≡ Menu

On Being an Ersatz Oligarch

A snap of the fingers and a tom yang soup appears…

Lost villages

the "lost village"

The lost village of Acebuchal On January 13 it was warm enough to be eating lunch dressed in a tee shirt up in the mountains of Andalusia and while waiting for my thick potato and rib soup to cool a little I experienced a sharp feeling of deja-vu. potato and rib soup with chickpeas Sebastian’s […] Read more

Blackened Beanfields

Droughts happen, floods happen, but this was also the year that had thrown up the Covid plague. The world had changed within the seasons

The marmalade of my youth

“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade…” (D.H. Lawrence) The little marmalade, aka lemon, tree. In the garden (in truth a pocket handkerchief sized plot) of the very first house my parents built and owned, my mother planted a miniature orange tree- Calamondin according to a […] Read more

Some years ago in more carefree times I was drinking coffee and enjoying an olive oil bread roll made by Hafiz, the original owner of the Magic cafe. The Magic Cafe Two women (one wearing a turquoise headscarf) Eat cake, drink coffee With silent relish. A small reward, so innocent, at the end of a […] Read more

Vikram Seth at home 28 years ago THE SUITABLE BOY COMES HOME reads the headline “Vikram Seth’s book has universal appeal with its many levels and versatile use of language” The Pioneer Book page of January 27, 1993 Nearly thirty years ago I was a columnist for the Pioneer newspaper in India. I wrote a […] Read more

The cog in the machine

This is not me bragging, but my entire life has skipped by with hardly an aspirin or at the most a paracetemol slipping down my gullet. Admittedly, there were the times I was laid low by Delhi belly, chicken pox in my thirties, a little breakdown after my divorce when I flushed the anti-depressants down […] Read more

The gang from Kampos

As soon as the last visitors drive away to the airport in Kalamata- winding through the craggy mountain landscape with its olive groves and villages garlanded with pomegranate trees studded with scarlet fruit- the gang from Kampos descends to the shoreline to harvest its abundance for the household supply of oil. Dora and Ionnis from […] 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

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 and arms making an airbag for the precious […] 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

Post-Lockdown, a bit dated perhaps but not much

Do we mourn the demise of engines of commercial engagement, their cogs and wheels grinding via esoteric systems that busily serviced what passed for the city’s culture? Oxford’s three or four theatres, the beloved Phoenix Picture Palace, Holywell Music Room, Sheldonian and St John the Evangelist musical venues plus the familiar shops and eating houses- […] Read more

Paradise Regained

The custard-cream church Kardymili This year is the eighth time I have been in Kardymili since I published my first post in November 2013, so I had to stop at the village church to pay homage and be blessed by the sung Orthodox liturgy. I’d parked the rusty old bike outside, the same bike I […] Read more

University Parks

Two park benches commemorating deceased “lovers of the Parks” simply CHOLMONDLEY, pronounced “Chumley” Some people walk or jog, or walk their dogs, at the same time every day. You see ancient dons in their old tweed jackets often talking to themselves, shuffling on scuffed soles, or well-off retirees taking their post prandial stroll, or immensely […] Read more