“One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.”
― Oscar Wilde
“One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.”
― Oscar Wilde
Just so I NEVER forget…..
Diesel price was £1.10
Self-distancing measures on the rise.
Tape on the floors at shops to help distance shoppers (2m) from each other.
Limited number of people inside shops, therefore, lineups outside the doors.
Non-essential shops and businesses mandated closed.
Pubs, theatres, restaurants are closed.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
Churches are closed. Graveyards are shut.
Don’t socialise with anyone outside of your home.
Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.
We are to distance from each other.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel, no laundry soap, no hand sanitiser.
Bread, pasta, flour, chicken and chopped tomatoes are sold out everywhere or in limited supply and purchases are controlled.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitiser and PPE.
All non-essential travel banned.
Fines are established for breaking the rules. Police patrolling the streets of many cities.
Arenas open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
NHS nightingale is opening in London to look after 4000 patients.
Press conferences daily from the government.
Decisions about our daily restricted life is reviewed every 3wks.
The government throws money at businesses to try to keep the economy from imploding. Grants and loans. The government to pay 80% of employees wages where businesses cannot continue to do so.
Daily updates on new cases and deaths.
The dead are denied wakes or funerals and barely anyone is allowed at the graveside. Max 10 at a funeral, possibly going to be further restricted.
Barely anyone on the roads.
People increasing wear masks and gloves outside.
Essential key workers are worried to go to work.
Medical field workers are worried about going home to their families.
Thursday nights at 8pm nationwide people go to their doorsteps to clap to say thank you to NHS and key-workers.
Children paint rainbows on the pavements and hang posters in their windows. Toy bears are placed in windows to entertain children going on a bear hunt as their controlled once-a-day outdoor activity.
This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.
One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.
We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone.
Reposting another one of my old blog posts. With all the time over the weekend, I struggled to choose a book to read. I have over a hundred books on my Kindle yet nothing hooked me on. I did what I usually do in situations like these. I turned to my bookshelf and chose a Christie book.
There is no thrill quite like what I experience after reading a whodunit. I love this genre with a passion. Why do I love whodunits so, you ask? Simple as Hercule Poirot says they gives you the illusion of living an exciting life.
This brings me to what is going to be the focus of this post – my abiding love for Agatha Christie and her unusual and idiosyncratic detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. I have read my fair share of Sherlock Holmes – who’s intent on impressing Watson all the time. I honestly don’t think you can deduce that someone’s wife has left him because his hat is dirty and not brushed often – god! Or probably he can possibly categorise 350 different types of tobacco ashes. No monsieur, that’s doesn’t impress me at all.
No doubt Christie’s mysteries are thrilling, one better than the other, but what charms me most is her detectives – a little old lady with a twinkle in her eyes and a Belgian ex-police detective with an egg-shaped head. They are witty, funny, kind but firm and so brainy. The cerebral appeal that they have is what is lacking in modern detectives. Today’s detectives do not have ‘the little grey cells” and cannot solve a mystery by “simply arranging the facts in order” and hence resort to sex appeal and dirtying their hands and all the action. I am more impressed with Poirot sitting in his chair, sipping a cup of hot chocolate and using his grey cells to solve the crime. That’s a true detective.
Miss Marple’s method are different though. Her little village of St. Mary Meads has given her ample opportunity to peep into the psyche of people and learn their nature and every new crime reminds her of someone who has done the something similar. Her study of human psychology and human nature is simply outstanding and perhaps that is the reason why I tend to enjoy her stories a bit more than Poirot’s.
Somewhere along some books, I have also taken an immense liking to Captain Hastings who’s Poirot’s closest friend and the narrator of most of his stories. He is loyal to Poirot, has a dry, witty sense of humour, is charming in his own way and never leaves a chance to point out Poirot’s pompousness.
I have read almost all of her books but still after reading a few other authors I need to read one Christie just to make the blood rush.
