Colonial Iterations

Have you heard this one? Says one guy to another, “My mother-in-law makes yoghurt by simply staring at the milk.” Clearly, he knows nothing about microbes 🙂

I’ve made yoghurt for years but our travels abroad took us to places where there was no fresh milk, except the ultra heat treated variety that that could survive unopened without a refrigerator for six to nine months. We didn’t miss it except for tea. Nairobi though, had lots of fresh cow’s milk, unlike that of the water buffalo milk largely available in India. The 20th Livestock Census found that India had more than 109 million buffaloes, above 56% of the world population [1] Apparently, Italy guard their water buffalo like a national treasure, India should take a page out of their bible.

On the East Coast of the US, the milk from the regular supermarkets ranges from pasteurised, non homogenised or homogenised [2]whole milk to milk that contains no fat, [3] none of it like that of the water buffalo. So, there are no thick creamy layers that separate out and add an amazing layer to yoghurt but I have finally managed to successfully make a fairly thick natural yoghurt, thanks to a starter from a friend. This one tastes very unlike the store brought varieties that are usually thickened with carrageenan [4] or other such ingredients. 

A tablespoon of starter culture in a clean jar

Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are responsible for producing lactic acid that help coagulate milk proteins and thus ferment milk, making it digestible. There are many other types that will exist alongside these two main species involved [5]

Scalded milk mixed with culture (scalding may help get rid of unwelcome yeasts or bacteria prior to adding culture), and kept loosely covered until set to a jelly like consistency

I was so happy to see the curds come alive that I felt compelled to write about them. All it needs is a spoonful of culture or starter, scalded milk that you can dip a finger into without burning yourself and a clean glass bowl (whole milk makes for thicker yoghurt) I placed the culture in the container and poured the milk over and stirred it, covered lightly (I didn’t seal it), I placed it in a warm corner ( the inside of the oven with the light on or a microwave oven). At ambient temperature, it may take a few hours to reach a jelly like consistency which indicates it’s done. I left mine undisturbed for twelve hours and it will stay well alive in the refrigerator, for a week or more until it begins to sour. There are other things that can be done then, like labneh [6] (akin to Greek Yoghurt) or it can be heated to form a soft cheese. Someday, I should write about this too. The yoghurt can be used as a starter culture to begin another batch.

Colonial Iterations

There's no metaphor in milk, 
it's simply a variety of cows,
like the seven days in a week,
seven breeds of cow in America.

Smile for the small brown Jersey*
with the long eyelashes. 
Bacilli meet bovine, to curdle 
the chaos in tepid milk.

An iteration of this philosophy
yields more curds than 
there are clouds in the sky !
The sediment could be Greek

if the hyper-agile microbes
emigrate across a sieve 
and the plot would thicken 
to defy patents** in a kitchen.

Jamming impersonally
within a porcelain bowl and
all it takes is a spoonful 
to whip up a new world colony.

The Onomastics of teeming multitudes
engaged in a strange barter 
of affections is the logic of science.
That I simply stare and smile is mine 🙂

I was having fun with figures of speech and some obsolete Onomatology ! For those of you that really like yoghurt, this is  the most “terriblest” song I have ever heard about Yoghurt by Ylvis and it’s still the best ! The video is too 🙂








* Breeds of Cows, USA

** Whey from Greek Yogurt

Yoghurt Song by Ylvis~

On alpine alliterations and buried water

Buried water

I resorted to photo poetry today, inspired by two disparate images and tried to bring them together for Pride month. I am quite annoyed with myself for not taking photos of two fire hydrants that struck me on my visit to the Jersey Shore area. They were yellow with green caps and the one near the hotel at Assateague Island was possibly the most elegant looking one surrounded by a riot of flowers. That picture would have been worth more than a thousand words and now, I have only words that should suffice to conjure that image for you dear reader. Enjoy the poem, for Pride Month and for rainbows.

