Tag Archives: origami

Christmas Eve in Vienna

Today, it was Christmas! You can check the title again if you want… In Austria, Christmas is celebrated on the evening of the 24th and people often have a pretty ordinary day at work before going home to Christmas in the evening.

We started the day by going for brunch at 12 Munchies, an American/British cafe in a nearby district. We took the tram there. Inside the cafe there was a mix of furniture as well as interesting things on the walls and on the shelves at the back of the cafe. Aimee pointed out two tablet blister packs which had been put in a frame. There was also a box of books for kids – Lisi and I found Walter while a child on the table next to us read a book in French about the green cross code.


As for the food, I am reliably informed that the coffee was good, though I’m not a coffee drinker myself. I had a lovely hot chocolate – I should have really ordered a large one though as the small one was really small! We started with sandwiches and bread. I had a roast beef sandwich and a small tomato bread, while Aimee and Lisi had sandwiches with pecorino as well. For dessert there was pecan pie and raspberry buttermilk muffins, which were tall and thin and very soft – full of real raspberries.

The cafe was very busy, with lots of people coming and going, dodging in and out of the furniture or sitting around looking achingly cool. Lisi spotted that all the people wearing glasses were all wearing the same glasses… even the kids. Once you’ve seen that you can’t unsee it. Happily Lisi and Aimee weren’t in the same-specs club, though Aimee did say she had a pair like them at home.

As well as being a cafe, 12 Munchies also proclaims that it sells “Britwurst” (as opposed to Bratwurst) and we picked some up for Christmas dinner tomorrow, along with some bacon.


Back outside in the extremely windy fresh air, we headed up the hill towards Tuerkenschanz Park where there was a small Christmas market.



In this one all the sheds were painted red. Most of the stalls sort of looked like charity shops – one notable object for sale being a plastic Psy dancing Gangnam Style – but we all bought something from a stall selling various flavours of schnapps and jam.



After the market, Aimee went home with the frozen food and Lisi and I continued to the food co-op. On the way there I spotted a very old-fashioned looking shop, which Lisi said was always closed… except today! We went inside and found lots of toys and games, as well as a lot of wooden kitchenware and baskets. Everything seemed really cheap but nicely made. Lisi bought a nutcracker as she and Aimee had been given a bag of walnuts by Gudrun, their neighbour. The was really looking forward to cracking them with her new nutcracker.






We spent quite a long time looking around the shop – complete with old fashioned till – and then moved on to the food co-op. I had expected just vegetables and fruit, but the co-op also sources beer, wine, juices, dairy products, meat… there was a lot there. It operates on an honesty system, where you pre-order what you would like. Funds are then transferred into the co-op’s account online. You keep track of your purchases on a sheet, and top-up your account when you need to. Some products are not pre-ordered, and you can take what you like from those, adding them to your account. We got everything which Aimee and Lisi had ordered, except for eggs.



In the not-ordered section, there was fruit juice, wine and chocolate made by Zotter, a well known Austrian make. Lisi and I spent a long time opening all the cardboard boxes and making our choices. Some of the bars were for presents, and I also picked up some drinking chocolate. There are many, many flavours available, and lots of unusual combinations. We totted up our totals and Lisi filled in the account book, then it was time for home.


When we got back we were really pleased to finally get out of the wind!


After some tea and chocolate sampling, we had a game of Settlers of Catan – a game that Aimee does not dislike, despite not being a big board game fan. I have only played it a couple of times, but we ended up having a really good battle with Lisi winning a turn before I was able to! After that, Aimee cooked while Lisi and I kept her company in the kitchen, providing sous-chef assistance when required, and otherwise doing origami. I started making a little string of “Pop-up jewels” in different colours, and Lisi did some more artistic models – including a pig.


Aimee’s paneer curry was lovely, and after we had eaten we brought the Christmas tree through to the living room and gathered around for gift exchanging. Afterwards we watched the Snowman. If you haven’t seen it…here it is with an introduction by David Bowie, which Lisi hadn’t seen before.

In return, we watched Dinner for One, a sketch which is always shown at New Year here. You can watch it below…

We enjoyed some quince schnapps and the Tokaj that Aimee and and I had brought back from Hungary. Then it was time for bed!


Dimpled Model with Curls and Colour Change

This model was designed my Meenakshi Mukerji and appears in her book Exquisite Modular Origami.

I had previously made this model without the colour change, but having been on a jaunt to Hobbycraft with Caroline I had a lovely pack of coloured/white paper to try out. With a rainbow to choose from, I went for black. There was method to the madness though, as I thought the bold stripes in the model would look very striking in black and white.

Adding the colour change element only took two extra folds, and I completed the 30 unit model over several days, this time assembling as I went along.


The inverted sections mean that the modules hold together really well…which in turn makes fiddling the last few in tricky, but I got there without glue.


The finished model is about 10ins in diameter when folded with 5ins square paper.


The Night of the Doctor

After the usual morning routine and lunch, I spent some time writing and doing some origami, taking a look at Sellappan’s dad’s coin and stamp collections (British and American) and watching TV.

