Kitchen Vastushastra Explained

The USHA Kitchen

The USHA Kitchen

Lately there has been a resurgence in ancient Indian philosophy from a very scientific point of view. Take for instance the myth of Dashaavatar where the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu can be viewed within an evolution perspective, as Homo Sapiens moved from Matsya (the fish), Kurma (the amphibious tortoise), through Narshima (half man-half beast),  Rama (the ideal Man) and finally to Kalki (the destroyer of beings – resembling Darwin’s struggle for ‘survival of the fittest’). Similarly Vastushastra or the ancient Hindu doctrine of temple architecture is today being used more and more to plan out living spaces. A huge treatise in itself, of which we will only discuss the kitchen in this post. However, even as we take our first baby steps into the world of Kitchen Vastushastra let me warn you that things have changed – people live differently today. And with new lifestyles old ways innovate with style. So switch on to a New Life With USHA. 

USHA COOKTOPS: Vastu dictates the cooking stove to be at South-East

USHA COOKTOPS: Vastu dictates the cooking stove to be at South-East

Let’s begin with the most basic kitchen appliance, the Cooking Stove / Cooktop. Vastu dictates that it should be at the South-East and shouldn’t be too close to the wall. The former is simple space logic, having a stove at the South-East allows people to store both kitchen utensils and grocery/ingredients along the South and West for easy access. As the ancient laws also dictate that storage units for essential commodities like grains, pulses spices and other non-perishable commodities should be stocked along the South or the West direction. Regions where sunlight wasn’t really necessary – as most ancient kitchens windows were in the East, giving the previous farming communities early access to sunlight.

USHA HOODS, enable you to place your cooktop at any distance from the walls

USHA HOODS, enable you to place your cooktop at any distance from the walls

As for the latter reason of avoiding stoves too close to the walls was because during those days most homes were built with combustible materials; and people were just being cautious.However, today with the emergence of Hoods and new building materials this rule has almost become redundant in most urban homes.

USHA WATER DISPENSER: Store water towards the North East

USHA WATER DISPENSER: Store water towards the North East

The ancient Treatise also instructed people to build their kitchen sinks and store their Drinking water towards the North-East of the Kitchen, this was to ensure that the early morning rays killed the germs thereby keeping the water purified. Similarly fruits and other perishable materials were stored by the water for the very same reasons, which today could be replaced as a place for our Juicers.

USHA JUICERS: Keeping fruits by the window if not inside a Fridge makes sense

USHA JUICERS: Keeping fruits by the window if not inside a Fridge makes sense

Other Cooking Utensils were to be stored next to or near the cooking stove for convenience, in ancient times it could have meant pots and pans, as they were frequently used. For us it would mean our Ovens and Fryers, which would help us to keep a lookout on things – if we happen to be cooking more than a single dish at a time using various different appliances.

USHA FRYER: Appliances located close will help you watch-over your dishes

USHA FRYER: Appliances located close will help you watch-over your dishes

That’s some science titbits behind the glorious art of Vastu, but as we had mentioned earlier, times have changed and with our modern USHA appliances you can place anything, anywhere as you like; as long as you add logic and a little style to it.

USHA HALOGEN OVEN: Happy Cooking!

USHA HALOGEN OVEN: Happy Cooking!

Thinking of rearranging your kitchen? Go ahead and Play with USHA kitchen appliances – Jaw-dropping both in style and the delicious recipes they can cook up.

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Creative Branding: Cool it Raphael!

Ask a room full of people to name top three classical painters that immediately come to their mind? Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, are the most likely ones to figure. So, was this all our Marketing Research behind naming our groundbreaking acrylic series of colorfully glossy fans – Raphael? The answer o’course is no, if it were, we would have named it the thrilling Da Vinci or the pleasing Mona Lisa.

The Raphael Series

The USHA Raphael Series

When we dreamed of the Raphael series, we inspired to create art – a fan that would be glamorous enough for the Renaissance and yet be equipped with the latest technology that would make the Renaissance look cool and comfortable! The Sistine Chapel, thus was out of the question with all due respect, so was the Medici household. And thus we settled on the gorgeous Farnesina Villa, (then owned by the Chigi Banking Family). In two words the interiors of the Villa are ‘glamours and classical’. We could add a hundred more adjectives to it, but to cut it short -this was the place our fan perfectly fit in, adding both glamour and style. Incidentally the interiors were painted by who else but Raphael and hence the name.

Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina

But the story doesn’t end there, Raphael’s most famous painting in the Villa is the Galatea – a painting so remarkable for its time, that many consider it to be the beginning of baroque, the very genre our gloss finished fan was inspired from. Well, that was the story behind the name (Please don’t ask ‘What’s in a name?’ that line has simply been overused a little too much).

Galatea & Raphael Fan Detail

Galatea & Raphael Fan Detail

For us the Raphael Fan was a first of its kind with its: Hourglass inspired exquisite canopy design, Sparkling colours and its uniquely designed parallel blades that enabled high air displacement. And again coincidentally for ancient Rome the waters depicted in the Galatea painting was the inspiration behind most of the first Roman fountains you see today. The waters from these fountains made ancient Rome cool, their aesthetic appeal still manages to make a Roman Holiday cooler; and as for the USHA Raphael Fans they will always keep you glamorously happy – switched on, soothingly cool and switched off, stylishly cooler!

Trevi Fountaib

Trevi Fountain

We just hope that our homage to dear old Raphael doesn’t make him spin in his grave! Or do we? For these hi-tech fans can spin glamour into the simplest of rooms. But we are sure Raphael the eccentric he was, would be loving it. For flaunting was second nature to him, just like the USHA Raphael Series, would be to you.

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Sound of Silence

No, we are not here to philosophically muse about the Sound of Silence, nor wallow in nostalgia in the namesake Simon and Garfunkel song. But for a start, let the music be our master and draw us in with the lines: “And the vision that was planted in my brain / Still remains / Within the sound of silence.”

Gavin Francis in search of silence

Gavin Francis in search of silence

We are here to contemplate landscapes of silence with doctor, author, traveler Gavin Francis. The Edinburgh born Scotsman who finds the dark streets of his native land a little more quiet than that of India or Bhutan, if not for all our barking street mongrels. Francis spent about six months in India, time he admits not enough not only to see the country but to experience its silence.

He yearns to go over pathless seas like the ancient pilgrims did on leather boats, unsure where the shifting shores lie. To go on roads that are unaware of their beginnings and ends, for they know not the turns a traveler might take. His first foray into the world of silent spaces led him to the Laplands and to the lost islands that float between Scotland and Greenland. Silence called out to him from further North and seduced the doctor into a writer. Thus his first book True North came into being.

The universe conspired next and turned him into a traveler in search of a silence that is born of the land and drop from the sky. He walked under constellations and city lights across hemispheres North and South, searching for places where there are no markers of the passage of time. This pilgrim of silence found his alters in strange lands, each promised a certain degree of silence but never an everlasting one. Till silence whispered again subtly from the frozen South (on a lighter note the religious subtext is not at all intentional and no puns are intended).

Deep South, Antarctica called and Francis rushed into the very abyss of silence, which can only be comprehended, if lived, not read or visited. For Gavin Francis’ experience in Antarctica read the blog-post: A Love Letter to Antarctica. Remote and cold he recounts his experiences with penguins, ice, silence and months of nights, followed by months of daylight – he had finally lost all the markers that denote the passage of time. To watch him recount his experiments with silence watch the video below.

 

We met Gavin Francis at Usha presents Mountains Echoes 2014, the Bhutan Literary Festival. It was exciting and nice to listen to his adventures, almost like an old Victorian travel yarn; but it all sounded so cold. We only wished we had met him earlier, to gift him one of our Electric Kettles, at least he would have got his coffee warm and nice. After all, “How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup…”  (Virginia Woolf)

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

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Thread Art: Embroidery & Stitches in Time

American Quilt, 1840 (Brooklyn Museum)

American Quilt, 1840

“After all, a woman didn’t leave much behind in the world to show she’d been there. Even the children she bore and raised got their father’s name. But her quilts, now that was something she could pass on,” Sandra Dallas a reputed American voice once wrote. With all apologies to those quintessential Western words and quilting enthusiasts  we disagree, when it comes to the East. Especially in India thread art in form of embroidery are heirlooms – things of beauty, joy and truth, like Keats’ Grecian Urn.