Some of my favourites:
The last weekend I cooked mutton biryani – the much-loved dish on the paternal side of my family. Even though my father and uncles are not foodies, any mutton dish is the one food item that is revered. On special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries etc, a typical family get together would most certainly include Mutton Biryani.
Handed down to my grandmother by a patient of my grandfather, this recipe is a special one. My late grandfather was a police surgeon. My grandparents lived in police quarters and from time to time had to change locations as is common to those in the service. When they had settled in their final place of residence at Byculla, my grandfather was in the higher ranks and usually had a couple of constables at his service. They also had many a servants who lived with them in servants quarters. When I now try to imagine their lifestyle, I find it highly interesting and quite aristocratic. But I digress..
Once it so happened that my grandfather treated a poor patient and didn’t take any fees from him. A few days later, to show appreciation for the kind act, the servant brought home a huge handi full Mutton dum biryani. After tasting it, grandma and grandpa were hooked.
After that day, my grandma nagged grandpa to ask the patient to provide her with the recipe. Every time he conveyed the message, they would receive the biryani in the huge vessel. After repetitive incidences, my grandma finally got hold of him personally and asked him.
Next day, an old woman with a bulky frame, piercing eyes and a paan stained red mouth visited my grandma. In her intimidating presence, grandma felt like a small mouse. In the kitchen she sat down with her pouch of tobacco and paan and told my grandma, “start peeling the garlic..” She was the mother of that patient.
Without going into the details of the recipe, the gist is to par boil rice and keep the mutton raw. Layer these in this manner: mutton at the bottom of a wide based thick vessel, then raw potatoes, tomatoes, dry fruits, finally the par boiled rice with fried onions at the top. The edges of the vessel had to be sealed with wheat dough before putting on the lid. Additionally, another vessel filled with water was kept on top to avoid any steam from getting out. The biryani was cooked on slow heat for about an hour or so.
My grandma swears that this is the authentic biryani recipe as the woman who taught her was a Muslim and this is how they do it. We accepted it and thought this was the only way to do it.
That is until I got married. As with every other food item, the biryani was also an elaborate affair at my in-laws’ home. The major difference between the recipes being, mutton was thoroughly cooked, potatoes, dryfruits and other garnishing items fried or cooked in some manner. The layering then involved only arranging these materials alternately and steaming them in a tight lid vessel.
Now I don’t remember when this thought formed but I simply believe that if you cook the rice and the meat separately and then assemble them, the dish is not a biryani but is merely a variation of pulao. I mean what is the point in cooking everything separately and then only assembling them together? To get the flavours of the spices and mutton into the rice, the meat has to be raw.
Whatever recipe you choose, these two methods of cooking give out distinctly different flavours to the rice and I for one believe that the flavour of the rice is highlight of any biryani. Some people are astonished from the combination of cooked rice and raw meat but trust me on this, the meat does get cooked and the rice is not over cooked in the process. If you follow the instructions exactly and not try to add you own little ingredients or variations, then you will be able to make authentic dum biryani.
So what kind of biryanis have you tried and which do you think is the most authentic one?
The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry – This is a deliciously atmospheric book set in historical Edinburgh 1847. A medical crime fiction mystery written by husband and wife authors Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. Loved the mystery and reading about Victorian Edinburgh. The sequel The Art of Dying is even better.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Very addictive and immersive. Contemporary YA murder mystery. Our protagonist Pippa Fitz-Amobi chooses a closed case to research for her end of year project. It’s an open and shut case for the polie and town and it was closed five years ago. A girl murdered by her boyfriend who then killed himself before the police could arrest him. Pippa is not convinced and goes about finding the truth.
Conviction by Denise Mina – A true-crime podcast sets a housewife’s present life on a collision course with her secret past. What motivated me to read this one was the fact that it was set in Scotland. Anna is an ordinary wife, mum and a podcast junkie. One day her husband leaves her for her best friend and takes the kids along with him. Feeling miserable, she starts listening to the podcast “Death and the Dana” – a true crime podcast discussing the case of a man and his family who all died on the sunken yacht in Bay of Biscay. This is a different type of murder mystery thriller.
