Guest Blog Post: Wildlife then. by equinoxio21

Magic, fiction, and art: journalist/novelist/blogger equinoxio21 weaves them together with compassion and wisdom to create his fascinating equinoxio21 site.

equinoxio21 as a toddler
“Shah taught me Urdu, and proper table manners, the latter with great difficulty I might add.” equinoxio21

From the start, he‘s led exciting life! In a short reply to a reader, he described himself: “I am a cultural “mongrel”. Born in Pakistan, raised in Africa. It helps to add tiny details, the “couleur locale”. Reality, to me, is what adds weight to fiction.

Here he combines his historical photos (and here’s some of beautiful original art he posts as well) with those from antique books…



Wildlife is under a death sentence everywhere. Those giraffes (and ostrich, look closely) I saw in Kenya in 1969, fifty years ago (!) are being snared by poachers. What for? For giraffe hair bracelets? To turn their skin into a carpet? Pointless. As a teen, I was fortunate enough to see the last of the wild. Isolated pockets still remain with Game wardens practically turned into a military force. But who knows how long they will last?


This is how giraffes were seen in 1879. (In Mammifères, Louis Viguier). 140 years ago. This is yet another of my books falling apart. Major restoration in the works. The engravings are priceless. Many would tear the book apart and sell each engraving for 20 Euros on the banks of the Seine.


Warthog, 1879.


1969, Nairobi National park.

IMG_7011“In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”

kdd10-14“The lion sleeps…

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Guest Blog Post: Amna’s 2018 Reading List

Rabbit costumed person sitting on a bench, reading newspaper
Every bunny should read. Photo: Ryan McGuire of

What’s on your reading list this summer? I make lists about most everything — except for books — books seem to seek me out! Amna, however, has quite an inspiring list!…

Guest Blog Post: “Coconut Cardamom Tea Cake,” in Nithya’s exact words

Coconut cardamon tea cake by Devine Spice

Coconut + Cardamom + Tea + Cake = Mouthwatering Event! Food blogger Nithya tells us how…


Isnt that romantic sitting by the window having a nice cuppa and enjoying the nature’s beautiful autumn colors on a chilly day😍 ? It will be a perfect indulgent treat when you are offered a delicious snack to accompany your tea. Yeah😎, I am gonna tell you about my secret recipe(cardamom coconut cake) that I ve tried for the first time ever and you know what, it turned out so delicious exactly how I imagined. If you are a fan of coconut and the aroma of cardamom, you must give this a go😊. I am sure that wont let you down. So here you go! Enjoy!


Serves 5 to 7


  • 150g self raising flour
  • 75g or 100g sugar ( according to Your taste )
  • 7 to 8tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk

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Guest Blog Post: “My Mum, the Pilot,” in Hey Loons exact words

I love true stories about courageous women, don’t you? Enjoy this thanks to fellow blogger Hey Loons …

Hey Loons

Once upon a time, a little girl was told that women shouldn’t fly airplanes …

I grew up knowing ‘mum flew planes’. This was one of a series of simple facts in my childhood: my sister and I were born in London; our parents came from India; dad sang; mum flew.

She told us stories about her teenage flying days ‘looping the loop’ above the clouds and performing steep dives towards the ground. She’d show us her album filled with old sepia photos of her standing proudly next to a small airplane.

The logbook pages had rows of handwritten entries of all her flights, each a flying adventure and she spoke about them with excitement and emotion, tinged with a hint of longing to be up amongst the clouds again.

Our mum, Dhira Chaliha, got her flying wings in 1961, at the age of 21, in India and to us as…

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Guest Post: “My Libraries in India,” by Shipra’s exact words

Lucky readers, Shipra is the first to answer the call for writers at da-AL’s blog. Will you be next?

Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. From Wikipedia, by By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) - Own work, FAL,

Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL,

In Shipra’s words…

A library is a place where you can either clear your head or fill it.

My first was our big motley collection of books at home: encyclopedias, religious books, management books, chemistry and botany books from my parents’ college days, child psychology, self-help, maternity, cookery, fiction, autobiography, and even a Hindi song book.

Internet wasn’t a household thing, so I flipped through glossy encyclopedia pages for pictures. The first books I read were Ruskin Bond novels for children, and comics.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 9.46.05 PM
Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL,

When my mom would leave for her office, I rummaged through her books, clothes, cosmetics and even office papers. In Reader’s Digest I came across the word, ‘naked.’ English is our second language. When I asked her what naked meant, she was shocked. I didn’t see Reader’s Digest again, and was instructed to only read books from a particular shelf.

The Chicken Soup for Soul series for kids and teenagers remains close to my heart. Although those stories were contributed by young children, their wisdom and maturity is something I find missing even in elderly people.

The next library was more of a rental shop with no place to sit. The owner suggested a Mills and Boons title featuring a couple in an embrace sure to get me into trouble at home. He pointed Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” which I loved. Next I got Coelho’s, “Veronica Decides to Die,” but my daddy made me return.

Library visits stopped when I readied for college entrance tests.  After tenth grade, I made new friends. The boys’ biology book explained human reproduction. Feeling like rebels, we visited the college library to read it!

In college, I ordered books online. My favorite was Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.48.35 PM
Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL,

My next library was during my final college year. It was huge, two floors of thousands of books. I had had my heart broken. My scores at an all time low, I resolved to channel my energy into studies. I was doggedly studying when, upon seeing a guy, I felt a flutter in my stomach. He was very tall, broad shouldered, muscular, with a movie hero face. I figured he was a library as well as a gym regular. Those days, I looked like the back of a truck, so I acted invisible, staring at guys longer than polite.

