Food, Glorious Food!


It’s been over a year since I’ve been back to the UK. It’s been OK. I’ve survived but recently I have started craving my favourite foods again; food that can only be found in the hallowed food halls of the United Kingdom, or at least, cannot be found here!

A list:

  • Prawn cocktail flavoured crisps (Walkers)
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Fish and Chips (from the ‘fish n chip’ shop)
  • Thorntons Chocolate (large variety box)
  • M&Ms (peanut)
  • Ben & Jerry’s Phish food ice cream
  • Cheese and Onion flavoured crisps (Walkers)
  • Chicken and Mushroom Pie (from the ‘fish n chip’ shop)
  • Krispy Kreme Donuts
  • Chicken Tikka flavoured pie (from the corner shop)
  • Ginsters sausage roll
  • A cheese and onion pie (from Greggs)
  • In fact, anything from Greggs!

And…I think that’s it!

There’s a recurring theme here.

None of the above is healthy.

I’d give anything for a pie!

Image

The Quality of a Raindrop


It was depressingly grey all day today, in Hyderabad, with a persistent rain that fell on and off with varying degrees of intensity throughout the daylight hours.  At first I was joyful, almost jubilant, donning my long lost cardigan that I had left behind on my first stop to my new home. It reminded me of back in the UK, where it would be grey for days at a time. I was filled with a nostalgia that made me smile with longing of fresher climes. But then, something changed, probably when I had to actually go out and brave the weather.

We were on our way to look at some furniture for my father-in-law’s newly built house. That’s normally an activity that I would love; potentially spending large amounts of money on large, pretty but functional objects. But the wind and the rain just got to me. The traffic was tragic and we didn’t buy anything! Maybe that was the root cause of my melancholy; it was a wasted afternoon!

But it made me think of the UK and how I loved the idea of just escaping all that glum ‘greydom’ and exchanging my winter wear for the weather that suited my clothes in my ideal summer. We did leave in December so the weather was pretty dire and daylight seemed to be at a premium, only adding to the urgency of escape.

The rain in Calcutta

First Rains

But it also made me think of the rain in Calcutta.

That is to say, the rain in Calcutta is the stuff of Bollywood Dreams. It falls with purpose and riot. It’s heralded by the wind, who howls and yelps in warning and celebration. The clouds turn broody and dark and thunder roars and rumbles making the earth tremble in anticipation of the coming tumult. And when it comes, there is a release! The earth becomes fresher, women rush out of their homes and dance as the raindrops caress their form. They become heavenly beings, at one with the water, the earth and the air and for those few minutes, Calcutta is a paradise, where everything is turned to mercury and emeralds and rubies and gold.

But just as quickly as it comes, it is gone.

The earth, like Lord Kishna’s Radha, relives her time with her beloved and basks in the afterglow for as long as the memory can satisfy, but that too fades, replaced by longing once again. The land becomes parched, the air becomes oppressive and a dank stillness hangs in the air.

Has it happened then? Have I said that I prefer the rain in Calcutta to anywhere else? I suppose I must have.

They say Calcutta grows on you, it seeps into your bloodstream without you even realising it. I think it has and like the earth, longing for the rain, I’m longing to get back; back to my routine, back to my friends, back to my home and back to the rain that falls with purpose and with riot.

Saying goodbye. The simple things.


walkers-prawn-cocktail-flavour-crisps-case-of-48-bags-6107-p“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

The Alchemist: one of my favourite books. It taught me to follow the opportunities that are given to us and that love is a much bigger force than we realise…

When I first learnt that we may be coming to India, it was a bolt from the blue. My husband was always keen to return and I suppose I went along with it because I never really believed it would happen. And I was right, to some extent; it wasn’t going to happen, not on paper. I mean, we hadn’t even applied for any jobs overseas.

I was at work when my husband called. It was a lunchtime and I literally could not look my colleagues in the eye! Nothing was set in stone, it was just a possibility! But for a couple of weeks though, it was a very real possibility. Then it all went quiet.

I told myself that it wasn’t going to happen, after all. I continued to live my life in the present and refused to look at what might be. It was coming up to the end of our tenancy agreement on the house we were staying in and there were even discussions about saving for a few months and buying a house of our own in sleepy Coventry. I’d fallen in love with my hometown all over again by this time. I loved the pink blossom on the trees along the long, wide stretch of Leamington Road, I loved the Sunday coffee chats, with my friend in the town centre and I loved my teaching job. I was even thinking about career advancement and I was very content to see my daughter settled in the best possible school for her at the time.

However, slowly, but surely the wheels were turning and things were being put into place. I’m not sure if the readers of this blog believe in fate or destiny, but there was really nothing that could stop our lives from taking this dramatic turn. My husband and I both believe in something higher, guiding us, leading the way. I suppose that’s why I learnt to just accept it and imagine the best that could happen, rather than the worst. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. There would be days when I would just break down and cry at the silliest thing. There were other times when I just couldn’t wait to get on a plane and fly far away from the gloom of the English winter. I found myself making a list of the pros and cons of moving, of all the things that I would miss. One of them, was the bright pink packets of prawn cocktail flavoured crisps and of course, there’s always the good ol’ fashioned English breakfast and not to forget beans/cheese on toast. Who knew that I was so into my food? But the hardest thing to say goodbye to was probably my parents.

See now, I’m in danger of crying and ruining that freshly applied mascara, ready for a birthday party, I’m attending later. But for the last few months we were in the UK we were living with Mum and Dad. We had to vacate the house we were renting and there was no point in renting somewhere new. I saw them with fresh eyes this time, knowing we’d be saying goodbye for an indefinite length of time. They were more frail than I remembered. Slightly smaller. When I hugged my father it struck me how easily my arms wrapped around his diminished frame. I watched him as he played with my son, recycling the same tales he had spun for my brother and I. I watched my children make a den under the same table that my brother and I had used to play hide and seek in. I found myself getting annoyed at my brother for not spending more time at home with us because there was a time when he was my best friend. But most importantly I found myself finally, truly understanding my mother in all her glory.

I had already started to see my mother in a different light, as soon as I became a mother to my daughter but this time I saw the complete dedication she had for her role of homemaker. My brother and my father lacked for nothing and when we arrived, neither did we. She was tireless in trying to make us feel happy and at home and we just accepted it as it her job, her duty. I also marvelled at how selflessly she looked after her own mother, a diabetic and a character in herself. But most of all I saw how much love one person can hold with absolutely no resentment towards anyone. Not once did she complain about how much there was to do, even though her back ached and her legs struggled to keep her standing. Under the same conditions I know that I would have crumbled but she just got on with it!

I suppose the one thing that can be said about saying goodbye is that it makes you focus on what you’re saying goodbye to; the good and the bad. It provides you with a new pair of magic glasses that somehow clarifies all the important things in life. And the most important things in life are usually quite small, simple and right under our nose.