Are you getting into the Holiday spirit? I am but just a little bit. When did I become so cynical? I suspect it was when I realised I didn’t need to drag on these feelings of cheer until one particular day. I could exhaust all of it the morning of, right before I saw my presents under a tree. It was fake, of course. The tree was. Right after my parents would break the news that we could only open them AFTER church. Try getting children to listen and respond to church things after that. “Are you putting on your shoes? I see just one shoe. Where is your sister? GET AWAY FROM THE PRESENTS.”…
Before elections in India, local politicians will go around with their contractors spot-fixing roads, drains, bribing locals with modern conveniences and money and more recently – as is the trend – building pavements along the side of the road which never seem to be 100% complete. Haste makes waste and all that. Everyone knows the game and why its being played. Votes. That heady mixture of cynicism and concern was one of my favourite things to witness when I was younger. My parents would never tell us whom they voted for and just like “they are all crooks*”, the secret ballot stayed a secret. As a child, I was so annoyed by this. I appreciate this lesson in suspense more as an adult. Not only did it keep the mystery alive, it allowed me to form an opinion of my own on who I thought would best serve my constituency….
Hello from November where I’m going to tell you about the weather because it’s 18 degrees Celsius which is 65 in Fahrenheit (yay/nay?). This is not normal but neither is the Cubs winning the World Series but they did it last night!!! All you science haters (how is this even real) can blame them. The other reasons for the myth of climate change cannot be worse. Holding up a ball of snow? Check….
*Eight-minute egg or what happens when you don’t pay attention to the timer.
Yesterday, I came *this* close to being in Goa again. Being near a package sent to me by my family through a friend visiting/working in Seattle for a week was my escape and even though I’m not literally there, I can breathe the curry patta (leaves) that grow from my neighbour’s compound to our top floor balcony and drop a red chilli in hot oil whenever I feel low. The homesickness has been on the uptick lately. This is the time of the year when I have a plane ticket and I’m all prepared to say “See you sucker,” to the winter. That’s not on the list this year and so, packages of dried food with amazing labels made my mother will do. They are so professional. Airport customs has nothing on her….
If I had read this book four years ago, I don’t know if I would have had the same reaction to it as I’m having now. I was still on the cusp of figuring out what I was going to be feeding myself after eating with solely Indian ingredients until then. I was a brand new immigrant, confused at all the options at grocery store and desperate for chicken with bones and vegetables I didn’t have to bag individually each time I picked them out. I was more insecure, easily led by trends and irritated by them deep down inside. I was doubtful of my ability to cook myself three meals while I waited in an apartment for my greencard and the subsequent opportunity to work it would come with. I was depressed. I used to be a journalist before the move. I wrote, edited stories by other reporters, designed page layouts and I had friends I could meet and speak the colloquial English I grew up with. I wanted to feel whole again….
You know you come here for the writing. I know I come here for the same thing. What if I flipped the script today? It would be the best day to do that, I think. I came back from a doctor’s appointment this morning and my sprained thumb is almost back to normal. Yes. Then my computer wouldn’t turn on. It has been acting buggy all week. It’s like someone knew I had these big plans to write but instead I got crabby and hungry and made myself some potatoes. Two eggs on top, please….
Of all the things I thought I knew about myself, my getting offended by caterpillars on the beetroot seedlings I placed in recycled buckets of honey is a revelation to me. Note that I didn’t call them “honey buckets” lest you mistake one of my and a lot of people’s hobbies for a gardening fetish. I see these little green things crawl along the rib of the biggest green leaf on this baby plant and I think “you piece of shit”. Ironically. All of these emotions come as a huge surprise to me. I am the type of woman that considers herself a nature warrior deep in my heart. I get giddy over leaves and patterns I see on hikes. I eat all my vegetables happily and ask for seconds. Cursing at camouflaged bugs – I am learning a new side of me.
It takes a second to step back from the expectations I have as a gardener. I call myself one but with humility because as many online forums as I’ve scoured, I still can’t make the squirrels not dig plants out of the ground twice a year. They have to eat. And avoid getting hit by cars! I just have to pretend I know what I’m doing and then walk to a grocery store if it doesn’t work out.
As prime gardening season comes to a close, I’d like to tell you that I have a whole new bunch of tricks up my sleeve this time. A favourite motto has always been along the lines of “live and let live”. I put seeds in the well-fed ground, feed the plants that come out of them and hope for the best. There is always so much to learn. So I went out with a small piece of paper and lifted the miniscule caterpillar off the tiny little leaves. I covered the seedlings with one-pint containers that held cherry tomatoes not so long ago. Dig around squirrels. The course nature takes through us and all of its little ones is a lesson in patience. The beets are doing fine. It’s my dogs that are now eating the carrots.
There are very few things that I miss about home more than afternoon tea-time. Few things fill the spaces in our day better than this humble beverage. What was once an ideal way to break the monotony of a day job has become a symbol (to me, at least) of what it means to yearn for home. Ironic since it’s a ritual and trade left behind by our former white imperialist rulers (Hi Britain, I’m talking about you)….
Food is a funny thing. I used Peruvian anchovies in an Italian style recipe made by an Indian with cooking skills strongly influenced by Indo-Portuguese traditions from the state of Goa. We are diverse, but there is something that ties us traditional coastal dwellers together. We eat fish – lots of it – and we shut shop for afternoon siesta. This isn’t an invitation to stereotype. Just observe. We love fresh, briny, vinegar-y things with spice. Sometimes all together, sometimes not. We all have a “person”, from whom we get the best fish and that will be our person for life. We sunbathe our seafood on the side of hot asphalt village roads and we pickle it in jars to eat all through the monsoon. I’m going to make this my own someday but for now, here’s a close second of all those flavours that sit on my palate and hit all the right notes in my amygdala. It reminds me of my longing for the ocean and the balmy days I was close to it. One bite and I can’t help but cry….
Here’s what I have to tell you as a blogger who loves food enough to make photos of it and write down a recipe for a post exactly like the one you’re reading right now. Ready? Okay. You don’t need props or the latest wooden utensils. You don’t need to learn Snap Chat. Really. I tried it for a week this year and a week last year and while I had a blast using all the filters (mostly being SIA), I think it’s okay to have a one or zero-dimensional social media presence….