Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances


On Monday (the 21st), Michael gave a seminar at NCBS and then we hopped onto a plane from Bangalore to Pune.  Pune is the 9th largest city in India and is in the state of Maharashtra.  It is located in the Central Western part of India.

We have been flying on Indigo Airlines, supposedly one of the best in India.  We have been impressed with their crew, staff and facilities.  The planes have all been on time and baggage handling has been exceptional….ie…..all of our bags arrived at each destination!!!

We have now learned a few other things about domestic travel.  First of all, you have to send your checked bag thru security before you get your boarding pass.  When they check it, they put a twist tie thru the zipper pulls and cover it with a stamped tag.

Likewise, you have to put a baggage tag on all of your carry-on baggage and it is stamped when you go thru security.   These tags are checked once or twice as you board the plane.

For the most part, there are no announcements in the airports.  As the attendants arrive at the gate, people just start lining up!!

Most of the flights that we have done were in and out of smaller airports so we have taken a bus or walked to the plane and then entered via a steep ramp.  They had various slogans written on the ramp including “stairway to 30,000 feet”, and one had a sign just that you saw as you stepped out of the plane door that said “Welcome to Earth”!!

On one of the buses, we ended up trailing behind a slow moving tractor on the tarmac and asked the question “Do they honk on the tarmac?” and were answered with a resounding “YES” as the bus driver sat down on the horn.

Our flight to Pune was uneventful and we were picked up by a driver from the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER).  He took us to our room at the guest house and we thankfully fell into bed for the night.

In the morning we found our way to breakfast and met this wonderful gentleman who made sure that we had plenty to eat….


Each morning had a selection of national delicacies as well as good old buttered toast and jelly!!!  We normally had a mixture of both.

I was excited to see this design in the dining room…..  DSC05753

Just last week I ordered the book “Millefiori Quilts” which is all about piecing these types of designs.   Now I cant wait to get home and look at the book!!!

After breakfast we walked outside to have a look around.  The guest house and conference center is situated in the center of campus with all other buildings easily accessible


It is built around an open courtyard…..DSC05765

….with a childcare facility located in one corner of the ground floor.

I loved this artistic quartet which adorned one of the walls…..


On Tuesday night, the students had organized to have dinner with Michael and myself and we were ushered into the Faculty canteen and given a scrumptious meal….. DSC05756

…followed by some of the best ice cream that I have ever tasted…..DSC05757

It is called Matkakulfi and is similar to ice cream in appearance and taste however it is denser and creamier.

It was nice sitting at the table with the kids and we were the only ones in the room so it was easy for everyone to talk and be heard.  The students were super sweet and we had a wonderful time with them although much of the conversation was scientific in nature.   However, while Michael talked Science with them, I tried to learn about their lives and desires.  It was a fun night…..


On Wednesday morning, I walked with Michael to the Science complex…..DSC05769

It is a gorgeous building……DSC05774

…once again built around an open courtyard, but this one contained a beautiful manicured landscape…..DSC05785

The main reason for my visit was to see several very special pieces of Central Indian Tribal art that hung in the building.

The first were two pieces done in the  “Warli” style…..DSC05776DSC05775

Here is a description that I found on a website  about Indian tribal art.……

“Warli painting is an art form that was first conceived by the Warli tribe, residing in mountainous as well as coastal regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra border and surrounding areas. The paintings are traditionally done on house walls in white over brown background. The white pigment is rice mixed with water and gum and the ochre shade was achieved because of the cow-dung plastered mud walls. Their subject commonly depicts narratives from tribal life and presents common village rituals, allude to religious practices and deify gods and goddesses. However, the figures are extremely rudimentary and the composition is achieved with the help of variations in the basic shapes: circle, triangle and square. Despite the fact that the paintings usually adorn the inner walls of mud houses, yet their study shall convey interesting narratives about the hardships of rural life, religious beliefs and tribal ideologies. The tragedy of the loss of the commons also often finds its way into the narratives of the paintings.”

The other piece was an example of Gond Tribal art….DSC05778

More information from the website…..

“Like Warli paintings, Gond art also originated by attempts of the tribal communities to decorate the walls and floor which later transposed onto paper and canvasses.  The pigments are organically extracted and the paintings are easily recognizable because of the recurrent use of dashes, dots and vibrant colours to compose images. The characteristic motifs of Gond art are surreal images that have origin in mythology of the tribe and the experiences of their interactions with the world. These paintings have succeeded in recording the histories of a people who have often relied on oral sources for handing down of narratives.”

Here is a close-up showing the use of lines in the painting…..


Michael fell in love with the painting and wishfully asked Shashi (his host) if he could take it home as an honorarium……


Shashi respectfully declined, but later produced a small silk piece that is reminiscent of the art…..DSC05790

I continued walking with my head pointed to the ground and found this pattern in one of the walkways.  It looks fairly random, but I think that there are some fun patterns that could be made with fabrics!!!DSC05770

I returned to the Guest house to pack for our next journey, but had to stop and take a photo of our shower……


It was nicely glassed in and the water was hot.  If we just could have moved the toilet out it would have been perfect!!!

We were treated to lunch by Sutirth who took us to a Kebab place.  He asked if we ate meat and we hungrily assured him that we did.  As we walked up to the restaurant, we passed a veterinary store and Michael ensured that he knew that there were CERTAIN meats that we didn’t want to eat!!!

The meal was simple with each Kabob being brought separately along with mouth watering Tandoori Naan.  The food was served on metal trays with the water in heavy copper glasses…..


Dessert arrived…..DSC05797

and we asked if you removed it from the leaves.  Sutirth assured us that you ate it leaf and all, popping the entire thing in his mouth to prove the point.   I ate mine in stages so that I could photograph the filling.   It was dense and gooey and really tasty although I have NO idea what the filling was made of…..DSC05799

The check arrived in this cute box and the money to pay was placed in it as well and returned to the server….DSC05798

As we were waiting for our ride, I noticed this cart advertising “Snakes Center”….DSC05801

I asked Sutirth if they really served snakes and he laughed and said “no…that is SNACKS”!!!   We all had a good laugh at it.

At this point, Michael finally got his wish to ride in a Rickshaw.   We waited for the car to pick us up but were concerned that we needed to be heading to the airport very soon so Sutirth hailed a Rickshaw for our transport.   Unfortunately the driver missed the turn into the campus and proceeded to make a 25 point U-Turn into on-coming traffic. Remember that a Rickshaw has no reverse gear so he would pull forward a few inches and then let it rock back into the curb!!   I started videoing when we were perpendicular to the curb…..enjoy……


So, as it ended up, Michael got a Rickshaw ride AND a near death experience all at the same time!!!!

3 thoughts on “Pune….

  1. Frances- remind me to make you kulfi sometime. I agree that it is the best ice cream! The leaves you tasted are called “paan” (literally edible leaves from betel plant) and it is an after-meal mouth freshener/digestive rather than a dessert per se. Thanks for all the pics of the scientific buildings- I've never seen them myself so this is a lovely tour!

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