Thursday, November 29, 2007


Just popping in to say I'm still here. So much is happening and I'll write soon, I promise.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Busy doing nothing

A very quiet weekend this week. On Friday, samosas, chicken chaat, tamarind lamb and chicken and pomegranate at The Punjab in Covent Garden / On Saturday, a wander around John Lewis looking at LCD TVs and desktop computers /Getting my hair done and generally being gloriously pampered for several hours at the Aveda Institute on High Holborn / Eating ricotta and pumpkin ravioli, from Lina Stores in Soho, for a quiet dinner at home / On Sunday, a lie in as our downstairs neighbours had a rowdy night (as usual) and kept us awake - can't wait to move into a whole house all our own / Hanging out with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at home /Eating spinach borek and tomato, feta and thyme salad and clementines for lunch / Later we will devour M's homemade venison and beetroot stew for dinner / Afterwards, more chatting and maybe a DVD.

Hope you've had a chilled weekend too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The only one

Silent One wrote an interesting post on second children that made me think about my own situation. I'm an only child and, as far as I can remember, had no problems growing up alone at all. It was a normal situation for me. Because both my parents worked full time, I had a variety of baby sitters and went to nursery school very early and as a result I was quite bubbly and sociable and never shy. I had my parents' undivided attention during evenings and weekends, and I was included whenever their adult friends visited. And of course I had my nursery, primary and secondary school friends too.

I was also very content to be on my own. I had an active imagination and could while away many hours alone in my own world. I loved reading as much as playing, and my mum says today that frequently she would not hear me for hours even if we were in the same house! In short, I think I was a very well-adjusted only child.

It was only as an adult, and no longer cushioned from life by my parents, that I began wondering what it would be like to have a sibling or two to share the ups and downs of life with. I know relationships with siblings are not guaranteed to be smooth nor are many of them that close, but the unspoken bond based on shared history and biology is something I sometimes wish I had for myself now.

M is really close to his siblings. He doesn't see them often, but when they get together their pleasure at seeing one another and their natural, unguarded interaction is a delight to witness.

And my father comes from a large family. Because all his siblings are in India, he sees them extremely infrequently. Years go by. But when they finally see one another, their genetic and social history binds them together in such a way that the fact that years have passed means nothing. Again, it's a joy to watch.

I am extremely close to my parents and so the need for a familial bond is satisfied. Moreover, I am married now and am creating my own family unit with M. But when my parents are no longer here? ... If I didn't have M in my life, if I was truly alone, I wonder how much "existential" loneliness I would feel - perhaps a fair bit...

All this, for some reason, doesn't make me want to necessarily have more than one child. But then again, who knows...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ashes to ashes

Saturday began with signing yet more papers at our estate agents. We were due to get the survey from The Woolwich last week; when we didn't, our estate agent called them and were told that they were battling a huge backlog of work and we were in a queue of three weeks. We instructed our agent to switch to Cheltenham & Gloucester who assured us they would take just one week. Everyone on the upward chain is keen to move as they now have their surveys sorted. Once the survey comes through, and providing it is fine, then exchanging contracts should be straight forward and we could move in before Christmas. The waiting game is nerve-wracking, especially for an impatient girl as myself.

Afterwards, we took the Tube to Sloane Square to visit the Eyes Of An Island - Japanese Photography 1945 - 2007 exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery. The show wasn't as comprehensive, nor as dazzling as the blockbuster survey of Japanese photography we saw at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum Of Photography last month (which I promise one day I will write about), but it was a good show for London as exposure to Japanese photography is still nascent here. Photographers on show were Shomei Tomatsu, Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Hamaya, Shigeichi Nagano, Hiromi Tsuchida, Eikoh Hosoe, the sublime Hiroshi Sugimoto (above), Ryuji Miyamoto, Naoya Hatakeyama and Nobuyoshi Araki.

Fancying some Lebanese food for lunch, we tried to get into the terrific Al-Dar on the Kings Road, but as usual it was packed out so as we were heading back into town we got off at Green Park and went into the Beiteddine Express on Clarges Street in Mayfair. There we lunched on lamb shawarma and selection of vegetarian mezze - battara harra (cubes of potatoes fried with garlic and coriander), vine leaves (stuffed with rice, parsley, chick peas, mint, lemon juice and olive oil), tabbouleh (parsley, tomatoes, lemon juice, mint, crushed wheat and olive oil), baba ghanouj (grilled aubergines with sesame oil, lemon juice), houmous, and bamia bizeit (okra cooked with tomatoes, onion, garlic and oil). The lamb was very good, but the vegetable dishes, though tasty, were too salty and oily for me.