The ancient Phulkari (flower work embroidery); the legendary Chikan craftsmanship (believed to be introduced by Nur Jahan); Kahsido work inspired by nature; the now trending mirror work embroidery – to name just a few. And who can ignore the elegance of Chinese Silk work embroidery. Yes, generations will come and go and your quilts will stay on, but eastern embroidery works are aesthetic creations not just pass me downs.

Eastern Emboridery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Embroidery & Kashida

Eastern Embroidery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Silk Embroidery & Kashida

However, times they are changing, the West has suddenly woken up to both Thread Art and Embroidery and have turned it into a fabulous medium of art – versatile and avant-garde, we are now looking at them from a whole new perspective. What punctuates our discussion now onward are a billion words, if each picture could be said to worth a thousand words.

The following piece is by Ana Teresa Barboza from Lima, Perú. Titled Suspension the artist uses Embroidery on cloth Knitted wool yarn.

Suspension

Suspension

While, the artwork of Annemieke Mein is unique. She combines fabric, paint and sewing threads to produce works that are realistically accurate. In the following piece titled Bulldog Ant, she uses Machine Embroidery along with applique, quilting and other techniques.

Bulldog Ant

Bulldog Ant

Inge Jacobsen uses thread work mostly on vintage commercial imagery using a Embroidery technique she has named ‘hijacking’ to throw new light on beauty and materialism – with a subtext that runs in every stitch. The work displayed below is a  Threaded Vogue Cover.

Vogue Cover

Vogue Cover

The last piece we present is by the Mondongo Argentina art collective, which includes artists Agustina Picasso, Manuel Mendanha, and Juliana Laffitte.The Untitled Portrait presented here uses various techniques created from Cotton threads on wood.

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Wasn’t those thread and embroidery works breathtaking? Inspired?

Inspired enough to create your own pieces? Yes, we know most of you are not experts but like all of us yearn to be, when it comes to things we are passionate about. And here is where we can help you live your dream through our USHA Janome Memory Craft Embroidery Machines. Machines so technological developed and artistically inclined that they will help you weave your dreams come alive, be it an art piece or an embroidery work to adorn a dress. It is Embroidery on Autopilot! Well almost, imagination is a must though.

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

 To Know more and Get Started Click Here

Melon Juice: The Fountain of Youth

Why can’t Melons get married? Because they can’t-elope!

Musk Melon or Kharbuja, is popularly known as Cantaloupe in the Western world; ever since their seeds from the East were first planted at the Papal Gardens in the Italian city of Cantalupo during the 16th century. Jokes apart and history aside, if you are trying to lose weight than the Cantaloupe is a must for your menu!

For the health conscious a daily glass of Musk Melon juice is great for the body and eyesight. But best of all it helps you to fight aging with its high content of Vitamin C, which drives away free radicals and barbarian viruses responsible for damaging your cells. Ergo, you have found your own private Fountain of Youth in the USHA Juicer!

So here is the secret recipe:

Untitled-1 copyIngredients

  1. 1 Musk Melon
  2. Sugar as per required (brown sugar is a great option as it would deepen the colour and give a caramelized flavor to the juice, using honey would make it more healthier)

Method – Preparation in 5 minutes.

  • Rinse the Musk Melon in water.
  • Then slice them into long pieces.
  • Remove the peel and separate it from the flesh and remove seeds.
  • Add musk melon to your juicer / juicer mixer grinder with sugar and ice cubes.
  • Enjoy refreshing juice. Enjoy life!

Before we sign off here is another piece of advice: Always buy evenly shaped melons, which do not bear any cuts and bruises; and select the heavy ones, they make the best juices.

The USHA Fountain of Youth

The USHA Fountain of Youth

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The Spirit of Coffee

Our story begins in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan where people believe that, their is a Coffee Spirit! An occult being of element and air which can only be appeased by coffee! People take this custom seriously, religiously offering cups of coffee after coffee in various ritualistic forms to this airy being. Such beings that once walked the past, seems to have evolved with time – either just inside our heads or in themselves is debatable!

