Saturday, July 10, 2010

A website, two saucepans and a cockroach

After I left RUHSA on Thurs I came to stay at Celine's partly to see her and partly to finish the bl*&%*y website which has been hanging over my head like a sword of Damacles. We started it at least a year ago. In January, fed up with the delay, I put a firecracker underneath it, so it took a leap forward. A few weeks later, it then came grinding to a spectacular halt and nothing, but nothing has moved since, despite a few plaintive emails trying to ascertain why no headway was being being made. Although, I am the person who is raising funds for it, it is not my website and I do not live in India, so it should not depend on my having to bully everyone like a starched nanny to bring things together. So, truthfully, I was a little narked with the situation, even with dear Celine. She does want the website, but she wants it to be a fait accompli; she is not at all interested in the hows and whys of it, which I can understand, but it won't happen by itself. Anyway, now there is an ultimatum on the table, and I hope that will be the end of procrastination.

Once the weight of sorting out the website was finished, I felt much lighter, so Celine and I could really enjoy ourselves. Today, she gave me a cooking lesson; I now know how to make dosa - a half crispy half soft rice pancake - brinjal curry, a coconut and cabbage dish, Indian fried rice, sambar - the lentil dish eaten with all meals in South India - and garlic pickle. We ate really well today! I even took some of the coconut and cabbage dish before it was cooked and fusioned it with lime, mango and roasted peanuts to make a sweet and hot salad. They don't know it yet, but I shall be experimenting with the medical students when they come for the end of term barbeque.

In anticipation of all the cooking I would be doing, I had already decided to buy a dosa pan to take home. My suitcase when I came out was light as a feather, weighing a mere 12kg of which at least 6-7kg was the case. So I thought to myself that I could afford to do some shopping. Giving myself licence to shop is a like an alcoholic saying "Well, I'll just have a small one." I can now barely lift the suitcase off the ground. As if the dosa pan were not enough Celine, after our gastronomique triumph this afternoon, went out and bought me a pressure cooker. It is nestling between underpants, incense sticks and packets of biryani mix, tamarind rice mix, fish fry masala, two pots of honey and a bottle of mango squash. I haven't even mentioned the shirts, earrings, bangles and delicious tooled leather laptop bag. Or the Indian board game. I am going to have to put more than my wallet and my phone down my bra.

Revoltingly, when I emptied my hand luggage case completely to repack it, I noticed a shimmering in the corner. I looked a little closer and realised I had brought a friend from RUHSA with me. There was a cockroach in my bag. I don't know why they are so particularly unsavoury, but they are absolutely disgusting. I really had to steel myself to catch it and throw it out. It's partly their incredibly long feelers which somehow look so knowing, as if nothing escapes them; they sense exactly where you are, what you are doing, they can taste your fear and they revel in it. I have to say though, once the chase was on, the fear equilibrium tipped in my favour, which sent the roach scurrying onto the deepest crevices of the case in a very unhandy way. At once point I was worried it had got between the lining and the frame never to be removed, resulting in me having to take it as hand luggage and it emerging sometime during the inflight meal causing a commotion on the plane. I did not relish the thought. Luckily, however it hadn't and, with a plastic bag over my hand as if I were picking up dog poo, I managed after several attempts to catch it and chuck it outside where, bemused, it scuttled off leaving me shivering in revulsion. I have to say, as I was sitting here writing about how I managed to outwit and outscare the roach, a huge mayfly type thing landed on my bare shoulder causing me to leap off my chair shrieking (which I am not usually wont to do) flapping my shirt ineffectually to get the thing off me. Revenge of the insects. Me 1, bugs 2.

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