Monday, March 17, 2008

'i have an impeccable memory' or 'who are you? oh. hey ma.'

my memory confuses me. for the most part, i forget everything. i'm constantly berated for forgetting "vital" and "fascinating" details about friends' lives: their majors in school, what they do for a living, their dreams, etc. my inability to remember anything has annoyed me to the point where i actually decided to improve my brain's agility, memory, and overall well-being by buying a pack of mensa problem solving cards from the local toy store one gloomy sunday. i convinced three other friends to do the same, and we sat in a bar for the rest of the afternoon drinking guinness and hunched over the table scratching our heads.

it was the right ratio of nerdy and superfun, and our brains managed to slyly circumvent the secret competitiveness among us by making us each good at different things: ashley with the color problems, cathy with the number puzzles, stefania with the word questions, and me with the spatial orientation ones. turns out that we all sucked at the narrative problems (a man is found dead in a forest surrounded by village idiots and one purple did he die, etc etc), and we announced that the answers to all of those were 'STUPID,' anyway. out loud. and louder, around the third beer.

'what's so confusing about the fact that you're retarded, annie?' i hear you asking rudely. oddly enough, there are very particular things that i remember very vividly, and for no apparent reason.


exhibit a. this article that the weekend journal once published on air spores in five-star hotels

i started reading the wall street journal when i was in high school, not because i was an obnoxious overachiever, but because my dad subscribed to it and it was always looking sad on the coffee table all by its lonesome. every friday, they come out with the weekend journal, which publishes front page articles that are always random and usually interesting.

i was having lunch with one of the mumbai beat reporters for the journal recently, and he was telling me all about his experiences reporting for bloomberg before moving to the wsj. he was pretty chatty, so i wasn't worried about the conversation dying, but i usually start feeling like i should be actively contributing to a conversation after i've been silent for a minute or so.

'hey!' i interjected with the air of someone who has something interesting to say. 'did you know anyone who ever wrote for the weekend journal?' he blinked twice. 'because i remember this GREAT article they published on the front page of that section once that was about air quality in five-star hotels. they took all of these petri dishes and set them down in some of the top hotels in a few metropolitan cities and let them sit around for awhile. the results were pretty revolting. i thought it was really interesting.'

why do i remember this article? i think my brain is malfunctioning, and would like to exchange it for a different one.


exhibit b: a photo of my friend ben on the front page of the health section in the nytimes in 2002

about 6 months after i started working at my current job, this new kid who looked vaguely familiar started working there, and we eventually became friends. during one conversation, he mentioned that he'd once been on the front page of the health section of the new york times.

'wait.' i said. 'were you sitting on your bed?' i asked. 'mm hmm,' he said. 'were you on the top bunk?' he stared at me. 'and were you wearing a gray shirt with blue lettering?' i rambled, channeling the nyt archives.

so. i remembered a photo on the front page of a section of the times that no one reads, of someone i didn't know, three years prior to this conversation.


the forgetting part i can understand. the renegade part that latches onto particular images and bits of useless of information is the part that i'd like dissected later. is it a different density than the rest? is it cross-wired to a completely different section? is there a crayon lodged in it?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


i am the youngest of three daughters. this is awesome for many reasons, including getting mellowed-out parents, lots of clothes, and not having to answer the door and carry on polite small talk when boring distant relatives or family friends come to visit.

however - it also means that i have little to no aptitude for making courteous chit chatter with these people. even at 26, i still have strong urges to run to my room and play solitaire on the computer when my parents' friends come to sit in the living room with my parents to drink tea and eat crunchy taiwanese snacks.

my friend's in-laws live in delhi, and they graciously offered to host me for dinner on one of my last nights in india. how lovely! i thought. they're around my parents' age, and are sweet and adorable. lok, the father, had just come home from work and was wearing a wool crepe navy suit and a cute navy hat. nirupma, the mother, was dressed casually in a t-shirt and flowy pants, and had glasses.

they showed me into the living room, which has a lovely sitting area filled with custom made, well-designed furniture (dark wooden end tables with glass tops), and beautiful paintings that were done by niru. niru filled some glass bowls with peanuts and almonds, lok made all of us small glasses of gin to sip, and we all leaned back and crossed our legs in anticipation of civilized conversation.

this night, i learned that this is what civilized people talk about:
  • petrol, the 1 lakh tata, traffic in delhi vs mumbai, and sustainable energy
  • the busy indian social calendar, and is it gauche to wear the same outfit to multiple weddings if you are to attend more than 10 weddings during one winter?
  • the fine art of buying a nice, hand-woven rug. also, what's the difference between rugs and carpets?
  • american almonds vs indian almonds. why are indian almonds so much more delicious?
this was a startling contrast from my usual conversation fare. examples:
  • how many penises have you seen? were they big or small?
  • would you rather have a butt on your forehead or two little legs coming out of your chin? yes, you must choose one.
  • if i had a kajillion dollars, i would buy a yacht. no, an island. no, wait - i would pay someone really smart to invent teleportation.
after nuts and gin, we ventured to the dining room for dinner. we had a nice, brothy mixed vegetable soup to start (which i had seconds of). perfectly salted, and very comforting. for dinner, niru went into kitchen and brought out some freshly warmed halved rolls that she had spread with a little bit of butter and cheese. 'put these in between,' she said, gesturing toward the plate of sliced red onions and plum tomatoes on one end, and fried potato balls on the other end.

