The rain is leaving us as spring waltzes in but it certainly isn’t leaving quietly. In the night, my little kitchen was flooded in moonlight but as I looked up, swift grey covers silently stole in and blocked her from my view. The next morning, formerly azure skies were swathed in threatening grays and mauves. People who had put away their winter wear were sent scrambling for their coats and spent the day wishing for the sun again. But despite the shocked gasps that I’m going to incite from that quarter, I’m not sure I’m ready for the rain to leave us just yet. I do like the sun but I’m going to miss winter’s quiet monochrome days this time around. It’s perfect for staying in and studying, which I’ve needed to do. Nevertheless, foodwise, I am looking forward to spring and summer’s bounty of fresh produce, which in the Bay Area is tremendous.
Before then, we continue to make the best of staples and our small pantry. Greens restaurant here in San Francisco always seems to have wonderful menus no matter what the season and their head chef Annie Sommerville’s cookbook Field of Greens is one of my favourite places to go looking when I want different flavours. This light and lovely scrambled egg breakfast is simple, with ingredients quite different from what I’d normally put in scrambled eggs. The sesame gives it varied smoky nuance and the ginger brings a lovely mild heat.
There are days when grey skies and rainy days are fine by me. I love them when I’m sitting at home and don’t have anywhere to be. These are the days that things at home that have been clamouring for my attention for a while, but haven’t been critical enough to actually get it, get done. Stuff like sorting out books, reorganizing a closet or shelf. But there is also a lovely indolent element to these times. They are the best days for curling up on the couch and doing nothing other than reading a good book or watching a bad movie. Amey and I love to sleep in when we have such weather. But that Sunday I was up uncharacteristically bright and early. I sat by the window and watch the rain come down while a steaming cup of cocoa warmed my hands. As strains of Reo Speedwagon‘s Can’t Fight this feeling filled the room (I always get a bit nostalgic and retro when it rains and I don’t know what it is about this song and the rain, they just fit), I watched the rain falling down my window, tracing the drops as they formed briefly-lived lines on the pane. Rains in San Francisco aren’t like ones in Bombay where the terrifyingly dark skies open and a deluge of water pours down. This is gentle pattering down of water from slate skies. I could still see the traffic on Bay street clearly enough to read license plates, something that would never happen in Bombay rains. Nevertheless, rain it was, rhythmically falling and bringing the calming feeling of facetious isolation that it brings for me. The same feeling I get when I am by myself in a crowd.
Draining my cup of cocoa left me me suddenly bereft of the warm cup in my hands. It also turned my thoughts to the week ahead, as Sunday mornings inevitably do. I used to groan at the thought of that early Monday morning. Monday blues used to hit me a whole day earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and my workplace, working as I do with fun people. It is Mondays that are the problem. Like the kid sticking his fingers in his ears and singing to drown out words he doesn’t want to hear, early on in my career I would shut my mind to the thought of Monday and try to push it far back as much as possible, thereby ensuring a full fledged gloom attack by Sunday night. These days I deal with it a lot better (cue in peals of hysterical laughter from my husband).This time though the thought of Monday brightened me considerably as it came with thoughts of cake.
It’s funny how things about you change through life. At this point I’m an owl and drag myself out of bed in the morning. As a child I was an early bird, also the studious sort (read: nerd, I wear the badge proudly). There was many a morning before some test where I was springing out of bed at 5.00 am to study (not because I wasn’t prepared but because I wanted to revise it for the nth time. Read: uber-nerd!) I’d sit in the kitchen so as not to disturb my sister who I shared a room with. I’d open the kitchen window, look out into the dark, quiet street with the street lamp some distance away and then open my books on the kitchen table. There was a wonderful peace to that time of day that allowed me to get a lot done. There was a main road and a market nearby which must have been in full swing by then, but the new day didn’t touch my little space yet. That wasn’t until the mullah at a nearby mosque took up the clarion call of the morning prayer at dawn. Though I’m not a Muslim, the musicality of that prayer has always been soothing to me, uttered peacefully as it is. I’d goad myself to be done with my work before then because I knew my mom would be in the kitchen before it was done and me and my books would need to clear out to get ready for school.
Mom always insisted on a cooked breakfast in our tummies before we went about our day. So pretty soon in the morning, there would be lovely aromas drifting out of the kitchen. After her customary cup of tea (fully required to be awake and coherent by all members of my family except me), she’d finish up the breakfast she’d prepped the earlier night. On rare days that she was under the weather or running late, it would be buttered toast or corn flakes.
Breakfast in India is mostly savoury, not sweet. In my family, it was almost never sweet. In fact, the college coffee shop was a shock to my system when I first came to the United States. It is something I still haven’t adjusted to. Bagels are my only option and often, they aren’t much of one. Often I’d put on my school uniform to come out and find the smell of onion and chilli wafting in the air. One of my favourite morning breakfasts was and still is Pavacha chivda (torn bread with potatoes and onions). This makes a damn fine supper too though.
March madness has begun! No, I don’t mean the annual basketball mania. I mean the seasonal scramble when spring is not quite here and we’re doing everything in our power to force it here, if only to be pointedly told by Mom Nature that it will get here when it gets here.
Earlier last week, my friends R & R announced that they would be in the Bay area with their adorable tot T on Saturday and requested a round-up of the ol’ college gang. Ever eager to do so, the bunch of us looked up the weather, whooped in glee as it promised to be warm(ish) and sunny and decided to meet at Fort Kronkite for the first picnic of the year. Our wonderfully laid plans were summarily thwarted as Saturday dawned as a blustery, cold day. The weather websites had changed their forecasts without notice and now promised no sunshine. After trading several phone calls, Amey, V and I bravely trudged on to Fort Kronkite, only to be driven back by gale worthy winds. As V regretfully contemplated his decision to wear shorts that day, Amey hurriedly called and urged the rest of our friends not to cross the Golden Gate and stay in the city. We’d meet instead in Golden Gate Park.
We found a sheltered nook near Stow lake, laid out our blankets and proceeded to gorge on our potluck picnic, trying hard to be oblivious to the incredulous stares of people walking by. All I can say is thank God for blankets and the wonderfully warm, gooey chocolatey brownies I’d baked.