ME AND MY CLOTHES 3 -Memories of a yellow outfit that’s making me feel blue.

I still remember that day long ago and for some inexplicable reason, I clearly remember what I wore. I had paired a long-sleeved turmeric yellow shirt with a bias cut plaid checked skirt in shades of turmeric yellow, charcoal grey and white. The fabric was a polyester-cotton blend. At the suggestion of my aunt and my mom, I had accessorized the outfit with a large yellow fabric flower on the shirt lapel and black kitten heel shoes. I was participating in our annual parish music…


ME AND MY CLOTHES 2 A red and white dress that just made me feel so happy

2020 has almost ended and 2021 is about to begin. Christmas celebrations in 2020 were extremely low key. Restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic meant no social gatherings and events at Christmas or to ring in the New year either. And so the joy (however superfluous and trivial it may appear to some) of buying or making new clothes especially for Christmas for yourself or to gift someone was also cancelled for Xmas 2020. But then, Christmas joy is not…


ME AND MY CLOTHES 1 Memories of my first communion dress

Every person needs clothes. Not just to protect his or her body from the weather but also as a means of self-expression. And just as the foods you eat, the songs you sing or listen to, the stories you read, the movies you see ….evoke memories, so it is with clothes. Just try to remember what you wore when you were younger…. and you will… no doubt about it…find yourself smiling and maybe crying a little at the same time.

My first ever clear memory of a dress that…


A down to earth and not so bright but filled with light Diwali.

It's festival time in India again. India is aglow with light. Diwali commemorates the triumphant return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman to their kingdom after a fourteen-year exile in the forest. The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali meaning “row of lights”. Diwali is a five-day festival, signifying the spiritual victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The lighting of diyas (oil lamps) and decorative lights are a big part of this festival. This year one…


A personal account of growing and cooking pumpkins

“ Its as easy as pie,” is a phrase often used to denote that something is easy to do. The month of October is that time of the year when baking enthusiasts in Europe and America would be baking pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and/or Halloween. But how easy is it really to bake a pumpkin pie, if you don’t have canned pumpkin puree?

Growing up as I did in the local Christian community of Mumbai, India’s largest city, the Halloween Triduum has some significance for us. But October 31st with its spooky…


BANDRA FEAST MEMORIES

Praying, Eating and Loving at Bandra Feast

Eat… Pray… Love. It’s a well-known book by Elizabeth Gilbert….But it’s also a catchphrase that pretty much sums up what people in Bandra-— a suburb in the megacity of Mumbai — do during the month of September. The reason being that the suburb celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with great fervour. At the centre of the devotions is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount. The 8th of September is observed by Catholics all over the world as the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So…


A BIRTHDAY IN A PANDEMIC

Should I have even thought about baking a cake in a time like this?

Some days before my birthday (which was on April fools Day) my husband said matter of factly to me, “I hope you’re baking a cake for your birthday.”
“No, it’s the middle of Lent, ” I replied.
“That’s never stopped you before.”
“We’re in the middle of Lent and in the middle of a lockdown,” I re-iterated.
“Still….it is your birthday…..,” my daughter said.
The two of them run our organic farm and had brought in eggs, milk, vegetables and fruit from our farm for our customers in Mumbai. They know…


My trials and errors at traditional sweet making

Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends. But I’m always pulled in two different directions for this. Should I participate in community choral events, bake cupcakes and cookies and stay the pre-Christmas season in suburban Bandra,(my home)in Mumbai? Or should I experience deep dark cold Indian winter nights at rural Alonda in Vikramgad taluka, which has been my second home for 30 years? This means I cannot participate in the community choral events or attend Christmas concerts as I usually do if I'm in Bandra but will have some time to try my hand at traditional stovetop…


A new old way to grow and eat rice…. and celebrate Halloween

‘ We are what we eat’ is a well known saying. Till as recently as a hundred years ago a person was a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian more for socio-economic and cultural reasons than for health reasons. But in the last 25 years, people living in cities in India are increasingly choosing to eat particular diets specifically for health reasons. So if we are what we eat, then what should we eat? And more importantly, how should we grow what we eat?

In my own community — incongruously called East Indians, though we are original Indian Christian inhabitants of Mumbai…


An endangered local Lenten food tradition

Gontvaal Beans by Francesca Pereira

The last week of Lent is supposed to be a time of intense prayer, penance, and fasting, for Christians. But fasting very often makes us acutely aware of food. Even the most simple and humble food that we may reject in times of feasting, takes on a different appeal while fasting. Gontvaal beans are one such food.

Most Mumbai Christians would have eaten plain boiled gontvaals after Sunday Church services in Lent, and on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Women sit on the roadside, outside churches with baskets full of these boiled beans, which they sell in conical…

Francesca Pereira

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