The last time I wrote here, I spoke of my grandfather’s passing. Over the past few months, I have found it incredibly difficult to be inspired to write any more articles. I think the writer’s block really hit me hard as he was my inspiration. However, this morning I decided that I was going to put pen to paper and write something for the relaunch of Gaysi.
The recent events in my life have got me thinking a lot about family and I was reminded of the time I had a shoulder surgery about three years ago.I had torn the rotator cuff muscle in my shoulder and I needed to have key hole surgery. Apparently it’s a common sports injury but I can’t imagine how I got it as sport and me are not natural bed fellows!
The hospital experience was all very civilised except for the ungodly time I had to get to there. We called for the taxi at 6:30am and of course, as it always happens with our taxi company, they sent the most inexperienced driver to pick us up. The guy turns up late after getting lost despite a very loud GPS screaming directions at him in cab reeking of cigarettes. I could see J’s blood pressure rise, he was already irritated by the delay and now the smell of stale smoke was not helping. To make matters worse the driver decided to do us a favour and get rid of the rank smell by rolling down his window and inviting in the sub zero winds. It was just too comical to watch J pop a blood vessel while all this was going on. At least it got my mind off the impending surgery.
After spending an hour watching the news on repeat, listening to my sister and J make lame jokes about me looking like Bo Peep draped in a table cloth (because of the hospital garb) the nurse came in and added to the injury by making me wear a sort of adult diaper. So I sat there in my Victorian floral hospital gown, sky blue surgery hat and my diaper waiting to be wheeled into surgery. Two and a half hours later I was wheeled back into my room. The high from the drugs was unbelievable, my first words apparently were ‘I am lady Gaga’ followed by a lot of other nonsense which I obviously cannot remember and therefore cannot defend myself when J and my sister insist on reminding me of the rubbish I was saying!
Thinking about this situation made me have a moment of philosophical introspection. I have been living in this country for nine years now. I’ve been with J for seven years. My sister has only recently moved here to London and like us I’m sure many of you live away from home and can understand the feeling of going through all this in what seems like an alien place.
Now if I was in India, I would have had my entire joint family, their neighbours and friends hanging around the hospital for support. Aunts, uncles, cousins, great grand mothers will all pile into the hospital room giving the nurses a tough time. Everyone brings food, we express love in our culture through food. Even if you have just had a part of your stomach removed you are still expected to taste a little bit of the curry that Aunty Lata has ‘specially made for you’. Most importantly no matter how old you are, it is your mother’s prerogative to quiz the doctor on the ins and outs of the surgery, recovery time and dietary requirements. Add to all this a pinch of exaggeration and a lot of motherly love and you manage to get pampered for at least a week over the recommended rest period.
Obviously I didn’t have the entire family falling all over me (the phone did ring off the hook though, Indian Telecom companies must have made a fortune!). But I must say J and my sister did a stellar job. I can’t imagine life without J, of course we fight like any married couple does, but when it comes to the crunch he is there for me unflinchingly doing his bit with all the love and care in the world. My sister was no less of a darling, getting to work in the kitchen as soon as we got home. The smells from the kitchen were not only yummy, but were nostalgically comforting, bringing back memories of home in India. I must say I am very lucky to have a loving family like J and my sister around me; life would be very different without them. Needless to say it would be lonely and difficult but most importantly incomplete. Having said that, pick up that phone and give your folks a call, you never realise how much you miss them until you don’t have them around you.
Roasted pumpkin stuffed with carrots and cous cous
I totally made up this recipe one night. It is super easy and really delicious. Tastes awesome with a glass of cold semillion or pinot gris.
You will need
1 small pumpkin
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
2 carrots diced and par boiled
6 slices of streaky bacon
5 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
Fresh parsley to garnish
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup cous cous
Salt and pepper
Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds from the middle and empty out the middle.
Using the sharp end of a knife make lines in the inside of the pumpkin about 1 cm apart. Smear the inside of both the pumpkin halves with good glug of olive oil. Place then face up and place them under a grill. Make sure you check them constantly so that they don’t burn. You want them soft on the inside but the shell to be intact.
Chop up the garlic and the spring onions. Heat another large glug of olive oil in a pan and fry the cumin seeds till you can smell the lovely aroma that they release. Chuck in the onions and the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Cut up the streaky bacon and fry with the onion and the garlic till the bacon is almost done. Chuck in the carrots and let it all stir fry for a few minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Watch out that you don’t over salt as the bacon is quite salty.
Make your cous cous as directed on the packet. Add the lemon zest to the finished cous cous and mix well. Mix in the cous cous with the stir fry. Check that your pumpkins are done. When the pumpkins can be scooped out easily with a spoon you know they are ready. Fill the pumpkins with the stir fried mixture and garnish with the freshly chopped parsley.