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melbourne: so hot… so completely cool

I think I’ve only been to Melbourne in summer once before. Today she is gray and wet and from my window on the twelfth floor I can see buildings and cranes with little twinkling lights on top. Today she is what I’m used to seeing her like. People scurry like ants on the street below. They seem huddled in on themselves.


But she turned on a fine show for me these past 48 hours. She was warm but she’s just so fucking cool. She dazzled with light and sparkling blue skies. She caressed with cold when the heat became unbearable.


Melbourne invited me in to her shows and restaurants in little graffiti laneways and fed me exquisite morsels of food that seduced my tongue and my tastebuds. She molested my mouth with microherbs and creamy avocado and nuts and seeds roasted in heaven. She exposed me to oysters and slivers of kingfish served in little cast iron cauldrons. They were like magic. You lift the lid and tendrils of trapped smoke jump out at you and tickle the inside of your brain. The dish begged to be licked.. but this is Melbourne and I don’t think they do that here in public. 



I ate and I drank. Mimosas at breakfast, gin and tonic at tea. I walked the streets and took photos. Nearly too many to count. I celebrated friendships old and new. I talked and talked and talked. And laughed. And cried. I met women I want to grow up to be like. I met others I never want to grow up to be like… I even managed to shop a little. Mostly black. 


I learned about the myriad forms of love. Safe love and precious love. Reckless love and unrequited love. Everlasting love and complete love. I learnt that I can’t be away from my little family for more than three nights without wanting to run back to them. Desperately. Longingly.

I reignited my love for art and creativity and three years on, I cannot imagine a more perfect way to celebrate my Comaversarry than by being in Melbourne by myself. I may even be getting a bit of my mojo back… and every time I worry about not going forward, I look back and realise how far I’ve come. The recovery was harder than the illness but the journey back up to the top has made it all worth it.


Melbourne you seduce me. I will be back. 


Dee x


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Aamchi Mumbai

I had to ask someone for a respectable title for this blog post. Aamchi Mumbai means my Bombay and I’m glad I asked. Because the titles I came up with were only rude or vulgar. But then, so is Bombay and I refuse to call it Mumbai.

Bombay hits you like a bullet in the head. Even the clouds look busy as we descend. Then the big tall building come into view and you see slums and shanties, butted up against exquisite palatial hotels and posh homes. I’ve practically spent every summer growing up here but it still never ceases to amaze me. 

I am here with two of my oldest, dearest and craziest chaddie buddies and they have promised me 24hrs jam packed with food, fun and plenty of shenanigans. This is PG rated so I’ll mostly gloss over the fun and shenanigans and focus on the food. We started by checking in to what can only be described as a little jewel in the sky. Floor to ceiling windows, beds from heaven, a kitchenette, hell we even had our own little living room. And boy did we live!

After being ‘instructed’ (I have very bossy friends) to clean up, we started our eat adventure at The Bombay Canteen. To get to The Bombay Canteen you have to drive through an insane part of town. It used to be an old textile mill area but the mills have shut down. From the outside you see these filthy, rundown old building but on the inside they’ve been converted to cool restaurants and bars. The staff seriously surprised me by how passionate they are about the food they serve. They have real opinions on each dish and their recommendations did not disappoint. 

We ate. A lot! I can’t even remember half of it so you’ll have to look at my pictures. And I know this a fall from grace for a carnivore at heart, but the jhowar barley salad is probably something I could live on for life. Talking about animal lovin’, I also just tasted water buffalo for the very first time and was blown away. It’s like beef, but better. Yes. That’s what’s I’m going to call it from now on… Beef. But better. Once we stuffed our faces we had no choice but to go back to our hotel and be lounge lizards for the rest of the afternoon.

I am seriously digging Bombay this time, something I never ever thought I’d say. It’s dirty and smoggy and edgy and gritty and weird and humid and hot and slightly cool because you can dress right up or dress right down and you’ll always fit in. It’s non judgey in a random sort of way so we got dressed right middle and stepped out some hours later in the most horrendous rain I’ve ever seen to have dinner at Cafe Zoe.