At about 4pm The Doctor¹ called to take me to meet his friends and family. First we flew the TARDIS² across town to Ragu’s place (another of Sellappan’s many friends). Ragu is the MD of a rice mill on the edge of town, and is a big fan of green technology. His house water is actually rainwater collected on the roof (though it very rarely rains, when it does it pours) and is powered by solar panels (now this, I can definitely see!) also on the roof. He also rents a second place with similar technology installed. As an added bonus the 360 degree view from his roof comprises the hills of Salem, lots of greenery and the rice mill itself. After meeting Ragu’s lovely family and having snacks and tea we looked through his wedding album, much to the Doctor’s amusement.

Next we went to the Doctor’s place and I met his family, and his tenants³ and we had yet more snacks and tea. Vijay’s mam asked me about my lack of jewellery and showed me her wedding jewellery which she always wore. She wears a necklace and silver rings on both feet every day. She also asked me how often I went to church and showed me the house’s puja room and lit some incense for the gods. Vijay’s parents were both maths teachers before they retired, and his mam was keen to learn some origami.

Vijay, his wife and his mam made a lotus flower each, after I had made a talking crow for Vijay’s son, who has tons of energy. He is top of his class in abacus and drawing, and loves animals just as much as his vet parents do. He also treated us to a dance show with his friend – another of his passions.

After the dancing I took the chance to teach a couple of ceilidh moves to the assembled family, with poor Vijay volunteering to help. I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoyed that, just judging by the giggling. I also learned some more Tamil words and phrases from Vijay, who was a keen teacher. Watch out Sellappan is all I can say…

Vijay’s wife was feeling tired, so rather than eating at home we went out for dinner, and I had the spiciest dosa I’ve had so far, as well as French onion soup which was packed with chilli powder. The TARDIS materialised again back home, though a few hours later than when we had set off.

¹ Sellappan’s friend Vijay, Casper’s vet. Sellappan calls him Doctor.
² He drove the Honda Civic.
³ Pun forcibly inserted, Whovians.

Time flies, and so does a paper plane.

After a leisurely start, Saranya’s friend Sudha came over for a little while. She was very keen to learn some origami, so we made some sonobe units and linked them up in various combinations until we made a 12-piece ball. We also looked at other kusudamas online, and the traditional flower one was quickly established as a firm favourite. Sudha promised to come back the next day, bringing paper to make it.

We all headed into town on a special mission for one of my friends, who after having seen the movie Lunchbox put in a special request for a stainless steel stack of boxes. These boxes are brilliant, and I saw them in action at Sellappan’s office. They come in stacks of up to five, and in any size you need. They are secured together with a clip on each side, and you can stack and unstack them easily.

The destination was the Shevapet area, which specialises in metalwork. I went to the shop with Saranya, Sudha and Sellappan’s mam, who held the entire place under control with terrifying product knowledge, eye for quality and price sense. In this store you can walk right to the back room, which is ten feet high and absolutely jammed with every stainless-steel kitchen item you can imagine. Almost every single piece of kitchenware and tableware I have seen is made of stainless steel, from pans to plates. This means that there are shops upon shops that gleam blindingly in the sunlight. The effect of all that silverware in one place is like a giant fairground mirror, and reflects all the hustle and bustle of the street.


Mission accomplished, we came back home. I made some origami lotus flowers, and soon it was time for Saranya’s tutees to arrive. The little ones zoomed past me, because I’m very scary. In time some of the older students stopped being so shy. I kept making my origami, until one girl came to teach me some Tamil. She listed lots of nouns, including parts of the body. In exchange I taught her Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. The staple of any language classroom. We sang it in Tamil and in English.

Slowly a few more of the girls came and we made some origami together. They went home with some lotus flowers of their own. The boys stayed very much hidden until one came and showed me a paper plane. Naturally I made one in response and he examined my version with a critical eye before deeming it good enough to keep.

Sellappan’s mam was interested in learning the lotus flower, so we made some more of those together. There is now a small origami display in the living room with our creations in it. Dinner was chapatti and gravy. The day went very quickly, and I certainly got through a lot of origami paper!

Indian Takeaway

Predictably after the late night, the 6am alarm call was severely unwelcome. After a quick phone call it was agreed that we would be better off going tomorrow. We caught up on some sleep after the late night instead, and decided brunch would be best done by takeaway.

We went to a Chinese restaurant and grabbed some rice and a cauliflower dish. And I went to Kowshalya’s place to spend the afternoon. I ate my brunch and as soon as I finished Kowshalya brought out yesterday’s unfinished origami ball, and asked if I had any music with me. I did have some, so we listened to that for a while, and we finished the assembly of the ball.

Kowshalya went immediately back to the book and selected “daffodils” as our next challenge. The unit was a bit simpler and we were really into the rhythm of it, so 30 units went by in about 90 minutes as we listened to some Tamil songs. We began the assembly of the ball and finished it fairly fast too. Just as we were finishing off 12 units for another model, Mohan came home. We watched some TV which was a recreation of a famous wise man’s life. It was very dramatic with lots of reaction shots and spectacular costumes.

