Divining fortune from tea leaves has been around for almost as long as there has been tea, over five thousand years. Tea-Leaf reading which is also known as Tasseomancy like any other divination art has multiple origin histories. Tea-leaf reading tells fortunes using the symbols and the patterns formed by the residue of tea left in the cup. More of an art rather than a science, there are no universal guidelines that dictate what the patterns mean. Tea-Leaf reading is mostly done as a daily reading about life, love, work and money issues, though a longer timeframe may be determined as well.
Is it always necessary to use words to communicate? Theoretically, there’s verbal communication and its non-verbal counterpart of body language, gestures, and the like. What if the communication is to pass over valleys and hills – spontaneously? Then, a whistled language – with its origin in bird calls – is the answer. Ask the “bird whistlers”.
In a remote mountain village high above Turkey’s Black Sea coast, there are villagers who still communicate across valleys by whistling. Not just whistling as in a non-verbal, “Hey, you!” But actually using what they call their “bird language,” Turkish words expressed as a series of piercing whistles.
The village is Kuskoy, and it’s inhabited by farmers who raise tea, corn, beets and other crops, and also keep livestock. The landscape is unusual by Turkish standards, and the residents are also considered a bit eccentric by other Turks.
A game played avidly by amateurs and pros alike. In jails and by the British Royal Family, and has fans even at The White House. No other game brings wordsmiths together like Scrabble. And to think it may not have seen the light of living rooms.
Though words are its currency, it’s really a game about anything but. It’s a spatial game, a game of patterns and of memory. No wonder many top players have a mathematical rather than a linguistic background. You certainly don’t need to know what an obscure two-letter filler like ‘ee’ or ‘da’ means in order to play it, only that it appears on the endorsed word lists.
No matter how different our ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, views and values are, we can all sit around a dinner table and unite in sharing a meal that includes different tastes and types of food from all over the globe – the palate knows no boundaries and no limitations. In a divided country like Nicaragua, all differences melt when it comes to vigoron. The national dish that cuts across political ideologies, economic status, and strong preferences.
Java is one of the main islands in the archipelago nation of Indonesia, home to the country’s capital, Jakarta, and almost 60% of its population. The powerful Hindu kingdom of Majapahit flourished here from about the 13th to the 15th centuries, leaving its impact on culture, language and landscape. Temples in honour of Vishnu and Shiva are scattered through the islands, words from Sanskrit make appearances in the language, and names from the Mahabharata and Ramayana dot establishments and shops across cities. Still, in modern-day Indonesia, Hindus account for less than 2% of the population.
If French cheeses are best served preceding or culminating a meal, Italian cheeses are often woven into the fabric of dinner (or breakfast, or lunch). And when you look to Italy, look beyond the likes of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mozarella di Bufala and Gorgonzola.Then you are bound to hear of Grana Padano. Pessina Cremonese in northern Italy is known for its hard Grana Padano cheese. But unlike other cheeses that might be made by the locals of the area, this cheese at least depends on an unusual community of immigrants: Sikhs. Nothing like food to bring communities together.
Having spent the weekend maneuvering through tea plantations in Munnar, the drive brought back memories of conversations over tea here. There was the post on the complete tea experience – from planting a seed to hand plucking the tender green “silver tips” of the tea, to hand roasting and finally enjoying the “fruits” of one’s labor in distant Thailand. The one on the history of tea, too. And here is the account of how America popularized iced tea (we are betting on it being one of your go-to drinks), courtesy NPR’s The Salt:
You’d be forgiven for not knowing this, but Wednesday was National Iced Tea Day. And while it’s only an unofficial food holiday, it makes sense that Americans would set aside a day to celebrate this favorite summertime sip: We popularized it. Tea itself, of course, has been consumed in America since Colonial times. (Remember the Boston Tea Party?) But before you could drink iced tea, you needed ice — and that was a rare summer luxury until the early 1800s. New Englanders could cut large chunks of ice from frozen ponds and lakes in winter, then insulate it with sawdust so that it could last into the warmer months. But in the hot South, snow and ice didn’t exactly abound.
