Halloween Kitty, and inside a haunted French castle



Halloween is sneaking in closely! It’s time to be thinking of scary pumpkin heads, witches on brooms, bats and other ghouls. Here is something fun and cute that I’ve made. Always a big fan of cat art, here’s my Halloween Kitty, framed in a box frame so that the shadows can be enjoyed.

This Halloween Kitty has been hand drawn and hand cut. Would you like to have this design, and cut it out yourself? Yes you can! This art is available as a template, all you need to do is take a print out, get ready with your scalpel and cut away! You too can put it in a shadow box, or just stick it to cardstock and give it to someone special on the day of Halloween! Here she is before I spray painted her black. Do you like it black or white?


Look at this gorgeous castle below… It’s deserted for many years… Haunted? I think so!


This is the second time I am entering a deserted premise by the way! And with all those overgrown weeds, I was very careful not to go stepping accidentally over ‘l’ortie’ ( stinging nettle in French)


Such deserted castles or old monuments can be found plenty around France. My husband and I, while on a stroll, found this beauty somewhere around L’isle Adam, an elite French neighborhood, 30 kms north east of Paris.

Alas! The secrets of this castle are only enjoyed by squatters now..




A piano that has seen much better days.


I can imagine this foyer at one time a resplendant place, welcoming, warm, and people walking to and fro the different rooms.


This staircase walked up and down by an absent minded homemaker, realizing too late that it’s raining and the windows upstairs need to be shut..


Pitter-patter, pitter-patter go footsteps silently in the dead of night


I hope you enjoy looking down staircases as much as I do..


What is this cage like structure? A medieval torture device? Nooo…. Any guesses? It’s for holding wine bottles.


Whew! Am I glad it’s a sunny day out! Shakes away some of the cobwebs in my head!


Whoops, a skeleton car just pulls in!! Nah, just joking! This hilarious car advert is something I had seen at the Shiphol Airport in Amsterdam.


Have you been totally spooked out by the haunted castle? If you want to read something similar, click here, of a trip into a haunted and deserted hotel I walked into, in Darjeeling, India.

Halloween Kitty up close to let you know how spooky things are going to get!🙂


If you like my art and want to support it, buy my art prints or templates at Etsy, or forward it to someone you think might enjoy it!

Sketches of an Indian Goddess, and Maison de l’Inde


Here is Goddess Durga, beloved to Bengalis of India. Every October has a week long celebration dedicated to her.

Here are some simple and quick sketches I had made in 2015, depicting her as a young girl. In this sketch above, I have her holding a Shiuli flower, a delicately shaped, small and fragrant flower. The shiuli plant starts to flower around October in India, hence this flower is strongly associated with the celebrations of Goddess Durga.


Goddess Durga reposing in a lotus flower


If you see showers of stars across the sky, you will know Goddess Durga is in a playful mood


Beautiful flowery swing

Today I attended the seventh day of the Durga Puja celebrations in Maison de l’Inde, located within the campus grounds of Cité Université, in Paris. If you walk inside, and walk up the first floor, you enter a big room where the celebrations are held year after year in this very room. I asked some of the senior Bengalis around the room how long has Durga Puja been celebrated in Paris? ‘Since the last 30 years’ I receive the reply.


I can tell you that the ladies you see seated close to the idols, wearing saris, these ladies work hard year after year to produce equally beautiful, and as authentic Durga Pujas as Bengalis have it back home. They constantly move around making sure everyone is OK and enjoying themselves. One more thing : ANYONE can enter this place for free. There is no charge, or any kind of obligation to pay. I see many curious visitors, French and other nationalities coming in here, and usually enjoying themselves, admiring the colorful saris, and the relaxed atmosphere. In the evenings, there are usually traditional dances, or Bengali songs sung, that lend to a very cultural atmosphere.



Nom Nom! This is called ‘bhog’. It’s not the name of a recipe. It’s the term used for food that is prepared for lunch time, during the days of Durga Puja, at the place of worship itself. Here at the Maison de l’Inde, yes, ANYONE can just come in and have this plate of heaven. Bhog is always vegetarian food.


I had the opportunity to watch this Bengali gentleman, an active participant of the Durga Puja, make pulao, in this rice cooker. ( It was a great chance for me to finally learn the recipe myself!)


Rice, butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and rasins. And of course, finally add water that is double the quantity of rice, and shut the lid and let it cook about 15 minutes.


Everyone busy eating the plastic containers distributed that had the cut fruits ( pieces of apple, banana, pomegranate, grapes, halwa) to everyone.


