Orange Furniture Polish
Put orange peel in a 1 litre bottle. The bottle should be 60% peel, 30% water and 10% empty. Don’t put the lid too lightly so that gas can escape.
Tip. Cut the peels as fine as possible so that they disintegrate faster.
Keep in a cool dry place for around three months till the orange peels dissolve completely. The concentrate is now ready to use.
Take a 500ml spray bottle. Fill it with 100ml orange concentrate, 100ml linseed oil ( I use Cat brand double boiled linseed oil available in most paint shops), 20ml neem oil, 100ml water, 100 ml white vinegar. Shake well before use.
Clean the wooden surface with a damp cloth. Spray the shaken liquid and rub till it dries off. You will get a nice fruity smell, shiny furniture with termite protection. Use once a week or month depending upon the surface wear and tear.
One bleak morning, the Narmada is quiet, dormant, and sleepy. As the rays of gold softly touch the gentle waves, the river wakes up from its deep slumber. Humans appear from nowhere immersing themselves into the cold water hoping for emancipation. Dogs and vagrants roam about looking for crumbs. As the sun rises above in the horizon, cheeky women with devilish grins manifest themselves, selling fake silver coins and ornaments. Tourists and pilgrims walk upon the magnificent ghat on the steps that descend into the river gently, interspersed by pauses- long and short. Built by a strong yet gentle, pious Queen the crumbling fort walls whisper of a bygone era filled with respect and valour.
White washed walls of the town rub their eyes trying to get shade from lush gigantic trees and Arjun flowers. The weavers here spin gold out of cotton, soft and luminous.
Do have tea at Labooz.
Women come and go, talking of Michelangelo
As the sun begins to set, boatmen spring forth taking you down the merry river. The fort walls light up as the city begins to retire.
Some villagers made this tower for birds to live in on the edge of a natural lake. There is a temple, a bael tree, many birds and humans seeking blessings from Lord Shiva.
The multi-coloured tower is five feet wide octagon thirty six feet high.
The lake houses egrets and turtles, not counting innumerable frogs, fishes and few tortoises. Herons and kingfishers hang out in the bushes and trees always on a look out for sweet water fish.
In summers the lake is dry, the green babul bushes also turn brown, and it is yet a haven for blue bulls to play around.
In the monsoon, the earth turns magically green, the lake gets over whelmed by baby frogs and buffaloes bathing.
Winter time is for the migratory birds to stay in the warmth away from frozen lands they come from.
All year round, villagers feed the birds with grain, the bael tree yields fruit for the monkeys, the bael1 leaves are used for worship in the temple.
Heaven on Earth looks like this!
1Bael- Stone apple.
Written by Poonam Jolly 21.10.23
Illustration. Poonam Jolly, Makhduma Merchant, Archi Rojivadia
Nr. Mahadev Temple, Shilaj
Like a spirit I moved on the stone hill covered with trees that reached the skies. Their knotted trunks were witness of ten thousand year old histories, when young pupils lived in the caves desirous of learning from Bodhisattva, having left their families and never looked back.
Sculptors would carve out thick pillars from the stone rocks and make them habitable. The masters sculpted Lord Buddha.
A river flowing past offered bathing space where the pupils cleansed themselves.
The large rocks offered great spaces for meditation, the skies bending towards the trees to absorb the silence of the place. Some clouds decided to stay here till the scorching sun dissolved them into thin air.
In the monsoon, torrential rains fell on the hard rocks and flowed mysteriously into the stream that emptied itself in a large lake surrounded by Jamun trees and monkeys chittering in the grove.
Buddhist students from Far East would come here to learn from the Bodhisattva and consider themselves blessed.
On a one day business visit to Mumbai, I decided to visit the Kanheri caves in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in North Mumbai. It was a cold winter day and I reached there by taxi from the airport in 20 minutes.
Now a part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park of Mumbai’s Borivali locality, the Kanheri Caves were once inhabited by the monks as a refuge from the rains and harsh weather.
The word ‘Kanheri’ has been derived from the Hindi word Krishnagiri or Kanha-Giri, which means Krishna’s home (Krishna implies the dark one). Therefore, these caves have been named so because they have been formed of black basalt rock.
According to the archaeologists and historians, during their formative phase, they must have served as a temporary residence or ‘vasha vaasa’ (rain shelter) for the monks. The monks lived in these caves to live, study and meditate, and as a policy no woman was allowed to live in Kanheri Caves in the earlier stages and even as more and more time lapsed.
Over a period of time, the Kanheri Caves emerged as a centre of learning just like the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
The caves were abandoned in the 11th century AD, and afterwards, they were re-discovered by a group of Japanese monks. It is from here an important school of Buddhism, popular in Japan, emanated.
Inside the caves, there is a large Vihara (prayer hall) and stupas, Buddhist shrines featuring Buddhist paintings and carvings on them. There are more than 30 unfinished paintings of Buddha. The Kanheri Caves have a complex system of water harvesting, which leaves the discerning visitor awestruck.
There is an elephant in my room. The elephant fills the room and extends outwards into the landscape luring a visitor towards the interiors. A visitor gets ingested in the space that expands and contracts.
In the tight geometry of right angles, the curved wall acts a barrier and bridge at the same time, although the most massive element, it nullifies its existence by not touching the slab. The house extends itself literally and metaphorically to the landscape outside. The very few concrete walls take the load of the slab. The tapering roof thins down as it goes from more to less support below it. Hence the name “UNequilibium house” as the roof is lopsided yet balanced.
Our keywords are sustainability, using bespoke methodology and crafts, use as little energy as possible and make with hands as much as possible. We believe in fusing architecture and nature such that the boundaries between the two are blurred. It should be difficult to tell what is inside and what is outside, thus making architecture and our habitat a wonderful place to be in, where nature play magic continuously throughout the year and becomes a source of eternal joy.