After dinner we made ‘friends’ with a cab driver who ripped us off. So we killed him with kindness and confusion in this torrential downpour and got him to take us on to Asilo… which they claimed was the hottest thing since sliced bread. But even bread gets mouldy in the rain and so let’s just say the rest of the night was a wash out. Or atleast that’s what I’m telling you!

Thank god our girls trip was only 24 hours long. I don’t think I could handle much more. We finished up at Farzi Cafe which experiments with molecular gastronomy and even serves bite size pieces of blast frozen yoghurt drizzled with fart juice (Hajmola. You have to taste it to believe it. It’s truly epic. I promise). 


Ah Bombay. With your lady boys and plastic toys. You are filthy and fast, your buildings are crumbling but your heart is intact. Mine, not so much! Dee x


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tkd & pork crackling

I have a feeling this might be quite a convoluted story. In fact I think my husband might say it’s one of those Kumars at 42 kind of tales. 

In fact I know he will but bear with me.

I have a friend and for the purpose of this exercise let’s call him Ox Man. Ox Man is big. I mean reallly big. I barely reach his belly button. And he’s tall and he’s strong and he cooks like a beast. I mean in a good way. The best possible way. If you eat the roast pork he makes you will declare your undying love to him and his family. And if you, by chance, happen to taste the pork crackling he makes you will sell your wife and children to have a piece of it again. 

  
But this weekend just past we went to their lovely home for an Easter Egg Hunt and brunch. One of my children, I won’t say who, I’ll just say it was the birthday boy, had a conversation in the car that went something like ‘…Mum will Ox Man make crackling today? No son, it’s only 10.30am. But mum, why not? It’s the best…’. Wait why am I telling you this? Stop making me lose my train of thought!

  
  
Anyway so we stuffed our faces with bacon and eggs and birthday cake and chocolate and flopped like fat buffaloes all over the backyard. An hour later when I felt I could finally move again I decided to show off some of my new moves. No, not ‘those’ moves you filthy animal! My taekwondo moves. I’ve learnt holds and throws and jab crosses and insteps kicks and even something that looks like a proper donkey kick. (I’ve been training for about six weeks now and I’m so broken it’s taken this long for my fingers to even work again). 

   No, I’ll probably never be this good!

 
I asked Ox Man to grab one of my wrists, any hand, any wrist, come on Ox don’t be a wimp. So he did. I assure you he wasn’t even using 1% of his full strength. And before I could even do my cool defense move, sorry, my highest defense, he fell to the floor begging for mercy. Now I am strong, I really am, and I was pretty insulted. Dude come on, seriously, grip my wrist properly… And. He. Did. 

And I could not move a muscle. No. Not an inch. Not a centimeter. Not a millimeter. Not an atom’s width. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I could not release his grip. And he wasn’t even trying…

On the way home it hit me. HARD. Here is a man I’ve know most of my adult life. He is one of the gentlest, kindest men I know. We were in a safe environment surrounded by our husbands and wives and children and there was no real danger. But what if it was not a fake, pretend, I’m so cool show me what you got, situation? What if it was in a dark alley and a man was really out to get me? What would I do? How would I escape…?

It became abundantly clear. A man really is stronger than a woman. I’m all for women’s equality and all that but there are some things you have to accept. A man really is physically stronger than a woman

  
So my question to you is this… How would you explain physical limitations to your daughters? How would you teach your sons to be be kind and gentle, irrespective of their size?

What would you do to ensure your own safety? Would you take a self defense class? I am. And I know in a REAL situation my first reaction would be to get the hell out of there. But if I was wrist locked or arm locked or neck locked, I hope I’d be able to give him something to remember me by. (Preferably private parts that ached for a year or ten, a split lip, permanent scratch marks on his face and the desire to run to the other end of the earth the next time he saw me). 

It’s been on my mind. I’ve learnt a big lesson in humility and strength and in my own limitations. But one thing I haven’t learnt is how to replicate that damn crackling. Ox? Oh Ox Man, where are you?? Come on mate stop hiding, I swear I’ll go easy on you this time!

  
Dee x 


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what did Santa bring you?

We travelled a squillion miles to be here with family these holidays. We got over the jet lag by just not sleeping and jumped straight into life in this beautiful burnt arid place.  