Here is the Shiuli flower again, just making sure you remember that sweet little flower!🙂 And here is my papercut Butterfly Girl, surrounded by shiulis.


If you have liked this post, and would like to support my work, buy my art prints and framed papercut art at Etsy, or forward this post to someone you think would like it!



Here’s a little artwork I had made yesterday. It is my little tribute to the great movie director, Satyajit Ray who had his birthday on May the 2nd. He was born 1921, and he received an Oscar award for lifetime achievement. In this sketch, I have merged two of his best movies, Charulata and Mahanagar. Both have the actress Madhabi Mukherjee play a pivotal role. The dialogue is from Mahanagar, where Madhabi’s work colleague asks why she doesn’t use a red lipstick. The visual is from Charulata, where Madhabi plays a lonely housewife who entertains herself by uses her binoculars to spy at people down the street.

Calcutta sketches – my grandaunt


What’s this art about? Here’s one of my quick under-an-hour sketch that I made of my grandaunt. Well, the time taken for sketching was shorter because she was watching TV and unable to stay still for long. The flouncy pillow behind her adds to her cute feminity. Psst…little added info on her : she loves wearing lipstick everyday!

What did she say when she saw herself?..


Nothing. She just gave a genuine pleased smile, which made me happy. Here she is holding a big plate of sun dried cauliflowers which she is preparing to make pickles of, a big favorite in the family.


Steaming hot cauliflowers, anyone?!


Calcutta sketches : Morning prayers


What’s this art about? It’s a classroom somewhere in India and morning prayers are being held in the class. This is a little unusual, because morning prayers are usually done in the wide courtyard or in a big room that fits all of the school together. My art was inspired by a photo from the local newspaper where the students of each class prayed for the children who died in the Peshawar shooting (by the Taliban). There was a big gap in the second aisle so I decided to fill in the gap with the figure of a teacher standing. The figure is me actually in my Indian attire of salwar kameez, and my big glasses do make me look strict like a teacher🙂 .


A snapshot of happy smiling faces of schoolchildren in India.


Calcutta sketches : Stories within storeys

It’s been such a while that I paid serious attention to improving my sketching skills.. The last two months I spent in Calcutta, I tried to get some time off from looking after baby T to spending some time with my pen and artbook.  Here’s just a very few that I (miraculously) managed to get done. My aim during the sketches was to complete them in a time gap of under an hour. This was to help get me started with my sketches instead of getting bogged down under too many details of the work. Here’s one work for today.


What’s this art about? I live in a residential community block in Calcutta, where big blocks of building are squeezed next to each other, with a garden and a playing ground in the center. When I look out of my window, I only see these tall buildings all around. So many people with so many stories taking place in these apartments. The day I drew this, something horrific had taken place in one such building. A woman died. She committed suicide by lighting herself on fire. I felt quite sad to hear the story. I have no idea what made her take such an extreme step, but she must have been in deep pain. I added her in my artwork as a way to let myself remember her. The title of this sketch is ‘Stories within storeys’.


10 things I didn’t know about being a new Mother


The nine months that led to the big event… not just the birth of a healthy baby but the birth of a Mother!!! Oh, and not to forget, … a Father!🙂 The last few months before the big event had me getting very creative. From stitching curtains to making birth announcement cards, and this little embroidery of my baby swimming inside of me.

I’ve had sweet cravings all throughout…


And cravings for momos..


I had gifts coming in even before my little one was born. Here’s a gift from a lovely person who’s gesture touched me a lot even though I have never met her or know her well.. She’s the lovely Angela and you can check out her beautiful blog on creativity here at Pretty Little Things in a Box.


Here are some things that I DID NOT know .. at all… about being a new mother… I think I may not be the only one who stayed in the dark for so long..! Here’s a list of some very important things I learnt in my initial journey as a new mother right after delivery.

1. Colostrum, what is it? Until the day I delivered, I was under the impression that my breasts would produce milk right after the baby was born, or at the most, delivery of the placenta. I discovered that for two to three days following delivery, there is NO milk, rather a waxy substance secreted from the nipples. This is called colostrum, and they are Extremely good for the baby (absolutely nothing can replace the goodness of colostrum). I was almost sad for my baby that there was no milk, but the nurses educated me about colostrum and how good it is for the baby. The baby will also lose weight the first 3-4 days, this is completely normal, after which there will be a steady weight gain.

