marți, 15 martie 2011

Several Things

Vijaysree Venkatraman, writer of the excellent A Propos of Nothing, has an article in the Christian Science Monitor: A spice box and a cookbook got her started, which includes a recipe for Indian beans and peas.

The photograph of a spice box which accompanies the article was taken by the author of Mahanandi, a luscious-looking Indian and western food blog which I hadn't come across before.

Food ... mangoes.... eating mangoes twice a day. We started with the mangoes from our own tree, not very interesting but dear to me because I watched them swell up in their tree overlooking the badminton court. On to banganapallis from the fruit vendor's pushcart. Then one day I went out and bought a box of Alphonse mangoes from Maharashtra. When we put the first bite into our mouths, both of us emitted an involuntary 'aaah', and then laughed, because they were so luscious, so voluptuous...

The Gujarati word for 'right hand' literally translates as 'eating hand.' I wondered if the left hand might therefore be 'toilet hand' or 'unclean hand,' or something like that, but it isn't.

We hired a new gardener. He started out as our watchman, who moonlighted as an auto driver, but he asked us to hire him as a gardener because he loved that work. He only requested that we match his previous salary from the two jobs. We agreed, and we like him and his work. One week after he made the changeover, his slum of 200 thatched huts burned down. The government gave the affected families Rs. 1000 each; and some local charitable groups donated casuarina poles and palm mats - including matting impregnated with tar for the roof. We also helped him. He took two days off and rebuilt his hut.

Four days ago he again took two days of leave, sending a message that an insect had bitten his face and it had swelled up. That didn't sound right to us; we suspected that he had actually been driving the auto again, to make some extra money. When he returned, he told R the truth: his neighbours had claimed that when he rebuilt, he had grabbed an extra four feet of land. They broke the hut and beat him up.

Lakshmi says that he married a woman from the fisherman community, and lives with them, and that they are all rowdies. Whether that's true or not, it appears that a gardener is no match for them.