Unexpected Elephants and Moustache’d Inspectors

On the day that he was due to retire, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovered that he had inherited an elephant.

And thus starts a novel which takes Inspector Chopra on a journey which no one could have expected at all. Full of murder, conspiracy, domestic dramas in the complex they live in and a cute little elephant, this novel has it all. This novel was recommended to me by a friend who thought I would like it, and I’m glad she did – it reminded me of a lot of things in different way which made me enjoy the story all the more. There’s scenes of the manly hero, Inspector Chopra chasing the ‘baddies’ through meandering roads and hiding in warehouses a la Bollywood style (albeit the 60s and 70s action movies kind). There’s conspiracies, corruption and secrets, with the weak poor classes against the corrupt rich. And at the heart of it all is the focus of traditional values and the importance of honesty.

The story also reminds me a little of another detective series, Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which has the similarities of infusion of local culture, wonderfully drawn characters and quirky, gentle humour. The story follows the retirement of Inspector Chopra in the richly-described Mumbai, following two mysterious cases; firstly the inheritance of a baby elephant left to him by a loved uncle for reasons unknown, and secondly the drowning of a young man whose death is suspicious, yet keeps being brushed under the carpet. With this, Inspector Chopra’s retirement suddenly feels too peaceful and boring, and the hero is led to investigate on his own, leading him to more serious issues like the corruption of the upper-classes, the activism of lower classes for more rights, into the dark Underworld and slums.

The story is quirky and whimsical enough that there are a few sweet, silly lines which keep the story entertaining, although there are also more serious issues which are given their space, which balance the story well. This isn’t a serious, thriller-type crime novel, but it is a story which draws you into the busy, colourful world of Mumbai and see it through the eyes of a native. This is something which feels a little more old-fashioned, quietly showing us the story yet charming, the characters are very likeable, such as the sub-plot of the Inspector’s marriage with his feisty wife Poppy (and her mother!), and the impact of the baby elephant on all of their lives.

I really enjoyed this novel, if only because I loved the story is brought together, the two mysteries running alongside each other, with the colourful voice of Mumbai, street-life and the gentle humour which gives this story the whimsical touch. There are some who have said that this story isn’t credible, or even very original, but I think that it’s hard to depict the characters and city-life of India the way this story has, and it has been quite well done. I’m already looking forward to the next in the series on my book reader, and I’ll wait to see if the baby elephant is still in the next novel!

Lumiere London 2016: Lighting up a city

My sister and I were lucky enough to see all the beautiful lights which were set up last week for Lumiere London, one of the country’s biggest light festivals. We managed to see most of the light installations – out of 40 of them we only missed around three or four.

I won’t describe them too much because there were so many, and because the pictures looked amazing – the lights were looked beautiful in the night and there was such a nice atmosphere of tourist and Londoners all out at the same time exploring the different streets with installations.

Mayfair and Bond Street

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Regent Street and Carnaby Street

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Pall Mall and The Strand

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Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Westminster

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Kings Cross

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We spent about four hours walking around all over London, but it was great fun and we managed to find spots of London we hadn’t been to before!

You can see more pictures on my sister’s blog, and also on my instagram account too. Did you manage to see any of these?

A Floral Print Rickshaw in London

I saw this recently while wandering around in London, and was ecstatic to find this floral-printed rickshaw (especially as I had heard about these and was keeping an eye out for these). There’s several customised by various well-known designers carefully placed in spots around London (or have been, for the last two months, I’m not sure they’re still there!)

The rickshaws were designers and put forward by the Travels to My Elephant campaign, which works to save and preserve elephants, their habitats and generate awareness. You may remember the Faberge Eggs display a few years ago by the same organisation, this year they opted for lots of colourful elephant statues placed all over London, as well as these rickshaws.

Naturally after taking some pictures I took the chance to sit inside and make my husband pretend to drive the rickshaw like an old Indian Noir film (he refused to pretend to drive or pose, so I just did it by myself).

Did you see any of these around London?

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An Elephant at Waterloo

If you ever go to Waterloo Station, and come up the escalators, you may see this – a giant elephant wire structure created by artist Kendra Haste. I can’t remember the reason why there was an elephant installed here after it was bought by the London Underground (although I like some of these reasons) – although I’m glad there’s some funky art on the underground like this.

Here’s to an elephanty Monday, they may be big but they’re also magnificent, and they’re nice to peep at on the way to the station!

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Patchwork Baby Elephant Mondays

I saw these two little cuties, patchwork elephants which reminded me of Elmer the Elephant, +and also slightly a little like the hallucinations Dumbo has when he gets drunk – add some stuffing and beady eyes and you get these.  I would have loved to have bought these for one of the babies in the family (they probably would have tried to sit on these) but unfortunately they weren’t for sale, and I didn’t think I’d get away with running off with these.

Nevertheless I can add this to the list of cute, quirky animals that I’ve seen (like these cute giraffes) and will be keeping an eye out for some more cutie patooties like these.

Happy Mondays!

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Quirky Elephants, Tea Parties and Poodles

These beautiful papers belong to my niece, but I couldn’t help taking a few pictures of them to post because I though they looked amazing. I love the bright quirky drawings, the mix of colours with uncoloured black and white, and the cute characters (like the expression of the owls!)

I think this would make amazing craft paper, for some pretty cards or stationary, or even as inspiration for for anything crafty! Personally, I’d see this as inspiration for for drawing animation and comics (although I’m not sure where cute poodles and owls come into comics, but still!)

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Michael Summer’s Surreal Animal Art

Michael Summer‘s beautiful, surreal art is vivid, colourful and almost wacky – I love every single one of his beautiful pieces, particularly with the mix of grey-scale with vivid colour, literally dripping onto the animals. There is something very playful and beautiful about each picture, which draws your eye and also adds character to each animal (I love the almost-bored tigers and the curious penguins!)

Some of these pieces (such as the first one) are huge murals on walls, which has been done by the artist in various places – I would love one to be local to me but unfortunately the artist appears to be based in California so that won’t be happening anytime soon!

You can see more of his work here – the plus side is, I may not see the real-life murals but I can still get a t-shirt with the rainbow and the penguins on it!

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We Love Miniatures <3: Teeny Tiny Knitted Amigurumi Animals

I’ve recently discovered the Japanese art of Amigurumi, which is basically teeny tiny knitted or crocheted animals, which look adorable and very exquistely made. I found this seller on Etsy who sells some beautiful knitted animals (they’re not cheap though, at around £30 -60 per tiny knitted animal loveliness), and these are just a few of the animals I want in my imaginary dollhouse-slash-ark. Along with the mini Cookie Monster, ‘kay?

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8Images belong to Su Ami