   
We love California from our time spent here some years ago. Landmarks make sense this time round. Street names greet us like old friends, the grocery store welcomes us with open arms-they know we have to feed 25 people three consecutive meals over the next 36 hours and that ain’t no mean feat sugar!
   
   
So while we’ve done this all before, something is different this time. It’s like coming home. It’s cooking shoulder to shoulder quietly, efficiently, tastily, in a kitchen designed for two. It’s warm long hugs – the sort that stick all your broken pieces together again. It’s twin husbands, sister wives and date nights and girls nights and s’mores toasted on open fires.  It’s grandparents and aunties and uncles and cuzzies and chaos. It’s children growing up and talking to you like you matter, it’s teenagers telling you their secrets.

   

 
 
This time around the edges are softer. Is it because we’re older? Because we certainly aren’t any wiser. Have we grown up a little? Do we know now that it’s all not black and white but beautifully gray in between?
Or is it the food that casts a spell on us? The stupendous fresh produce? Is it the love and care that goes in to planning every single meal, the madness that seems so worth it when every one sits down to share shanks and turkey and bean casserole and cornbread stuffing and pecan pie? Is it the table laid with care and candles and colour and gorgeousness? Is it the tree? It’s bursting at the seams with pressies and we are all bracing for a VERY. EARLY. MORNING.

  
    

I could think about this till the cows come home but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to thank Santa for bringing me a family I’m proud to be a part of by marrying into. Thank god my inlaws aren’t outlaws! I’m going to ask Santa that instead of leaving something for me under the tree, he takes away all that’s wrong in this world. I’m going to ask him to keep my babies safe and I’m going to ask him to protect those I love. 

  

I’m going to leave a cookie and some milk out for him tonight… and when all I find in the morning are crumbs in the plate, I’ll know you’re never too old to believe in the magic of Christmas. Dee x


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honouring Paris

I will not be afraid. I will not stop doing the things I love with the people I love. I will not let fear rule my life because that is EXACTLY what they want. 

  
So in honour of Paris (13/11/15) I’m re-posting about the most exquisite little French restaurant right here in the heart of Sydney. 

Le Bouchon

Dee x


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what love tastes like

WARNING: This post turned out to be so much longer than I planned. It just goes on and on and on. Sorry!

My little family had the honour of being the token Indians at a completely crazy Halloween party hosted by a delightful Irish couple and their friends. Batwings on head Girl went above and beyond the call of anything I’ve ever seen. The house was truly the most haunted one on the block, the treats were gooey and bloody and oogly boogley and there was even a pumpkin brain with blood glooping out of it. Yes, it was a fantastic party!      

 
It was also there that anoder crayzy Irish woman in her delicious accent asked me what my death row meal would be – and without missing a heartbeat I said it would have to be mum’s pork curry chawal. I think it’s because you know when food tastes like love. You can really taste it. Food tastes like love when it’s made with love. 

Like the McDonalds curry Batwings served us that night. It was sweet and spicy and chickeny and divine. That was food from the heart. (I found out later, once I started to understand the Irish accent, that it wasn’t from Maccas. It’s made using McDonnell’s Curry Powder!)

That meal tasted of joy and friendship and was especially meaningful because a family opened their hearts and homes to us and welcomed us in. I also tasted Irish Poison for the first time. It burned a hole on the way down but my big brave husband said I was a wuss. He diluted his with ice and polished off the entire glass. 

I asked my son what love tasted like. He said ‘Sweet, creamy and soft.’ And my other little boy said ‘Mum, you CANNOT taste love but you sure can feel it.’ I secretly think love is a big juicy pork rib for him, he just doesn’t know it yet.  

I also think my husband was being silly but he said ‘Bananas!’ and so, because I am a ‘research scientist’, I had to throw this question out there.

  
In no particular order here are some of the responses I got. My brave and beautiful friend Twisty Lovely Locks said ‘It is soft and very gentle on the palette and the taste lingers…’

One friend said ‘Bitter-sweet, usually.’ And another said ‘Mostly sweet, sometimes spicy sweet. And when it hurts, bitter-sweet.’ I also think Fluffer’s response makes a great pickup line. Ready? He says ‘Anything spicy that will make your mouth numb for a while but will not deter you from eating the same for your next meal!!!’