Once Sellappan got back we went to the Tibetan Mall, which was full of discount clothing stores and was just about to close, which advanced our dinner plans. I experimented with the familiar butter chicken with garlic naan, something I would often order at a takeaway at home. The naan was much thinner and even a little crispy, and the butter chicken tasted extremely buttery, even more so than at home. I dread to think how much butter is in it actually. I also tried some new gravy dishes, and apam which is a spiderweb-thin construction made of rice flour, cooked in a hot pan and swirled around to make a bowl shape. You can also get them with eggs in the bottom.

Dessert was found in an ice cream parlour making natural flavours,  mainly from fruit. I tried a fruit that I hadn’t even heard of before: the jackfruit. It was really nice in the ice cream, sort of like mango and peach but a little citrus too. The flesh of the fruit is orange, but the outside is green and spiny a bit like a pineapple, and I’ve seen ones being sold at the roadside the size of footballs.

The last food item on the menu was sweet paan. I’d only heard paan in the book The White Tiger, and it was described as something that you chew and spit out. This sweet paan was actually a leaf or two which wrapped something with an incredibly powerful perfume and mint flavour, and there was no way I could have it all at once. I took a small bite and it was so overpowering it came straight back out, much to the amusement of every one else!

At least we got to sleep at around midnight, ready for the second go at the gardens!

Origami and Omelettes

As Sellappan was at work today, I spent the day with Kowshalya at her house. We have fairly little common language, so it wasn’t an especially chatty day, but we had lots of fun anyway!

She had prepared lunch when we arrived which was brinjal curry with rice, of course it was very tasty. After lunch I suggested we do some origami. We made the talking crow first and Kowshalya enjoyed it, and suggested we make some other models. I have forgotten a lot of the artistic models, so instead we made some sonobe units in different colours, three first to make the pop-up jewel, then three more to make a cube.

Kowshalya had a voracious appetite for modular origami so we went straight onto the twelve-unit multiplex challenge. After that I had to turn to my book for some more modular instructions. We spent the rest of the afternoon making the “dimpled model with curls” which is a 30-unit job, with a fairly complicated unit. We listened to some music too, Kowshalya was treated to some of the choir music I had with me.India 2014 (131)

We were only about halfway through the assembly when Mohan arrived home from work. He asked about plans for the rest of my time in India and when I told him about temple visits and he shared pictures from his temple visits with friends and family. He also showed his wedding photos which were amazing to me – 3500 people had attended his and Kowshalya’s wedding, which composed around a 36h programme, starting with a reception and ending with the ceremony itself, with many traditions to be fulfilled throughout the day.

Sellappan came back and we decided to do some “fusion cooking”. We all went to the supermarket around the corner to get the ingredients for tortilla española. The choice of spices, pulses and grains was enormous, and luckily there was a tiny section for herbs too. We went back to the house and prepared the Spanish omelette. Mohan asked if I had ever tried kulfi, which I hadn’t. While we cooked, he and Kowshalya popped out and got some for us to have. Kulfi is pretty similar to ice cream but without the air. The closest comparison is probably Mini Milk lollies. The flavour we had was almost identical to the taste of Scottish tablet, very fudgy like sweetened condensed milk. The kulfi came either in cone shapes on sticks, or in tiny mud pots with a stick to eat them with. You get a small egg-sized portion of kulfi in a pot. I’m looking forward to trying different kinds…

While we were finishing the kulfi, the omelette finished cooking. Along with the omelette we had some fried rice with herbs and lime (Sellappan’s creation) and some of the brindjal left over from yesterday. The combination was really good, though Kowshalya wasn’t having eggs she tried some, and Mohan went back for seconds so he definitely liked it.

India 2014 (139)India 2014 (141)

We made plans to visit Lalbagh gardens early in the morning before work, but ended up having a late night anyway.

Star Sonobe by Maria Sinayskaya

This model was fairly quick and easy to complete, for a 30-unit construction. I completed this in about 4 hours, just watching TV and relaxing. I found the instructions and a tutorial on Go Origami, a new site for me. There are lots of other appealing ideas on there too so I’m sure there’ll be another visit!

I folded the 30 units on coloured/white paper in three different colours. The first few units suffered from a strange lack of symmetry at the stage above, but leaving a 1mm or so gap at the centre of the square when performing the first two folds seemed to solve it. Perhaps it had something to do with the thickness of my paper.


I found that a tiny triangle created by the last few folds stuck out of the model and created a less pleasing finish. I decided to reverse the triangles and tuck them in out of the way to get a neater end product.


As always, making the units took most of the time. The units are based on the sonobe unit which I have used many times before for other models. The sonobe units have similar structures and are very quick and simple to fold. The difference for this module is in the coloured stripes that make up each edge of the unit, creating a woven effect around the stars on the assembled model.

This might also be the model with the most pleasing inside I’ve ever seen!

This one was assembled without glue, and holds together neatly without it.

I think it would be very nice with dual-coloured paper. The finished model is about three inches in diameter and was made with squares of three inches.