Deep winter, those downy conifers arose
arranged in an alpine alliteration
on a path to somewhere or elsewhere
or possibly nowhere. Their wandering

needles traced that which coursed the palm
of a suburban street, where water lay buried
beneath snow in the veins of a profligate
poetry. Is a fire hydrant an embankment

to metaphorical apostasy within states
of matter? Those conifers simply stammer
in enjambment along every bank and furrow,
sounding a Morse code of pinecones

on summer grass, asking if the fireplug
is red in a stoic abstinence than
the ephemeral rainbow scattering through
soft rainy mist painting the skies.
At the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge ~ alliterative trees


Pinecones can stay on pine trees for more than 10 years before falling to the ground ~

Pride Month is celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots also called the Stonewall Uprising, which began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world ~

The timberline is usually a point where there isn’t enough air, heat, or water to keep trees alive. The alpine timberline marks the point where the elevation is too high, and usually too cold, for tree growth. For e.g. The city of Vail, Colorado, is located near an alpine timberline in the Rocky Mountains. Trees along the Vail timberline include quaking aspen and lodgepole pine ~

Fire hydrants are colour coded for water flow and pressure ~

BLUE1500 GPM or moreVery good flows
GREEN1000-1499 GPMGood for residential areas
ORANGE500-999 GPMMarginally adequate
REDBelow 500 GPMInadequate
Colour of the Hydrant Top
GREENOver 120 p.s.iExtremely high pressure (caution!)
ORANGE50-120 p.s.i.“Normal” pressure range
REDBelow 50 p.s.i.Must be “pumped”
Colour of the Hydrant Cap
WHITEPublic System Hydrant(EBMUD)
YELLOWPrivate System HydrantConnected to public water main
REDSpecial Operation HydrantNot used except for spcl. procedures
VIOLETNon Potable SupplyEffuent, pond or lake supply
Colour of the Hydrant Body

Butterfly Sunrise

The water was the ripple of silk and the birds had quietened down. There were no skunks or bees or mosquitoes or anything that could spray, sting and bite, except the temperature was an ungodly 25 degrees Celsius and even Christian Wiman’s poem [1] made for a stark reminder of the hamster wheel of friendships and beliefs. I walked and listened to words witten by this professor at Yale divinity school, that rasped,

“All my friends are finding new beliefs and I am finding it harder and harder to keep track of the new gods and the new loves,and the old gods and the old loves,and the days have daggers, and the mirrors motives,and the planet’s turning faster and faster in the blackness…”

It’s a poem about steadfastness of friendship given our changing beliefs in life, which make for an interesting perspective [2]. The poet quite unusually, finds his friends beautiful and credible despite their changing mores or circumstance which is heartening to see.

It was getting darker and darker, until I came upon “butterfly sunrise”  on my evening walk. A little girl had etched markings for hopscotch at various lengths of the path and one of them had these words written on it, at another she had printed  “sunshine footprints” and at a third, she had scrawled her signature in a delightful flourish. It was happy graffiti and I borrowed her words for a poem.

Process:Mine is a loose sequence of tercets aiming not to rhyme in iambic pentameter with a little enjambment.

I breeze walk past homes open for summer,
they let out bright light in sounds and fragrance,
perfumed women, men, the softest soap.

The air's rarer, for I can smell them all.
Skunks spirit into the dark undergrowth,
butterfly sunrise jumps at me in chalk,

speedier than sunset and challenges
the lungs; they disobey my evening breath.
These hopscotch numbers are math on a path

leaving sunshine footprints at dusk, like late
blossoms on short overgrown bonsai plants.
There's a food truck, people from twenty nineteen,

unmask smiles at the clubhouse gleefully,
clinking glasses. Those on the tennis courts
sweat out spring, while dogs stroll their walkers.

Summer never really raised a brow
until luciana thought to hopscotch
the road to happiness, in coloured chalk.