We tried to get into the Lonely Prophets - German Art From 1910 To The 1930s exhibition at Agnew's on Old Bond Street but as is usual at these tiny dealer galleries, it was shut despite supposedly being open. I vented my frustration with a wander around DKNY instead!

All was forgotten by the time we entered into the Haunch of Venison and the gentle aroma of ashy temple incense suffused and calmed our bodies. Zhang Huan's Ash exhibition, above and below, featured canvasses and sculptures made from the ash remains of incense sticks burnt at temples in Shanghai. From fine dust to coarse flakes, the encrusted and thick impasto pieces were haunting and transcendent. The smells, the intimations of life and death, the organic matter - all put this work in the lofty realms of Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys. Most striking was the slumbering, hulking, 5 metre high Smoking Buddha statue on the top floor - made entirely of ash, encrusted with incense sticks and prayers and other temple artifacts. I truly felt like dropping to my knees in holy and unholy adoration.

"To some, ash seems useless and insubstantial; it is a short-lived witness to human spirituality and spiritual practice. To me, ashes carry unseen sedimentary residue, and tremendous human data about the collective and individual subconscious" - Zhang Huan.
I wish I could urge you to see it; I wish I could see it again. Alas, the show ended yesterday.

We quickly popped into Liberty to stock up on more of my favourite Kiehl's cucumber body cleanser, and into Pages on Shaftesbury Avenue to admire Bodum's cast iron tea pot (left) which I may buy for M for Christmas. I love buying presents that I too can benefit from!. Then we settled in to watch David Cronenberg's riveting, well-paced, chilling and kinetically-violent Eastern Promises, at the Odeon Covent Garden, set in the dark Russian underworld in London. Predictably, the movie has had mixed reviews from the professional critics but I didn't look at my watch once during its 100 minutes and I was swept along by the story. London looked pretty good too in all that rain and darkness.

We picked up some chocolate eclairs from Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street then headed home, where M made us beef steaks, fries and a tomato salad for dinner. Snuggling into the sofa with steaming mugs of 2nd flush Darjeeling and the chocolate eclairs, we ended the day watching the companion piece to Eastern Promises, The History Of Violence on DVD, also by Cronenberg, also featuring Viggo Mortensen.

Sunday is, as usual, shaping up to be a quieter affair. A lie in (8.30 for me, 10.30 for M), a leisurely breakfast of eggs on toast, grocery shopping, cleaning the house and doing laundry, then generally taking it easy. I'll finish reading Roopa Farooki's slightly cliched and poorly written but still enjoyable chick lit Bitter Sweets and will indulge in my guilty pleasure of reading Oprah magazine. I say guilty, because it's not a magazine I'd read on the Tube - I always feel a little too young to read a magazine pitched at a middle-aged audience, but article titles such as Love At Last - Just When You Think You've Missed Your Moment, or When The Going Gets Tough... 3 Rules To Pull You Through, or The Two-week Plan That Will Reset Your Body Clock, combined with that relentlessly positive Oprah attitude, get me every time!

Later this afternoon, I may snuggle in for a few episodes of The Waltons on DVD on my own while M is at the gym and then, with him, watch a few episodes of Hill Street Blues on DVD. I may start reading another novel. Which to choose? I love browsing through our book shelves working out which book takes my fancy - the anticipation is sometimes better than the reading. My sister-in-law is coming for dinner tonight and we'll eat roast chicken with pearl barley, walnut and raisin stuffing, chat loads and perhaps watch another movie.

Tomorrow, a friend is staying with us and we'll be gathering with other friends for dinner. What a lovely Monday it should be. I rarely get the Monday morning blues as I'm blessed enough to have work that is still really interesting and sometimes even exciting. But I am sad when the weekend is over because that's my time to do exactly what I want, with no deadlines and no obligations. It's all about me, me, me. Well, and him, him, him ♥.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I never blog about my clients here, but last night was just too exciting to not mention it. Our company worked with Apple and O2 to develop the iPhone for the UK. Developers had been working night and day within a very tight timeline to bring it to life. Last night, at the end of the working day, when most people would usually be in the pub, 50 developers or so plus our two MDs, the client services (including me) and project management teams and the senior client began the countdown to 6.02pm. Then we watched on the console as the first person bought then activated their iPhone - at 6.03! As the minutes ticked by, the console became a hive of Matrix-like activity with sales and activations streaming down the screen. The developers will be there most of the weekend keeping an eye on things.

