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Giuseppe and his olive oil

Remember when restaurants started putting out a puddle of oil with a slick of balsamic and lots of bread for dipping while you looked at a menu? That added 700 calories before you’d even ordered, but hey, It was Mediterranean, it was fun, it was sophisticated! The oil could have been a metallic tasting Berio […] Read more

Mostly a Lament (for Kashmir)

Stricken by a passing lorry willow wands lie prostrate, un-feathered (green daggers loved by W. Morris) whipped off their tree forever.   Wading in a mountain torrent, avalanche of water biffing black rock gentling green eddies, spuming white depths, the wall-eyed Kashmiri ghillie tore strips off bendy willow branches, trussing trout brown slippery cold, tricked […] Read more

Dentists I have known

The white coat, the soothing tone, the plastic glass of antiseptic rinse, the long chair, the presence or absence of music, the masked attendant- the stuff of nightmares! Having just returned home after a lengthy session (painless, I must add and an almost pleasant experience in relation to the build-up of dread) I remembered the […] Read more

lollipop pink helmets

The tombs of the Lodi kings in Delhi Outrageous even for Delhi- a child riding a Vespa!Down the neem avenue next to dusty Afghan tombs flanked by Royal palms (stipulated by Lady Willingdon)A smaller child pillion riding, perky with new-oiled hairsquashed like mashed potatobetween paratha of driver and one other, a cushiony elder her hips […] Read more

sugarcane juice- a bedtime story

  Hamid thought the Central Bus Station was the best place in the world.  For him diesel fumes smelled better than evening jasmine. As for revving engines, they sounded sweeter than music. His heart thrilled to the hustle and bustle of street hawkers, the comings and goings of passengers. He saw people from every corner […] Read more

King of Fruits

The only redemption for the fiery furnace of Indian summers is the extravaganza of mangoes. Over 300 varieties of a seasonal treat that is, sadly, denied to diabetics because when ripe it is the sweetest fruit of all. The summers of my childhood are memories of prickly heat, afternoon naps under the fan, looking for […] Read more

Out of a man’s heart

The most important discovery I have made about cooking is this: how my dish turns out depends entirely on whom I’m cooking for. This puts me in the category of  amateur  cuisinière, because in my book a professional is another sort of creature altogether. The act of cooking is not about impressing X or Y […] Read more

My uncle, my auntie!

The closing scene of E.Nesbit’s Railway Children always chokes me. “Oh my Daddy,  my Daddy!” cries Roberta as her father- who has been in prison (falsely accused of spying for the Germans)- steps down to the station platform. I used to experience something close to that intense joy whenever my favourite uncle or aunt appeared […] Read more

Personal Trainer with Soul

I used to snobbishly think that gyms and workouts were for people who didn’t “get” real sport, or the joys of “natural” exercise like hiking and swimming. That is, until I was struck by an unnamed illness/malaise that left me nearly crippled and enfeebled for a year. It all started the day after I returned […] Read more

My mother’s carer

I have been with my 104 year old mother in Delhi. She  lies on her back suspended  between this life and the next. You could call it the waiting room to the next destination. Her face is beautiful as ever, skin luminous even though it is stretched tight. Her limbs are fragile as a bird […] Read more