Sunday, May 23, 2010

Resurrection and relocation

For various reasons, I'm consolidating this blog with my other blog and moving them both to another site. Please visit my new blog at


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thank you, and goodbye

Friends, the time has come to say thank you, and goodbye.

For a while now, I've felt unenthused about this blog, like I've been phoning it in. When a good friend whose opinions I trust confirmed my suspicions that I've been letting myself slip toward mediocrity, I decided it was time to retire this blog and move on.

I've started a new blog, Messing with Recipes, which is just that: I love to mess with recipes, and one of the things I've learned by writing this blog is that I love to write about food. I hope you will all follow me there, and that if you enjoy it, you will tell your friends about it.

There is a slim possibility that I will post some kind of masala here from time to time (Mowgli is in favor of this, funnily enough). If I do that, I'll certainly let all of you on the e-mail list know.

For now, though, thank you for reading, commenting and making my first blog experience really lovely. I've appreciated all of it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Indian Breath Mints

A few weeks ago a friend with extremely adventurous taste buds offered me an "Indian breath mint." I gamely put one in my mouth and immediately regretted it, but I stuck it out for a while to get the full spectrum of the experience.

It was more tart than 80 lemons, and then it was just plain awful, and the last taste was something like liime rind preserved in shoe polish.

So consider yourself warned if you find yourself presented with a jar of this or something similar, and don't be taken in by the happy-looking lady on the label.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Citizen Mowgli

On Friday, January 22, at approximately 2:10 p.m., my husband became a U.S. citizen. It was the culmination of years of visa applications, fee-paying and test-taking, and it was, honestly, a relief – I felt my whole body relax when the letter with the oathtaking ceremony information arrived weeks after we’d thought it would. Immigration policies and procedures have changed at a rapid-fire pace since 9/11, and it didn’t seem all that far-fetched to think that I might wake up one morning to find my husband had turned into an illegal alien overnight.

The ceremony was meaningful but not overly long, and was held on the 28th floor of the Eagleton federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis. There was a short speech by a lady who works at the International Institute; she talked about New Year’s Day and a new start, Dr. Martin Luther King and civic responsibilities, and later stood for photos with several of the candidates. The judge (a bankruptcy judge, as it happens), also said a few words about the responsibilities of a citizen. Then came the motion to naturalize the applicants, during which each of them (there were 46) were asked to stand and state their name, country of birth and occupation, as well as say a few words if they liked.

And then, we endured possibly the worst rendition of the national anthem in the history of time. The woman’s wobbly voice made me feel for her, right up to the point where she forgot the words. Luckily, the judge was on the ball and prompted her with “bombs bursting in air” after which it was just a matter of restraining the urge to nudge my mom lest I dissolve into a fit of giggles.

The final step was for each person to approach the judge to receive their certificate of naturalization as their name was called. Everyone took a photo with the judge, some just the two of them, some surrounded by family members. Three of Mowgli's friends from work had come to the ceremony, so we got a group shot with them, my mom and me (and the judge, of course).

As we exited the courthouse, my work team (my office is literally across the street) greeted us with flags and cheers – something I’d known about and managed to keep from Mowgli despite his habit of looking at incoming text messages. Later, we celebrated with friends and family at a bar that was grievously underprepared to receive a party of just over 90. Someone told me they’d seen one of the two bartenders cowering in a corner, crying and saying, “I can’t do this.” To be fair, I had called to warn them that we could be that many, but the woman I spoke with had laughed down the phone and said it was fine.

Thinking back on the day, the most moving part (other than watching my husband accept his certificate) was a very short statement from an older Pakistani gentleman. After he said his name and that he was retired, he spoke about how much he loves this country and how wonderful the people are, and that he knew he had to stay here for the rest of his life. His words moved me to tears, and as much as I hate to admit it, reminded me that I am very lucky to have been born in this country.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti, again

The other night I told a friend that I'd expected making a dontation to support the relief effort in Haiti to make me feel better. When it didn't, I began to question my expectation, and was almost overwhelmed with guilt for being upset that taking action did nothing to help my mood. There were people deprived of water, food and medical care, and here I was, feeling bad about, well, feeling bad.

Is this the disease of the privileged? To feel bad while living a decent life and helping others when possible? To be unable to fully accept the good fortune of being born in a wealthy country to a loving family that made sure all needs, including education, were well covered?

This morning brought news of a new quake, 6.1 this time, that sent people screaming into the streets. I'm already considering a second donation, but I won't expect it to do anything for me this time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


All I can write about Haiti right now is this: The same sun shines on all of us, and reveals that we are more alike than different.

Please donate to the Haiti earthquake relief effort if you can.

Here's a link to a list of charities already on the ground there.

Here's a website that vets and rates charities so you know your money is not going to waste.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Kinks have a surprise for you, maybe

Hello kids, it's time for a little musical word association. I say "The Kinks." you probably think of "You Really Got Me" or perhaps the gender-bending "Lola." Or maybe you take the broad categorization approach and say "British Invasion."

Here's what you might want to answer in the future: We Are The Village Green Preservation Society. It's entirely possible you already know about and love it, seeing as how a friend said it's their favorite album in the universe when I mentioned it. But if not, do yourself a favor, go listen to a few tracks on YouTube or MySpace or whatever. Here's one, the title track, a bit slower than on the album, with a nice contrast between the prim, sentimental lyrics and the band's massive hairdos and late-'60s getups.

It's a concept album released in late 1968(early 1969 in the U.S.), the concept being to highlight endangered aspects of traditional English country and village life. Thus you have "The Last of The Steam Powered Trains" and "Animal Farm" and "Sitting by the Riverside." But you also have the philosophical "Big Sky" and the sweet, poppy "Picture Book." Through it all, you have straighforward (for the time) production peppered with folksy harmonica and accordion.

My only complaint is that the CD I picked up is so poorly mastered that it sounds like vocal mud pie, so I'm now on a low-level hunt for a vinyl copy (a friend has offered a turntable, headphones and the use of a listening space). I just have a hard time believing the Davies brothers wanted their affectionate gem to sound so smooshed together, and I want to hear what I've been missing.