Their stay with us by the Mararikulam beach went beyond the comforts of their villas. There was definitely a stop by the kitchen because don’t we all travel the world plate by plate? Only that the plates and cutlery were on a little holiday of their own this time. A plantain (banana) leaf met the couple at the table and, well, they had to put their best hands forward. It was the call of the Sadya.
If all of Kerala is to have a favorite color this season, it’d be yellow with touches of gold. For this is the time of Vishu, a festival of prosperity and gratitude. Embraced by all Malayalis and celebrated by other Indian states by the names of Ugadi or Baisakhi, the festival marks the beginning of the zodiac calendar and is determined by the position of the sun. It falls during the sowing season, with Onam being the state’s harvest extravaganza.
Nature begins celebrating first. Come summer and yellow flowers dot the green canopy. The flowering is related to the heat and the blooms first appear close to two months before the onset of monsoon. Known as konnapoo (Indian laburnum), they are the postcard of the festival. Earlier, the flowers bloomed in backyard gardens and plucking these made for conversations and laughter over fences of houses. With accelerating urbanization, the flowers are now picked off shelves at markets that come up a few days prior to the festival. Between growing the plant in one’s own garden and buying it off vendors, one thing has held its ground: the warmth a handful of tiny yellow flowers spread. Continue reading
In Kerala during temple festivals, elephants are decorated with gold caparisons (Nettippattom), bells and necklaces. People mounted on the elephants hold ornamental umbrellas (Muttukuda) up high, swaying white tufts (Venchamaram) and peacock feathers fans (Alavattam). Continue reading
The first day of the Onam celebrations starts on Atham day during the Malayalam month of Chingam, which this year falls today, 7th September 2013. The date is ten days before Thiruvonam. The creation of Athapookalam is an important part of every Onam festival. This special, circular arrangement of flowers is one of the most iconic Onam traditions. Continue reading
Tulsi Thara is a sacred stone platform in front of traditional Kerala houses on which the Holy Basil (tulsi) plant is grown. Tulsi is a sacred herb known as the Queen of the herbs. Tulsi Thara is made to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. In mornings and evenings a burning lamp is placed on the platform. Continue reading
Thalappoli is a traditional and ritual procession carried out by young girls and ladies of Kerala to attract happiness and prosperity in the community which holds the festival. The participants wear traditional dress and hold thalam (a metal plate) in their hands filled with fresh paddy, flowers, rice, coconut and a lighted lamp. Continue reading
In most of the South Indian states villages are still using the bullock cart for transporting goods and people, mostly in farms and plantations. The oxen are fitted with horseshoes in order to protect their hooves from heat and uneven roads. Continue reading
Vidyarambham means the beginning of education, or being initiated into the world of learning. As the auspicious day of Mahanavami approaches, devotees get ready to pray to Sarasvati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Education. On the eve of Mahanavami books and equipment associated with one’s vocation are placed before the Goddess to invoke her help in surmounting obstacles in the path of learning. The ritual of Vidyarambham is performed on the following day, Vijayadashami, which is the last day of the 9-day Navaratri festival. On the Vijayadashmi day from early morning hundreds of children between the ages of three and five are initiated into the world of education in various temples across the state. Continue reading
The Nilavilakku is an integral part of the rituals and ceremonies in most Kerala homes. Lighting the Nilavilakku on certain occasions is considered auspicious, especially within the Hindu community and at places of worship. As dusk sets in, young girls in Hindu families bring the lighted lamps to the verandah of the house. In the flickering light of the nilavilakku children and family elders gather to chant hymns and evening prayers. Continue reading
Kasavu Mundu and Kasavu Neryathu are traditional handloom cotton fabrics with Kasavu (golden brocade) used for saris and as dress material by the Malayalee people. Woman elegantly wear the mundu (sarong type skirt) and neryathu (draped shoulder cloth) over a traditional sari blouse. Kerala men wear the mundu around the waist and the neryathu around the shoulders. Continue reading
The Thookkuvilakku or traditional brass lamp, is an integral part of all rituals and ceremonies in Kerala and lighting the lamp on any occasions is believed to be auspicious. Bronze, popularly known as Odu in Kerala, is used for making all types of brass lamps. Continue reading