My parents were visiting over the weekend. We only have one bedroom, so M and I slept on futons in the living room, under a beautiful silk throw M's dad gave us as a wedding gift.
We visited my mother's friend in Essex. In the 1960s, they were both studying at rival medical colleges in Calcutta - my mum at Nilratan Sircar Medical College and her friend at National Medical College. We ate deliciously authentic Bengali food - shingara (samosa), paayesh (spiced rice pudding), lal saag (red leaves curry), okra posto (okra and white poppy seeds). Her older brother and his wife were visiting from Calcutta. The three of them had just returned from New York, where the son of my mum's friend works as a business director for a major museum in Manhattan. He and I were childhood friends. We were both only children and we bonded over a mutual love of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Now he lives directly opposite the United Nations on the east side of Manhattan, over-looking the East River.
My mum's friend is in her 60s, is a retired paediatrician and travels the world several times a year - Poland, Slovenia, Alaska, the Galapagos islands, Japan, the Amazon. Sometimes alone, or with her family, sometimes on an organised tour group with Saga. Her home is filled with books - from paediatrics textbooks and Chinese language books, to histories of Calcutta and novels in Bengali. Her greenhouse houses a contemplative Buddha from Homebase and her garden is ablaze with colour. A truly remarkable woman. We had so much fun.
On Sunday, we relaxed at home with my parents. We watched a mindless but fun British Bollywood movie set in and around Brick Lane, chatted and flicked through food magazines together. Then we met M's sister at Tara, the Kurdish restaurant on Green Lanes. Surrounded by Kurdish rugs and hookahs, we tucked into kebabs, lamb chops, humous, flat bread, baba ganoush, grilled sea bass and bright red Kurdish tea served from a chipped teapot with a rather dapper, extravagantly moustachioed soldier hand-painted on the side.
M's in France again tonight and tomorrow night, so I'm home alone, eating defrosted leftovers (chickpea, spinach and pomegranate stew), doing laundry, flicking through Grazia and Time, and dipping in and out of American Bengali writer Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter Of Maladies short stories. Enjoying time in on my own, but missing my husband more than I care to admit.