2. Seriously frequent feedings : The first two months is probably the most strenuous. That’s because baby needs to be fed almost every TWO hours, yes, both day and night! At night, the baby would sleep perhaps at a stretch of four and half to five hours before waking up for feeding. Up until today, I have always maintained a record of his feeding times, and when I look back at the journal of the first two months, I see about 10-12 feedings per 24 hours. This exhausting feeding routine took a huge toll on my already frail body after delivery. Especially poor posture during feeding makes things worse. My knees and my feet were so stiff, I thought I’d break them if I fell. Luckily my Mom arrived at that dark hour, so if you too need help please do not feel shy and ask the help of anyone who could be with you physically all the time during this period. You will need help mostly for the cooking. Not only does your body need to be well nourished for the milk you will be producing for your baby, but you need the nourishment yourself get strength.

Here’s what my record looked like. I would record the feeding times, the diaper changes and even sleep and bath. Gradually over time, I only recorded the feeding times. There are days when the exhaustion and sleep deprivation can get to you and you just can’t remember feeding details, so it’s always helpful to note them down.

feeding routine

2. Burping baby : Do Not Forget to burp your baby!! Whether breastfed or bottle fed, the baby needs to be burped. I was not aware of this, I hadn’t even come across it in the famous baby book, ‘What to Expect when you are Expecting’ that I had been reading religiously during my last few months of pregnancy. Trapped air in the tummy leads to discomfort that can hurt the baby a lot. I even read that poor uneducated mothers in India often lose their newborns due to not burping them after feeding.

3. GER : Babies should be held upright for sometime after feeding. GER, or  Gastroesophageal Reflux is a case that all newborn babies have. What is the GER about? As adults, we have a muscle located at the top of the esophagus, and this muscles ‘closes’ or contracts after we have eaten or drunk, hence preventing food from sliding out from the esophagal tube. This muscle is not developed yet in babies, which leads to babies vomiting out all the milk he has drunk. In order to avoid this, the best is to burp the baby and to hold him upright for as many minutes possible after feeding. Before being aware of this, I have actually seen my baby vomiting out huge sharp jets of milk, at one point almost coming out from the nose as well. Not only does this motion hurt him, but it’s also a good waste of milk. GER is painful for babies, so please look out for signs of babies gulping as this would mean they are trying to swallow back the milk that rises to their throat.


4. Respect night hours : Having read a lot about ‘nappy rashes’ and how painful they can be to babies, I was very particular about changing diapers frequently, almost becoming a little manic about it. Here’s what I learnt soon : you can change the diapers as frequently during the day time when baby is awake but you should stop at night… UNLESS you are sure baby has pooped then you have no choice but to change it. Ideally, diaper changes should be done every 4-5 hours during day hours. I make the last diaper changes around 7 or 8pm and I wait until the next morning around 6am, when baby is awake, to make the next diaper change. I learnt the hard way that diaper changes during night hours can disturb the baby’s cycle a lot. Babies get angry and you can expect some furious wailing and tears when taken to the changing station. It’s best not to change diapers at night, period.

5. Socks for tiny hands : Babies have nails growing even when they are in the womb. A week after delivery, my baby was scraching his poor little face with his almost razor sharp nails. The nurses had advised me not to have them cut the first two months at least. Looking at those miniscule fingers and the fact that those fingers were always so active shaking and trembling, I would not have had any courage to use the baby clippers (yes, please do not use adult clippers!) on them. It is very important to wrap his little wrists with baby socks. That way no harm done to that precious face. Here’s him held by my Mom, notice the socks on his hands.


6. Baby bed : To co-sleep or not is the question. In India, it goes without discussion that babies sleep with their mothers on the bed. Dad will have to go find an alternative solution to the bed. Here, in France, I was actively discouraged from the very start to have my baby sleep next to me on the bed. The reasoning was that since babies are so fragile the mother may do a lot of damage if she rolls over her baby accidentally at night, given how exhausted she already is. Well this made sense to me. But yes, I did end up co-sleeping the first month and half. Looking back, I know my baby felt extremely reassured to have my body so close to him. But unfortunately, co-sleeping wasn’t working out for my comfort at all! I am  the kind of person who moves around a lot in bed, so having my tiny dot of a baby next to me was a big source of tension, I remained stiff and unmoving the whole night so as not to wake him up.

Well, a friend recommended me an excellent idea : the baby bed adjoined to the parent bed. This is how it looks like :


This way, parents are happy and so is baby! Please note: the baby bed has to be devoid of toys or objects! The toys placed in this photo were placed only for a pretty photo!  The bed has to be secured very very firmly to the parent bed, with zero risk of accident. I found this bed on the French equivalent of e-bay called Le Bon Coin, and it cost me a mere 30 euros. The bed should have a firm mattress, and no pillow (to avoid risk of suffocation). This bed made my life a whole lot simpler. I could move around in bed, and when feeding time approached, I would feed baby and then put him gently back into his bed. You can have a night lamp next to you with dim lighting when it comes to night feedings.