Mum wrote saying ‘Love can taste hot n spicy or deliciously creamy n sweet….. Depending on the mood!’ My woowoo sister said ‘It tastes like warm sweet velvety Kaety Aunty’s caramel pudding.’ Wow mum, that’s huge!

A cuzzie said ‘For me barbecue sauce, sweet smoky sticky and yummy’ and yet another had this description. She simply said ‘Strawberries.’ Strawberries must be popular, because I just had another friend say ‘True love tastes like pavlova with strawberries and bubbles. But a picnic with French baguette and cheese and a lovely chilled white wine is love too.’  

The Irish must love their berries because Sheena said ‘Delicious raspberries drizzled in cream… Ah that makes me think of home. We used to have “organic” raspberry bushes (organic as in we did nothing to them).’

Lots of kids said ‘Chocolate mud cake’ and their mum is still thinking about her answer. (But she got featured in the death row question so I might not wait till she replies!)

Then there was Taz. She said ‘Wow what a question! I’m inclined to answer with something sweet because it has good connotations. It tastes like the sweet light fluffiness of fairy floss and meringues.’ I also love this other reply – ‘Rose petal ice cream, martini, etc. Rose petal anything.’  

And then this from Shobanana. ‘Love tastes like a full meal. From tickling starters, some boring veggies, some interesting side dishes, lots of rice to keep you full and plenty of spicy kolambu to keep you going. And finally the sweet dessert to satisfy you. It is a bit of everything that I taste. If it weren’t for it all then there would be no balance.’

But I think my favourite one of all was Zinn’s. It deserves two separate paragraphs. She said, and I have to quote, ‘Oh god! Love! Love is an ocean-wide banquet full of unexpected delights and jolts, sweetness and craving. It tastes sometimes as crystal as water and other times as heavy as buttery-sugary-to-die-for-mouth-wateringly-delicious-chocolate-cheesecake.

It tastes like the comfort of a cup of tea on a rainy day and the indulgence of melted cheese like a big hug to your insides. It’s so unexpected that sometimes you bite into a particularly sweet-looking kiwi and it tastes like chillies that spark a fire. It is every lovely, warm, sweet, spicy, intense yet smooth, crackly yet enticing flavour that I could ever think of…’    

I thank you all for sharing your answers with me. I suppose I must share back with you and say love is holding warm kind hands with the people I love. It is a hug that trigger oxytocin and serotonin and it is a cup of tea in the Bollywood Zen Pergola… my children snuggled up by my side, the scent of jasmine and the sound of friends and family talking and laughing. Bamboo swishing in the breeze, my husband stoking the fire in preparation for our marshmallow toasting night…and the moon slowly rising…    

Tell me. What does love taste like to you?

Dee x 


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lag jet and canola in black and white

Okay so we are just off a pretty long flight back from India. Mum’s 60th surprise reunion at Mahabalipuram and 80 parsis in one spot had us praying a tsunami would not strike. That would be a tenth of our population wiped out in one hit. 

 
  (This isn’t even the whole group. Just the immediate family on dad’s side !)

A twelve hour stop over in Singapore was probably not the best idea in terms of ‘just get us home already’ but we did get to eat Singapore Chilli Crab at Dempsey Hill after two years and I wouldn’t swap that for the world. 
  (Photo courtesy R1)

As I start this next paragraph it occurs to me that I have just, for the first time, referred to Sydney as home and India as India. Did I just swap the language I used to use? India is the zig to my zag. It’s the colour to Sydney’s black. It’s the smells and the sounds and the dirt and the chaos to the order and the clean of home. My god, it must mean I have two homes now and this makes me insanely happy. 

  

I’m so jet lagged at the moment, I’ve just drizzled my roast veges with canola instead of olive oil. (But I figure there’s nothing fresh rosemary and citrus salt can’t fix.) It also means that three weeks of fairly rich, but always delicious food, has now made me crave the simple smells of lamb on an outdoor babrbie. So I will leave it here. I must go hassle Mr. Husby to get our cutlets on. (I’m not being suggestive.)

Dee x