Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mystery Produce Episode 4 - Torai

Today we cooked with Torai or ridge gourd or, much to my surprise, luffa!

Upon seeing our creation, I had what is now a totally foreign experience for me - an inexplicable aversion to trying this new food.

It doesn't look all that different from other food I eat, it smells good, I generally relish trying new foods.  Nevertheless, I didn't really want to eat it.  And when I did, I didn't really like it.  It's not bad, but it has all the qualities I dislike about overcooked zuchini (that's overcooked by my definition and not necessarily anybody else's).  Fortunately Boaz likes it.

Book - Indian Summer

This was a quick, mostly light, mostly enjoyable read.  Overall kind of a shoulder shrug.  The writing is decent and I enjoyed much of the story, especially now that I'm living in India and working with slum kids.  It's basically a memoir about how Will, an Englishman and teacher by profession, finds himself in India.  Finds himself in India mostly to escape his horrid students in London though.  And he's pretty disparaging about said profession, maybe in a self deprecating way, but here's where I start to not like him all that much.

He stumbles on this opportunity to go to India.  He finds he doesn't like it at all and plans to return to the UK immediately.  (Liking him even less.)  I forget why he doesn't and instead happenstance brings him to working with a small orphanage/school in a slum right here in Pune.  But again, almost grudgingly.  He comes around and the story of working with all these little children to put on a performance of the Ramayana to save the slum from developers is full of comedy and heartbreak and triumph.

The major events are driven exclusively by chance encounters and Will's total lack of, well, will.  I do not get the subtitle to the book:  "A good man in Asia."  The way it's presented, it's more like a not-so-bad guy that is open to anything and everything.  Which really isn't a bad thing and neither is the book.  *shrug*

Friday, April 15, 2011


Kitty is definitely pregnant.  Kitty also hates, I mean hates being locked in the guest room.  I did not properly secure the window once.  She opened the screen, climbed out onto the sill and managed to negotiate her pregnant self down from the second story.

Though she dutifully uses the litter box in there, as soon as I let her roam the house she sprayed on a box in the office.  I've let her back outside, but still feed her in the guest room.  Two or three times a day, after she eats and under my watchful eye, she sleeps for a while on the floor in the living room before heading back out.  I am still kind of hoping that she'll get used to being inside and have her kittens here?  Yeah, probably not.

The Imambaras

Lucknow impressed us overall with its wonderful, old architecture.  Much older than Pune.  We visited both the Bara (big) Imambara and Chotta (little) Imambara.

As I understand it and that is probably not well, Imambargah are Shia congregation halls for ceremonies associated with the Remembrance of Muharram.  This is a time of mourning over Ashura, the martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, on the tenth (ashura) day of Muharram (the first month of the islamic calendar).

Mystery Produce Episode 3 - Bottle Gourd

Shama has been giving me some cooking lessons.  Today we made the dish she served when I visited her home, white pumpkin dal.  It's good that she is doing the shopping for these sessions, because I never would have guessed that this was 'white pumpkin'.

 The flesh is indeed bright white and makes about the tastiest dal I've had so far.  (I'm not exactly a fan of dal.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's evening in Pune

And it smells like rain.  It has only rained once, and very briefly at that, since I've been in India.  I expected it to be humid, but the humidity hasn't been above maybe 10% so far.  Probably a very good thing in this 100 degree weather.  Quite the change from Seattle, which is at 81% today.  My palms and fingertips haven't looked this old and papery and alien since taking Accutane.  But it's awful pleasant out right now and I am looking forward to the monsoon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Uh oh!

I am pretty sure our little kitty friend is now pregnant.  I was thinking I would take her to a vet for shots and to be fixed and get flea treatments, etc.  It seems I'll have to wait until the kittens are born to do most of that.  I wish a little kitty abortion was an option, but I don't think that's a thing.

So now I'm struggling with whether or not to bring her into the house until the kittens are born and then have them all fixed.  I do love kittens.  Who doesn't love kittens?  But no, I don't want a whole brood of indoor cats.  I miss my pets, but I don't miss dealing with their poo and fur and damage to the furniture and fleas (okay, mine didn't really have fleas, but there was a day a month that they were covered in toxic chemicals to achieve flea-freedom). 

How can I bring these cats in, only to cast them out again?  Or do I just leave them to their own devices?  Nothing feels quite right, but maybe that is life.