us Indians that we do not care for our streets, play grounds, our neighbourhoods and our environment?
·        Why do we feel it is our birthright to dirty everything around us and that someone else must clean up / pick up after us?

May be it is a short walk to the nearest trash can or a garbage bin; take it, it is good for health!