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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

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

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

Mr D.Vasudeva, father of Keshav and grandfather of Siddhartha, founded the wholesale coffee business named Devans in 1962. In his day there was little more than a rough looking dusty godown, or shed, with gunny sacks of coffee berries which Mr Vasudev sourced from Karnataka. His plantation contacts were in the Babagudangiri  and Chipmangalore districts […] Read more

The Bell Inn Langford- made famous by Giles Coren

Giles Coren seems to have assumed the mantle of the late A.A. Gill. His restaurant  reviews-  not always polite, so amusingly bitchy, and sometimes so fulsome that one can only envy his luck and the deep pockets of his newspaper. His latest obsession is churchyards, which lure him to neighbouring pubs, such as The Bell […] Read more

Strawberry Hill Forever

                      Are we in Westminster Abbey, or in a medieval castle?  No, this is the Gothic Wendy house built over a period of 40 years by Horace Walpole. He was the son of Robert Walpole who was effectively Prime Minister throughout the reign of George […] Read more

Jive Queen

Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1998, Deepa Sarobar came to have lunch with me in Oxford. We went for a walk along the Oxford Canal and came home to Kingston Road for tea and cake.Someone must have obliged with my camera, but I don’t remember who it was. Perhaps it was the lock-keeper, […] Read more