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An Indian toy story

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Do you remember the toys you grew up with?  I had a little wooden owl that was simple with bright colors. It did not sing, did not move and maybe you could call it boring?  But I call it timeless – it was part of my make believe stories and one person plays and I remember it even today.   If you are looking for beautiful toys of yesteryear, look no further.

Between Bangalore and Mysore lies a small town called Channapatna.  Artisans in this town are keeping their toy making legacy alive today as they work with Maya Organic – an NGO that helps the toy makers earn a decent living from this dying art.

Image courtesy: Maya Organic

Using renewable hale wood, the artisans hand craft these beautiful toys and color them using natural dyes like turmeric and kum kum.  A coloured lac* stick is pressed against the wood while it is turning on the lathe. The lac melts due to the frictional heat and sticks to the wood.

Merry tops


Gorgeous, aren’t they? These beautiful toys recently made a splash due to Michelle Obama’s interest during her last India trip.

*Lac is an organic non-toxic finish and can be used in food as well as non- food products. It has a tenacious adhesive quality sticking to anything from porous wood to glossy smooth surfaces.

Available at

Written by Redpatang

May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Searching for Hanuman

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Rainy days mean indoor activities for young ones and its always nice to have an option other than the mainstream craft projects.  Check out the super adventures of Hanuman in this adventure filled book “Where’s Hanuman“:

The book has 12 colorful scenes ranging from Sita’s wedding to Marching to lanka. Here is a sample scene…can you find Hanuman?

Each scene has a simple explanation around the events for little ones …and while the main quest is to look for Hanuman, there are other things to find as well:

So how many were you able to locate?

Where’s Hanuman? is written by Alister Taylor and illustrated by Christopher Woods and Ben McClintic.

Written by Redpatang

April 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

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A modern take on the Dhol + Video featuring Rani Taj

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The dhol  (Indian drum) is best known for its widespread use in Punjabi and modern Bhangra music and was often used to celebrate a successful harvest.

Courtesy: Little guruskool musical instruments board book

The drum is made up of a wooden barrel with animal hide or synthetic skin stretched over its open ends, covering them completely.  The dhol is played using two wooden sticks, usually made out of bamboo and cane wood.

But the main reason the dhol has recaptured our attention is new Dhol sensation Rani Taj (yes you read that right – a girl dhol player!) and her modern take on this ancient instrument.  Here is her Dhol remix rendition to Rihanna’s Rudeboy:

Note- lyrics of this song are not kid-friendly

So, what did you think?  Post your comments here or  on our facebook page.

Written by Redpatang

April 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Packaging talks – Chumbak

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A customer recently wrote in saying he was pleasantly surprised at the quality and packaging of the Chumbak items he had purchased.  This made us realize that the pictures were not doing this uber-fun brand justice.  So, here is a deeper look at the packaging and a sample magnet to give you a better sense of the product line.

Lets start with the fun Ganesha magnet with the packaging intact:

Cool.. right? But hold on, unlike most products, you can enjoy the packaging too…take a close look at the elaborate detail put together on the little card that makes up the background.  We are saving this one to color in as a fun kids activity on a rainy day:

And finally, to give you some perspective on the heft and dimension of the magnet itself:

Chumbak was founded by Shubhra Chadda out of a love for India and travel .  Today, the product line includes magnets, keychains, charms and more.

Written by Redpatang

April 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Chumbak

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Rediscovering Amar Chitra Katha, for my daughter…

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I had not thought about them for the last 15 plus years.  Why?  Well, I have been in the US for 11 years.  Visits to India have been infrequent and short – not enough time to soak up a lot of Indian anything. By adapting to the American way, I have lost a little bit of Indian in me and slowly morphed into “The Indian American”.

So you ask, why now?  Well, I have a little daughter.  She looks Indian but so much of what we do today is not.  We babble in English, watch Disney TV and pizza tastes better than dal-chaaval.   That’s not how I grew up.  Most certainly not.  I want my little girl to have some flavor of how I spent my Indian summers.

We are talking about the pre-teen years, and here’s what I remember.   The last day of final exams meant no more studying, no more homework, no more waking up early to go to school.  Summer vacations had arrived and with it …mangoes and masala movies.  When the afternoons got really hot, I read all the Amar Chitra Katha comics I could get, courtesy – my older brother (let’s just say I got to share in the of enjoyment of his allowance money).

Fast forward to present day….

Masala movies -check.  They have been here for a long time
Mangoes (the King kind) -check.  They started showing up in 2009
Amar Chitra Katha – finally …..check

This summer I am hoping to start a new tradition.  I will be reading the Panchatantra & Jataka series to my not yet 2 year old daughter.  I’ll leave the history and epic series for when she gets older.  I know we are Indian, but no pressure.  She is still young 🙂

– A father’s perspective by Jay

Written by Redpatang

April 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm

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