Unfollow me by Charlotte Duckworth – Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-vlogger, with three young children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold. Until the day she’s no longer there. But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to her? This was a brilliant read for me. Very relevant in today’s world of social media obsession. The mystery unfolds from the perspectives of her most avid fans who want to find out the truth.
We are in week 4 of lockdown.
Schools are on their Easter holiday break. Next week, when schooling resumes, we shall see the new online education system and how it works out.
Things we are doing/would want to do:
We have a huge park nearby. It’s our favourite place to go for walks. We haven’t gone there for a month and I desperately wish to see the cherry blossoms. – Hopefully some day soon.
Keeping in touch with family and friends – We are constantly messaging and calling each other to find out how everyone is managing in these days. It’s hard to accept that we may not see our family back in India anytime soon. Zoom and whatsapp calls are frequent and lengthy.
Reading – Loads of books. Kindle has been a life saver. With no access to libraries, I am back to reading books on the Kindle.
Binging on TV – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Thop TV you name it, I got it. At one time I thought I had watched everything there was, but now digging deep to search for more series and movies to watch.
Cooking – Back to the basics of survival instincts. Cooking food is a coping mechanism especially when you have a child to look after. I find myself cooking more comfort foods. Having more time on hands helps too. We are allowed to go out for grocery shopping but then here’s a thought. If you are going to buy milk, might as well buy ten other things you need. I have never been a meal planner, however, now I plan and schedule and stock up.
I recently read in an article that “One of the ways to interrupt anxiety is to let other senses take over. Touching things, smelling something, listening. When you are cooking, you are doing all these things, immersing yourself in the world of senses. Otherwise you would be trapped in your mind which is not a comfortable place right now.”
Everyone is doing their best to cope in these difficult times. Immersing yourself in an activity, any activity seems to be the best way to cope.
The weather is beautiful. It is bright and sunny. Spring has sprung. I am feeling better as I am on two weeks of annual leave. Not in isolation; I had to take the leave or let it go waste.
So here I am at home cooking meals twice a day, putting up freshly cooked food on the table, for the husband and son who are also at home.
Last week has seen me go out every day for a walk. My 60 minutes of exercise. The benefits of this exercise as clear. It has lifted the fog off my mind. Walking outdoors is so much better. After the first few minutes of getting adjusted to the cold air, breeze, I can feel the freshness of the air. I can feel the muscles in my leg working, my breath deepening.
I notice things along the canal. The daffodils have bloomed. The ducks have braved their way out of the water and are relaxing on the pathway. The crocuses – oh the lovely crocuses all vibrant in their violets, yellows and whites!
In my mind, am singing songs. The first one, although a beautiful song, is a sad old tune. By the time I am on my way back home, I have this bouncy uplifting tune in my head. I haven’t thought about this one in a long time. It brings back memories of when I first heard it, when my grandmother explained it to me meaning and tune all. There’s a spring in my step and a smile on my lips.
My son is alright through this whole things, I hope. He watches the news, is concerned. I try to create a routine for him but nothing sticks. I wish he would come out with me on the walk but he prefers playing at home. On the second day of homeschooling, he tells me he want to go back to school. He has taken an active interest in cooking.
Social media has been the source of relief and agony. There is everything from fake news to lists of activities to do at home. Loads of resources to try at home – learning, art, crafts, cooking, exercising. Information overload. It is an exercise in itself.
When I wake up in the morning, the day is open with possibilities. I can go for a walk, I can cook, I can spend a few hours reading the new book. I can write my letters, binge watch TV, do the things I always wanted to do. I have the time to do the extra things.
I have spoken to friends I wasn’t in touch with for long. I have texted and called and emailed. I have written letters.
