Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Snail mails and packages

When I was a kid I had a few pen pals. We continued to write to each other until the conflict got serious. I love writing letters - and sending packages. But sadly in this digital era not that many people send snail mails. But I have to say that I do receive nice things in the mail. Sending mails and packages make the sender and the receiver happy. Below are a few items that came in the mail recently.

These are some pieces of fabric woven by textile artist Karina Nielson I responded to her invitation for a textile letters and received a nice snail mail from her which had the remnants pictured above. 

Neem flowers
The little things in the picture above are called 'veppam poo vadakam' (வேப்பம் பூ வடகம்) meaning dried neem flower delicacy. Neem tree - Azadirachta Indica grwos in tropical and semi tropical regions. Neem valued for its medicinal properties in Sri Lanka and India. All parts of the tree are used. People use neem twigs to brush teeth - the twigs kill the bacteria and strengthen the gums. Bark is boiled and the dark brown liquid is drank in an empty stomach to defecate worms. Powdered neem fruit skins, seeds and leaves keep the mosquitoes away when smoked. A bouquet of fresh neem twigs is hung at the doorway to ward off the evil spirits. Sitting under a neem tree in the hot summer is a bliss while inhaling the sweet smell of the flowers.

This dried delicacy/condiment is made with dried neem flowers added to ground black dhal batter with sesame and fennel seeds, chilies, curry leaves and salt. Then the batter is divided into small balls are dried for days in the sun to be stored until the next season. We eat thee sparingly with rice and curry or puttu. 

My friend didn't forget to include 
string hopper press in the package. It's wooden and handmade. It lasts for years. I haven't eaten string hoppers for a while so I'm excited. 

The inside of the press