A few days back we were joined by an unexpected guest.
I had seen a stray hen wandering in the lane on the previous evening.
Somehow she must have crossed our six-foot gate and wandered into the yard.
No one came looking for her, so Anu has put out water and scattered uncooked rice for her each day.
At night she spontaneously settles on an old piece of sacking in the open store-room of our out-house.
Today she provided us with a gift:
My first entirely home-grown meal and a variation, of sorts, on Bed & Breakfast:
I give her a bed, and she gives me a breakfast…
With plentiful ripe mangos and tender-coconuts falling daily from our trees, we seem to be more self-sufficient by the month.
I can hear our visiting hen now, still happy in the yard and gently clucking outside the window, as I write.
We were off to Tsomoriri, a high-altitude lake 15,000 ft above sea level, and over 200 kilometres from Leh.
The problem was finding somewhere to stay.
At this time of year nowhere is open:
the tourist season starts when the climate has improved.
Our tour organisers rose to the challenge by providing us with a cook,
and the hope he might find a local family willing to play host.
So, after an almost indecently early breakfast, we set out once more across the bleak Himalayan landscape,
stopping for hot tea, hot-sulphurous springs and a hot lunch.
For the last couple of years, while Shaji & Dalila take their well deserved day of rest, Anu my houseboy, Robin my good friend, and I have relied on Sri Krishna Café for our Sunday breakfast.
But Sri Krishna’s excellent chef is taking a couple of month’s leave, and its usually delicious fare has taken a distinct dive.
Step up young Anu!
This morning as dawn broke, having greeted me with my customary cup of chai masala,
Anu started preparing breakfast for the three of us.
Or possibly not..
I ambled somewhat absent-mindedly into the kitchen yesterday.
I went with the notion of finding the fair Dalila, so that we might discuss Botox.
This idea had sprung hard on the heels of my reading an article in The Guardian:
Loyd Grossman sauce in botulism alert
Two people taken to hospital as Food Standards Agency issues warning about certain jars of curry sauce
“The public is being warned not to eat certain jars of a Loyd Grossman curry sauce after two people were taken to hospital with botulism poisoning.
The Food Standards Agency said a batch of the brand’s korma sauce had been made the subject of a full recall and was being removed from shop shelves following the scare. It confirmed that two members of the same family hospitalised after contracting botulism had eaten from a jar of this batch of sauce in Scotland.
Only one jar is known to be contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, but the FSA is advising people not to eat products from this batch as a precautionary measure.
Botulism food poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by a bacterium which produces a toxin that attacks the nervous system. It is contracted by eating foods contaminated with the bacteria and can affect people of any age.
Symptoms include blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and a dry mouth, and usually occur within 12 and 36 hours of eating affected foods. It is easily treated if a doctor or hospital is notified early, although full recovery can take several months. The infection is not contagious and so cannot be spread from person to person…”
© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
My “blurred vision, drooping eyelids and slurred speech” are, so far, no worse than usual.
It’s a situation I will continue to monitor.
The picture of Dalila in the kitchen, and my fish biryani on the roof terrace, were taken at home.
The image of Loyd Grossman and his curry sauce was taken from the web.
It has been almost two months since the coconut palm in my front yard was harvested.
Standing by the gates is, once more, a little hazardous:
A coconut landing on your head can lead to serious injury.
But as I finished breakfast this morning, the gate-bell sounded.
Shaji had summoned Shiva Ram, our “kannakan” (coconut tree climber).
Shiva Ram sat on the porch steps for a few minutes, sharpening his machete,
Then scampered twenty or so feet up the trunk of our palm tree.
He cleared some of the lower branches
And released a couple of dozen coconuts.
Four hours later, Dalila had already incorporated a few of them into our lunch.
Pictures taken in the front yard.
The lure of Broadway is undeniable.
This time, for something called a “chappati cutting board”.
Although not having a clue what it is, I am certainly not going to argue if Dalila says we need one!
The shop in Broadway is filled to capacity with various kitchen utensils including, it seems, an appropriate chappati cutting board.
We make our purchase and then,
Passing all manner of imponderable wares,
Head back to our taxi.
Just a few hours later Anu, my trusty houseboy, is using the new chappati cutting board to prepare our supper.