That week I visited the library only to see him. One day, while I stole glances at him, he sat behind me. He asked me about myself. I inquired about him. Fidgety, I blurted that I knew he from his book selection that he was in electronics and telecom.

We became good friends – bummer! – I got friend-zoned! We’re still friends, and say Hi to each other annually.

At my MBA college’s library I mostly read National Geographic.

Libraries have old world charm, each with an aura that rubs off on patrons. They’re treasures that shape communities, sanctuaries of silence and knowledge. Near extinct, they must be preserved. The joy of holding a book, turning pages, bookmarking them and seeing them yellow, is as priceless as having a friend you grew up with.

Shipra’s blog.

Shipra’s Indian Wedding Guide for Girls: a few of my thoughts by da-AL

Everyone should read Shipra’s imaginative fun packed blog. My fave of her posts:

Indian Wedding Guide for Girls
This post is my favorite example of Shipra’s wit and wisdom.

When I let her know how much I enjoyed it, here’s what developed:

I love how bloggers welcome each other so quickly.An interesting discussion had begun.This is what really got me to comparing our cultures.

As our discussion lingers in my mind, here’s some additional thoughts:

  • Real women speaking out everywhere, rather than merely famous ones, can only help everyone. That’s why blogs are wonderful!
  • Shipra’s description of Indian weddings, mothering, and stunted careers for women makes me grateful for my choices here in the U.S.
  • American weddings are often influenced by reality TV, sitcoms, and superstars, despite few of us being as prosperous we’re portrayed. Some weddings and marriages are traditional, while others are not. Some parents pressure for grandkids, others don’t. Either way, I don’t think parents have as much control over their kids as they do in other countries. For one thing, we’re too affluent to have to answer wholly to them. For another, our culture is too much about independence, even though more and more adult children are living with their parents longer.
  • Married, educated, working outside of the home — or not — women’s status in American still has a way to go. It’s decades since we won the right to choose whether to bring a child to term, yet today we’re forced to renew our fight to keep that right. Women earn only 77% of what men do. As ever, they do most of the childrearing, with little help from social programs.

Its easy to idealize other places when images are is filtered through politics and for-profit media. American researchers report that people elsewhere aren’t as lonely as us, that they’re happier, eat better and less, are trimmer, treat their elders better, and often live longer.

Los Angeles is a cultural kaleidoscope. When I travel abroad, it takes me a while to get acclimated to the lack of diverse people, home decors, and places to eat.

All the same, even with politics aside, immigrants have a tough time here. The more years they’re here, the less they have common with the folks they left behind. Their American-born kids grew up entirely different from them, and their grandkids all the more so.

Many immigrants complain that Americans aren’t into fun and socializing, that we work too many hours, that our families live too far apart, that youngsters are too materialistic. But those same people moved here to leave behind social and familial pressures, to set aside fun and socializing so they could earn lots of money.

As for career and motherhood, American women grapple with the same biological and career clocks as in India. To our advantage, while some parental pressure for grandkids is real, it’s usually not as intense as elsewhere. In my case, I feel fortunate that my personality side-stepped maternal pressures. I didn’t think I was cut out for motherhood until my happy marriage at age forty, when I fell for a man who does his best to be a fair partner. Since him, my attitude switched from, ‘kids aren’t for me,’ to, ‘if it happened, it happened.’

A good measure of this is thanks to the fact that, while I’m not wealthy, I’m not poor by American standards. For me, adoption has always be a viable option. It’s not appealing to me, though, when I consider how it usually involves politics and profiteering. Fertility procedures can involve shady business motives as well as physical risks. To my mind, parenthood is best left to the truly motivated.

Dear Reader, please feel free to join in the conversation.

Shipra’s blog.

Shipra’s post on Indian weddings.

National Organization of Women’s factsheet on U.S. women’s pay in comparison to that of American men.

Guest Blog Post: “Meet my Mbee…” by Akshitha Javahar

Below this blog’s (da-AL’s) 3rd guest post. First I linked it using ‘reblog’ on Akshitha’s site. But all I got was a sample, not Akshitha’s entire charming post. So I substituted a copy and paste. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Now I can add ‘cows’ to my list of topics covered within this blog! While North American cows don’t snack on dosa or chapatti, lucky Indian ones do!



There is this really cute calf that comes to graze in front of my house. She is actually my neighbour’s calf. I feed her bits of dosa, bread, chapatti or banana peels every day. Though initially I thought of naming her, I changed my mind later on when my neighbour told me they hadn’t named her yet. So now I simply call her onomatopoeically ‘’mbeee..” because she keeps calling out” mbeee mbeee” each time she sees me, cajoling me to give her something. As soon as she hears me calling “mbeeeee,’’ she moos back in response and comes running towards me. (It’s so funny! Someone should have taken a video of us !)She then licks my feet and I run my fingers over her soft head (she is really cute).But as soon as she has finished her little snack and she catches me leaving, she calls again..’’mmmbbbeeeeee’’ louder this time. I turn back and wave my empty palms at her. (Which means, I have nothing left) She understands the sign and soon she stops her moos and goes back to grazing. Today I gave her rice and rice water for a change and I think she liked it. I saw her munching happily. She even gave me a happy moo in response. Since she seemed happy I thought of taking a picture but, unfortunately, this was the response.

( Hope this post made you smile.)

Akshitha’s blog