The future is uncertain, uncharted. Now is the time to reflect. It is time to think, how big we are as a human race, what our actions have been and the impact we have had on this planet. Nature has put us in this spot now. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t volunteer, we just had to stop. In the coming months, we shall establish a new way of life, a new normal which shall make us think before acting. When we get on the other side of it, we will hopefully emerge stronger and more reflective of our actions.
In Scarlett O Hara’s words, I won’t think about it today. I will think about it tomorrow. After all tomorrow is another day.
My son turns 10 this month. Double digits. A decade old! Where has the time gone? I can almost have an adult conversation with him. At each stage in his life so far, I have thought it was the best one until he grew another year and surprised me. He is his own person and cannot be influenced by the opinions of others.
I suppose that’s an excuse to write something on the blog. Give it a sense of survival.
I have completed a year at my job! That’s a sentence I never thought I would be able to say if you asked me a few years ago.
I am still skeptical about driving. Although I can drive my husband’s car (a gigantic metal tin) I am worried about the geometry of it. With the narrow roads of Edinburgh, one can bump into anything if one is not careful.
Gone are the days of me sitting down for a couple of hours and reading. I can’t remember the last book I read. Here’s something else I noticed. I tend to forget the books and the plots of those books that I read on the Kindle. Is it because they all feel the same? No texture no uniqueness.
Hopefully this won’t be the only post this year!
When you start getting anonymous new followers on your blog, even though you haven’t posted anything for almost close to a year, you have to realise that your blog is being spammed and it’s time to update it.
So hello everyone!
I am still alive and very much in Edinburgh. (Can’t love the city enough!)
Here’s the latest happenings:
My son will turn 9 next month! How did that happen? where did my sweet little baby go and who is this eye rolling (yeah!) monster brat who can get a lot annoying if I let the reins loose.
I got a driving licence last year. yay! In hindsight, it feels silly really. What’s the big deal in getting a driving licence but at the time of learning, it felt major work. Accomplishing something, anything really, after a break of almost 7 years does feel like a major achievement.
I got a job! Woohooo! That’s another accomplishment. Another tick mark to the list of goals. It has been a month since I started working, so now I can say it feels real and it is real. But sometimes I have to pinch myself if this is really true.
Seeing Roger Federer live in action: What a dream come true. We went to see him play at the O2 arena. He lost the match against David Goffin; but to see him, be in the same space as him, what pure joy!
These highs later in the last year were not before I was hit with the lowest of lows. My dear grandmother, my aaji, died last August. It feels surreal, it feels fake. It cannot be true. Writing it down doesn’t make it real or acceptable. People say writing about loss and grief and suffering would somehow lessen it, lessen the blow. I find it impossible to write about it. It feels superficial. You cannot express what you feel and how deep the pain is. I didn’t feel much at the time. I was like a robot, going about doing things that needed done. I was on autopilot going through the motions of life. Life has become so busy. There is no time to grieve, no time to stop and think and feel. And then suddenly it comes crashing down, the gut wrenching pain while you are doing something mundane. A word, a song, a situation, a long forgotten memory, and you have ripped open a wound.
Aansoo ab tum kabhi na behna
Apna dard kisise na kehna
A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.
What do they have in common?
Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.
SPREAD THE WORD. THE WORD IS MURDER.
I am so thrilled to have discovered this book. This is a very different murder mystery where the author of the book becomes the narrator of the story. It was odd at first where the author turned narrator and the detective discuss writing a book about the murder that has taken place. I was drawn into it and quite liked it.
Now on to the story. A woman walks into a funeral home to plan her own funeral and 6 hours later, she is dead. Horrowitz mentions many times in the book that Agatha Christie is his hero and you can see it in his writing in the book. The multiple characters with story lines of their own, a second murder, chatty characters, well hidden clues with all ends tied up at the end. At the same time, Horrowitz is the Watson to Hawthrone’s Sherlock.
This is a very interesting and entertaining read. Highly recommended.