7. Sleeping on a pillow : If you have opted for the idea of a co-bed, here comes the next problem… something that all new parents seem to face. You’ve fed the baby, finally rocked him to sleep, all the while maintaining a stiff body posture so he doesn’t wake up, and then very carefully you lift the baby and walk across to his cot, you raise the baby and just about ready to gently plop him, when the tiniest fraction of hurry wakes up baby and he’s starts to wail… oh no, this means you have to start all over again, this is indeed a nightmare!

Against all contrary advice, I went ahead and opted for something that made my life much easier and I wished having thought of it earlier. When feeding the baby on my lap, I would place my baby on a big soft pillow. This is a special pillow that’s slightly bigger than him, and it’s almost flat. It’s basically an old pillow, and doesn’t have any fullness in it anymore. Once the feeding is done and baby has gone to sleep, all I had to do was gently lift the pillow and place it on the baby bed. The baby sleeps on the pillow all night. The gentle curves of the pillow would ensure that if baby brought his thumb to his mouth, the thumb would remain in place. Now, I know this would sound controversial, to have a baby sleeping on a pillow, but I used my judgement on this, I was 100 percent sure that my baby was safe, and I would suggest that you use your judgement on this too. I found using the pillow idea made my life much simpler when placing the baby back to his bed.


8. Breastfeeding techniques : Well, I wish I had read on my favorite book ‘What to Expect when you’re Expecting’ the specific way I could breastfeed along with the feeding positions a bit earlier. It was only in my third month that I got savvy on the best way to breastfeed. Please have a read below on the best way to breastfeed. The content of our milk, as the excerpt rightly says, is not uniform, and this can be noted the way baby suckles. There is a change from the first 5 minutes which is rapid suckling to a slower one. Even when you change breasts, the rapid suckle in the initial five minutes can be observed.

Feeding tech

As to the feeding position, the lying on the bed position wasn’t working out for me at all. Though relaxing initially, there’s a lot of tension involved later of how to change breasts. Trial and error method taught me the best position, that is sitting with legs crossed under me. I would have my soft big pillow on my lap with baby on it. Under each of my knee would be a cushion each to support the weight.

9. Sleep deprivation : Before my baby came along, I used to wonder what was the big fuss when new mothers would complain about not getting enough sleep. In my mind I brushed it off as mothers who weren’t organised enough or couldn’t take control of situations. I always thought everything would go almost as smooth as my normal life before. My ‘normal’ life before was where sleep featured dominantly in my daily life. Going to bed early was always important for me so I would get my good 9 hours of beauty sleep to tackle the next day. I would be the grouchiest person if I didn’t have enough sleep. Here’s the good news and bad news when baby comes along… the a baby changes totally your ‘normal’ daily life pattern. Not having enough sleep is amongst the many changes. Not getting 6 hours of straight sleep the first 3 months is absolutely normal. Welcome to the new normal!🙂 The good news? I don’t know if other mothers would agree with me, but right after having my baby all the way until now (my baby is over 6 months old) I feel my body doesn’t require as much sleep as before! Shocking considering how I used to be before! Somehow I don’t mind even if I’ve slept badly, or had just a few snatches of sleep. For my baby I am always smiling no matter how tired I am. I think this is probably fixed by Mother Nature herself, for mothers to be wired for no sleep once baby comes around. Having said that I do look forward for my baby to grow up quickly so I can get some longer hours of sleep!

10. Chapped nipples and stretch marks : I really doubt if there’s any cream invented yet that can really help remove stretch marks… I have tried several brands, famous and not, and I started them from my sixth month onwards to know that nothing works. It’s all in the genes. If your Mommy or Daddy had stretch marks, so will you. Yes, perhaps one can try and keep the skin area moisturised well enough but there’s no wonder cream that can 100 % be stretch-mark proof. There is better news for chapped nipples : The initial days of feeding a newborn can lead to nipples almost cracking which can hurt bad. I am sure there are several good creams out there, but I used Lansinoh, a British brand, and extremely safe and good. It can be applied even before feeding and there is no problem at all even if baby takes it in. It’s 100 % natural and hypoallergenic.

So there is my list, all the things I had no idea of, and I hope they can be of help to you new moms out there!🙂