In The Kitchen With Anita & Kumari

To say that Anita's kitchen is bustling with activity would be the gross understatement of the year. If she's not cooking, she's whipping up a delicious snack or her cook, Kumari, is busy prepping for the next meal. Fresh vegetables from the market jostle with fruits from her mother's garden on Anita's counters. There's some kind of green everywhere. And if she were writing this, she would not hesitate to add that that includes her compost pit, as well!

Outside Anita's Kitchen

Friday Feature: Faces of India

Who: A homemade ice cream vendor, Kulfiwala and his customers
Where: Amer Fort, Jaipur, India
What: A young man and his helper earn a living by selling kulfi, homemade ice cream.

The Kulfiwala

Friday Feature: Faces of India

Who: Master Craftsmen or Paramparik Karigar
Where: Agra, India
What: Chiseling slivers of polished stones to make inlay work of floral patterns, in the style found on the Taj Mahal. These craftsmen work with very basic hand-driven tools and literally lose their fingertips in the process.

Faces of India

Dancing Dolls, Jalebis and Masala Papad

It's very difficult to focus on writing when life pulls you in various different directions. It is worse when you sit transfixed, watching Mother Nature unleash her fury as it happens. The devastation and trauma becomes your very own through Twitter, Facebook, newspapers and even Al-Jazeera.

Like many of you, I sat glued to my computer late into the night on Thursday, switched to portable devices as it became evident that day-break was near and I needed to get some shut-eye. My dear friend in Tokyo would be safe, I knew. Until it dawned on me that he had moved to Mito, the capital of Ibaraki prefecture, to care for his aging parents. Ibaraki and Miyagi are two prefectures that were closest to the epicenter of the devastating earthquake and the hungry tsunami. Google Maps showed that he lived not too far away from the shore but hopefully far away enough to be unaffected by the tsunami. Pictures from the web showed damaged homes, crushed cars and roads with giant gaps in them. I knew better than to call so I sent an email and waited. And waited. And hoped for the best, refreshing my Inbox more often than it is scheduled to, until finally "I am fine" came through. Never have those words seemed sweeter than they did. I was very grateful. And then I cried for all the lives that were lost and are still missing in the aftermath of this deadly tsunami.

Those who want to help can go to and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. (American Red Cross)

A little diversion and a little bit of cheering up would not be out of line, I think, and what better than these Giant Dancing Dolls we found at Dilli Haat! Was there anyone who didn't have a smaller version of these in their home when they were growing up in India? Ubiquitous. (Background music from Hemant Kumar's Bees Saal Baad, 1962 some nondescript Disco Unusual song that Youtube suggested after a user saregama took exception to my using less than 25s of a song they claim to own copyrights for. I used it under the fair use clause and not for commercial profit but they still wanted me to take it down even though there are hundreds of other videos with the same song and with views in the thousands. Whatever.)

Giant women, including Anita