USHA Coffee Machines, to help you keep the magic alive

USHA Coffee Machines to help you keep the magic alive

Animism has been evolving over time as part of our culture and one cannot throw it away as utter mambo-jumbo because their very roots literally lie in nature itself. Arising from the trees, the elements and the world around us animism has a very conservative aspect to it. The slogan ‘Save the Trees’ could as well be an animist one. It puts forth a love and respect for nature in a ritualistic form rather than a scientific one – the belief that we can save ourselves by saving and appeasing the world around us, sounds like a very 21st century concern, yet it did exist when Shamans spoke to the stars and trees, and the trees spoke back.

LOTR Trees

The Living Trees from LOTR

Deep in our primal selves the sub-conscious still retains and respects the values of animism – the Box Office, talking walking trees from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are a proof to that. Tolkien once wrote “…The first men to talk of ‘trees and stars’ saw things very differently. To them, the world was alive with mythological beings… To them the whole of creation was ‘myth-woven and elf-patterned’. And mark these words from yet another popular Television series The Game of Thrones “But there are some who still keep to the Old Way, worshiping the faceless gods of the Children of the Forest and the First Men.” The point being that animism has survived in various forms, hiding quietly beneath surfaces in our words and deeds. What is the plural for Magpies? A tidings of Magpies. Another point well made, shall we say?

As part of our culture, animism is so seamlessly and unconsciously weaved into our daily lives that it cannot be ignored, though often and always overlooked. Today’s Magic is tomorrow’s science, similarly yesterday’s superstition is today’s tradition, of which animism has become a part.

To learn more about the Coffee Spirit and other Himalayan animistic beliefs watch the session Wild Spirits: Animism in the Himalayas, where experts Sangay Wangchuk, Kunzang Choden in conversation with Manju Wakhley discuss the value systems, their merits and issues at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014

Sips of Wisdom

badge-clock copy“Honestly, if you’re given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don’t say ‘what kind of tea?” – Neil Gaiman.

Enough has been written about this magical concoction of leaves and boiling water, and more cups have been drained with relish day after day as centuries came and went, and as they will come and go. What is it all about, one might wonder? And one might wonder what will it be like to sip a cup with Mad Hatter? Lots of mad talk with method one might presume, but remember that truth does set you free in the end but first it will drive you mad. So here is Hatter over tea with a little bit of tea trivia and a little bit of outrageous tea trivia.

Long before the commercial production of tea started in India in the late 1830s, tea plants were growing wild in the jungles in northeastern Assam, in India; and without o’course the factories, machines and what-not, the locals just used their hands (they still do) and bullocks (they no longer do) to create the first brews! On a different note, did you know that long long back the Assamese at times ploughed their land using Rhinos! Figure that.

Tea Plantation, Processing Plant, Bunglow and Horse Carriage - Sibsagar, Assam c1880's

Tea Plantation, Processing Plant, Bunglow and Horse Carriage – Sibsagar, Assam c1880’s

Darjeeling Tea is the champagne of teas! In the 1960’s two fellows Bernd Wulf and Ranabir Sen began to modify the processing of the various tea leaves in the beautiful hills that stretched below the snow-capped Himalayas. The result was the more complex aromas and oolong-like subtleties we find in many Darjeeling Teas today.However, beware for every 400 tons of tea sold under the name of the Hill Town every year, only 100 tons actually comes from Darjeeling! 

Varieties of Darjeeling Tea

Varieties of Darjeeling Tea

Tea from the southern Nilgiri hills of the blue mountains make great iced tea due to their liveliness and clarity! Besides it is really good for health: It reduces risk of heart attack and strokes, protects your bones, and bolsters your immune system too; besides bringing that smile to our faces every morning and sometimes at night too. Night? Well, here is how to have tea as a party drink: Mix gin and cold tea, flavor with little lemon rind, and you’ll get a great summer cocktail.

Dawn over the Nilgiri Tea Gardens

Dawn over the Nilgiri Tea Gardens

And to keep this glorious tradition on over all the mediocrity that time tends to throw at us, add a little style to your tea drinking style, perhaps you could use a Bamboo Kettle! (an homage to China, where tea originated). Try the exquisitely designed Real Bamboo finish Kettle by Usha. It even serves 12 to 14 cups, enough to keep the conversation flowing. So usher in tea with Usha.