I finally dragged myself away from the fun to meet M for a lovely Thai dinner at the Thai Garden Cafe on Museum Street. As I walked there to meet him, I spotted three people playing with their iPhones along Oxford Street. We ate green curry with soft shell crab and red curry with beef. Then we popped into the Waitrose in the Brunswick to buy spotted dick with custard for dessert at home.

It's strange as I have no inclination to buy an iPhone right now - I'm waiting for it to go 3G - but last night I kept waking up from dreams of owning an iPhone, playing with it and showing it off to strangers and friends. I've spent over 4 months with this project and I'm delighted the launch went so well.

And even more to celebrate - it's the weekend!

Monday, November 05, 2007


Friday night after work is for puttering around the new John Lewis Food Hall, picking at whatever takes our fancy for the weekend ahead - fig bread, Camembert cheese, a variety of pasta, a variety of chocolate, plain and lemon cheesecakes, fresh peas, wild blueberry jam and marmalade - then returning home to cook a moreish dinner of paneer, peas and pumpkin curry.

Saturday is for puttering around town... Lying in very late, reading the newspaper over breakfast with the sun streaming in through the kitchen window, then signing more papers at our estate agents / Strolling down Tottenham Court Road, popping into This Is Furniture, BoConcept and Heal's appraising the merits of different styles of wardrobes, sofas and beds to fill the extra space our new house will have / Eating delicious chargrilled bacon cheeseburgers and fries with garlic mayo at Hamburger Union / Being dazzled by the colour and scale of Shirana Shahbazi's photos and paintings at the Barbican / Crying buckets at the viewing of complex Korean family drama Family Ties by Kim Tae-Yong, also at the Barbican as part of the Korean Film Festival / Walking by the new house and feeling fuzzy, warm and gratified at seeing not just how quiet the area is on a Saturday night and how great the house looks, but by the big, bold Sold sign outside it too / Eating only big bowls of grapes, plums and clementines for dinner while catching up on the thrilling Arsenal v. Man Utd game on Match Of The Day.

Sunday is for puttering around the house... Lying in very late, then breakfasting on toasted crusty white bread with melting slices of smelly Camembert and sweet as can be blueberry jam / Doing laundry / Vacuuming / Dusting / Cleaning floors / Planning the week's dinners - moussaka, tom yun goong, lamb and apricot stew, chickpea and spinach curry - then shopping locally for groceries / Vegging out with creamy Lindt milk chocolate and a chick flick movie Dinner With Friends, not feeling guilty at all while M is sweating it out at the gym / M cooking ahead just as my parents used to do every Sunday - boiling chicken wings into chicken stock for the tom yun goong, slow cooking the tomatoes and grilling the aubergines for the moussaka, part-cooking the lamb for the stew - to save time after work (he gets so much pleasure out of cooking, lucky for me) / Lunching on Heinz tomato soup and crusty white bread with lots of butter melting on top / Eating M's sea bream with fried potatoes and spinach for dinner / Catching up with parents on the phone / Watching old episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVD while eating lemon cheesecakes.

How has your weekend been?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Drawing in

It's been quiet since my last post. Snuggling in is now my favourite activity: work hard all day then come home, cook comfort food - roasted vegetables, Hungarian goulash, spaghetti and tomato sauce - and then settle in with my husband, an interiors magazine and the TV. A lot of early nights - by 9 I'm shattered. I haven't even been bothered to switch on the computer. We spent the weekend with my parents at their home in Norfolk. My mother's knee operation was a success and though her full recovery will take a little more time, she happily fussed over us and cooked us lamb, minced beef and cauliflower curries. I am sure this Saturday will be activity filled: browsing furniture and computers, visiting a gallery or two, perhaps a movie. But I am also sure Sunday will be as chilled as can be. The house purchase is moving along. Many forms have been filled out and signed and posted. We're just waiting for the surveyor's report now. Not much we can do until then. Well, sleeeeep of course...