The need to be different and unique; I went through it too. That was before the time I realised I am different and unique, as are we all. No wait, come back…I wasn’t beginning to preach. This point will become a character sketch, you’ll see.
Anyway getting back to the need to be different; I believe it first truly struck me when I was five and in first grade. The teacher called upon us to each name our favourite fruit, as a prelude to the five sentences we would write about it. Right away, the aspiring teachers’ pet (moi) decided she was going to dazzle the class and the teacher with my sensational choice. As I listened to the litany of ‘mango (the easy highest favourite) apple, orange, banana, grapes……’ , I mentally whizzed through the fruits I liked and decided to go with watermelon which no one had mentioned. (Not very surprising; in India we are spoiled by an abundance of fruit, kids would largely think of melons last.) I had already started composing the write-up in my head, probably along the lines of ‘Watermelon is red. Watermelon is sweet. Watermelon is juicy’ (hey I said I was 5!) when the unthinkable happened. A friend stood up and said ‘Watermelon’. Black thoughts, probably along the lines of what Caesar must have thought of Brutus, passed through my head. But reeling from this unexpected blow, I rallied and thought of another fruit; the pineapple. That would show ‘em you can’t keep me down. At this point I’d probably eaten the thing once (who knows? I don’t have perfect recall), knew it was pretty good. Yup by the time the teacher got to the S’s, no one mentioned pineapple and I had my very own, only vote, favourite fruit. Was I cool or what? (*choke* sorry I can’t believe what a chump I was once.)
Life is not without its little ironies. While I didn’t know it then, pineapple is one of the very few things I grew up to be quite allergic to. Pineapple in its raw form can give me a sore throat a hypochondriac would be proud to acquire. Sad really, I do love the fruit, but I can’t eat it. Stuff like that cured me of any claims on being unique pretty soon.
One of the (many!) enjoyable things about living in San Francisco is the easy access to a great variety of cheese. I don’t mean the stuff near the deli at the supermarket, though that’s fine in a pinch. I mean the lovely varieties of artisan cheeses that are available here. One of my favourite ones is Cowgirl Creamery’s Pepato, a wonderful peppery sheep’s milk cheese which is mmmyummmmy all by itself. I can wax lyrical for volumes just about this cheese, but that would mean digressing, so…. putting dream cheese away in fantasy fridge to focus back on the topic at hand.
I like to shop for food like some women like to shop for shoes. I can spend hours wandering around food, gawking at all the wares. I think dogs who stare dolefully at dining tables must be more subtle than I am. Fanatical about hygiene though I may be, I have no problem shmushing my face into cheese counters and such to get a better look at what’s inside. The more expensive the store, the longer I will linger, since the thrifty part of me will engage in long arguments with the part that wants to buy half the store. The compromise is Greedy Guts get an eyeful of everything she’s not going to have. If you see someone with vacant eyes, staring supposedly aimlessly at the counter while you try to get at the clotted cream around her, forgive me for being in your way, but now you know why.
Sometimes though, the staring brings with it inspiration. On a particularly late night grocery shopping trip, where my thoughts were also on the night’s dinner, I sampled a wonderful gorgonzola. It has been ages since I ate some and wondered if I could put it into a salad. But the cold night demanded something warm and so gorgonzola pasta was born.
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.