Usha Bamboo Kettle

Usha Bamboo Finish Kettle EK 3217B

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Juicing For Fitness: Carrot Coconut Juice

You have got your numbers right, pitches presented and plans approved, all in a day’s work! Well done to you and to your body who saw you through the daily grind. Your body carries you through the thick and thin every single day, it is only right that you devote at least a few minutes to it too: Be it exercise, cycling, gyming, aerobics, yoga or any other fitness regime that you prefer. And some among you can’t get enough of crunches, laps and push-ups, following a religion of a fitness regime and even tracking it on the latest gadgets from Jawbone Up and Nike Fuel bands.

Irrespective of the group you belong to, here is a nice little additional after-workout celebration that you all must partake in – a cool glass of Carrot Coconut Juice to rejuvenate and refresh yourself back (almost) with an ‘Ode to joy’. So take out that Usha Juicer and prepare this glass of sheer seventh heaven bliss, as you let your body relax on cloud 9!

Untitled-1 copyIngredients

  1. 2 glasses of water
  2. 2 tsp Sugar (optional)
  3. 4 Small Carrots
  4. Small piece of Ginger
  5. 1 cup Coconut (grated)

MethodPreparation in 5 minutes.

  • Chop the carrots into small pieces and juice it with your Usha centrifugal juicer.
  • Grind coconut, ginger and sugar together.
  • Mix both juices for natural and refreshing taste.
  • Enjoy it with ice cubes.

And for those not very keen on the whole fitness thing. Simply Juice for pleasure – every drop of this awesome juice is simply worth all of Seventh Heaven in itself. Cheers!

Living on the Edge

If you came here thinking of the screams and riffs of Aersomith’s most famous single and their Live Concert staple anthem – Livin’ on the Edge, you couldn’t be more wrong. But hold on because you are at the right place at ironic some level. Just as the legendary band put to melody issues ranging from racism to religion in the song, this too is about such social issues. It talks about communities in Bhutan who live off the map -without roads, electricity and other everyday things that we take for granted.

Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

A community neglected by media, their own suave urbanites, yet strangely not by the Bhutanese Royals, especially the Queen Mother (read/watch the session: The Travelling Eye). Remote and ‘so far from anywhere’ these communities live on the edge not just geographically (though that can be contested if one speaks of the Bhutanese terrain and settlements along or below the edges of mountains and cliffs like the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery); and economically living off a harsh land and dangerous forest; but also culturally preserving an amalgamation of wisdom that would sound strange to a city dweller.

Marie Venø Thesbjerg, Passang Passu Tshering, Dr. Francoise Pommaret in conversation with Siok Sian Dorji, discusses these issues beautifully in this namesake session at the Usha presents Mountain Echoes Literary Festival 2014 at Thimphu Bhutan.

As an added bonus it is a pleasure to listen to Marie Venø Thesbjerg’s talk about yet another kind of ‘Living on the Edge’ – that of Buddhist Nuns; not only did she live among them but also made a documentary on them.

 

Have Visited HAB, Yet?

The HABHere is a little secret for you, there is this amazing place in Mumbai called The HAB and another one at Kochi. Short for Haberdashery store , The HAB is perhaps the best Sewing R&D center in the country. But don’t let the dreaded abbreviation ‘R&D’ intimidate you because Research and Development is just one aspect of it. It was primarily set up by Usha to encourage sewing among people .

projectsDoesn’t matter whether you are a kid or a mother or a grandmother The HAB has tailored (pun intended) course for about everyone. You could start with something as simple as a Bookmark and move up the sewing ladder unto garments and home decor – anything is possible at The HAB. You dream it and we will teach you to weave your dreams into reality.

There are also short activities and workshops catering to various occasions from Father’s Day and Monsoon sessions to the upcoming Raksha Bandhan. An expert will take you step by step through these various workshops and activities, helping you create magic out of fabrics. These workshops can last for anything between 30 mins to 6 hours (spread over days if you want it that way).

And believe us The HAB is as glamorous as Sewing can get with its eloquent ambiance and highly advanced sewing and embroidery machines.

Thinking of picking up a new Hobby? Why not head to The HAB to unleash your creativity, we promise it will be more than worth it. To Check out what people are sewing, stitching  and creating Click Herebag

Address: The HAB, Opp Sahib Khatwara Darbar, Road no. 7, Linking Road, Khar (W)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Tel: 022 6127 4444