'aah,' i said. i like it when people tell me how i'm supposed to eat things when i don't know what to do, especially when everyone's politely waiting on me to go first because i'm the guest.

i separated some of the outer rings of onion from the inner ones to avoid overpowering post-dinner breath, took two tomato slices, and squashed a potato ball into the bottom section of the roll with my fork. i ate self-consciously; not so quickly as to suggest that i was the crazy forest lady who hadn't eaten for weeks, but not too slowly to imply that i didn't thoroughly enjoy the meal. like i said, people my parents' age make me nervous.

for dessert, we had finely diced fruit (apples, pears, oranges, grapes, kiwis, etc) soaked in cold cream.

on the way home, i thought about how, despite the fact that we'd only discussed things that i
  • hadn't known many details about,
  • hadn't spent much time thinking about, and
  • wasn't naturally interested in, what a lovely time i'd had, and i settled in the backseat with a feeling of comfort.
then it occurred to me that they'd reminded me a lot of my parents. my dad is chatty and my mom is more shy; we sit around and talk about things i don't know much about, eat dinner, and call it a night. it's always nice to recruit a couple of nice people to be your parents when you are away.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

blackberrys: not just for douchebags

today was my last day in delhi, so i thought i ought to do my due diligence and see a couple of historical things i'd never bothered to see earlier during my stay. i had been foregoing them regularly, in shameless favor of sunday brunches at fancy hotels with unlimited champagne.

i had gotten a couple of recommendations on where to go from a few friends, and set off this morning armed with a hefty lonely planet book and my favorite driver, manoj. i like manoj because he speaks english well and we don't get offended when we take turns ignoring each other.

'we are going to qutb minar,' i told him. i was going because my friend of few words said it was 'peaceful.' peaceful is a good place to start, i thought.

i fell asleep in the car on the way to south delhi, as i always do. when i woke up 45 minutes later, we were there. manoj followed me to the ticket counter to make sure i didn't get gypped, and i whined at him like i whine at my father. 'manooooj, i can do this myself.' also like my dad, he ignored me, waited for the cashier to give me correct change, told me that he'd be waiting at the car for me when i was done, and walked away.

the outside of the qutb complex looks pretty plain. nothing too exciting; just a short brick wall and a squatty, unimpressive archway marking the entrance. however - the things on the other side are wonderful to look at. the grounds are wide and expansive, with tons of ruins well-spaced throughout the area. the generous amount of space is jarring: it's such a palpable contrast from the back to back kiosks jammed into each other throughout the rest of the city.

usually when i'm out and about, i feel like the city is always yelling at me like i've done something wrong. PEPSINOKIAAIRTELREEBOKTATATHERAYMONDSHOPPHILIPS. it was nice to come in and have the qutb minar open one eye and half wake up from its nap and go, 'mmmm. annie. whaddup. walk around. enjoy me. maybe get some tea from the little man near the entrance. zzzz.'

i wandered around and tried not to take horrible photographs.

qutb minar actually refers to this one particular really tall stone building that made my neck ache when i looked at it. that's quite tall, i said to myself. probably really old, too. mmhmm.

after sauntering around for awhile, i got annoyed with myself for being such a lazy traveler. i was in a place that was historically significant, and i had no idea why.

aha! i said. i know what to do. i pulled out my trusty blackberry from my pocket and looked it up on wikipedia. it says:

Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193, but could only complete its basement. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys and, in 1368, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last storey. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tuglak are quite evident in the minaret. Like earlier towers erected by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in Afghanistan, the Qutub Mahal comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Qutub Minar is itself built on the ruins of Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi.

The purpose for building this beautiful monument has been speculated upon. It can take the usual role of a minaret, calling people for prayer in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. Other possibilities are a tower of victory, a monument signifying the might of Islam, or a watch tower for defense.

hooray! knowing a little bit more than i did before, i felt less bad about myself and continued wandering around. my friend was right: it was lovely here. so peaceful and quiet and


a flood of screaming schoolgirls burst in through the gates.

i grew up in topeka, and when we were in grade school, we didn't wear adorable uniforms, skip around holding hands, or wear our hair in pigtails. in fact, i didn't even think these types of schoolgirls existed, except for inside stories of clever french schoolgirls named madeline.

but oh ho! how wrong i was. they're all in india, they all visit qutb minar on otherwise pleasant wednesday mornings, and they scream loudly when flocking from one ruin to another. i was about to cross a pathway when i saw hordes of them running toward me, so i hid behind a pillar until they had all flailed past. children scare me.

i only like children when they are bundled in winter clothes, like this baby i snuck a picture of.

i was almost immediately caught.

after i'd had enough, i walked back to the car and said, 'next! to chandni chowk.' the one word my friend had offered on chandni chowk, the most popular market in old delhi, was 'crowded.'

on our way, manoj started lecturing me about how crowded, unpleasant, and generally unsafe chandni chowk was, and tried to persuade me not to go. 'do you need to buy something?' he asked me. 'nah, i said.' 'then you just see from car,' he suggested, which i ignored.

traffic in delhi is terrible. qutb minar is in south delhi, and chandni chowk is in old delhi. they're 10 miles apart, and it took us an hour to drive there through mg road. thus, i took my second nap since waking up 4 hours earlier.

yo. cahndni chowk is not that impressive. i woke up, looked around, and said to manoj, 'ey! this looks like taiwan!' he didn't say anything. i looked up 'chandni chowk' on the bb to see if there was anything particular in the market worth seeing. i couldn't find anything, so manoj got his way and i stayed in the car.

i did, however, demand that we go to karims for lunch. karims came highly recommended from both the family who hosted me for diwali ('Karims at jahma masjhid for non-veg delicious,' he had written in my notebook), and a good friend who'd gone this past weekend ('the goat brain curry is really, really good just as long as you don't think about it being brain').

it's right by the oldest mosque in india, jahma masjhid, which is very close to chandni chowk, and therefore also in old delhi. manoj started to get stressed.

'i know karims is by jahma masjhid, but that area is very busy. where is it exactly?'

'beats me,' i said.

'what?' he asked, confused.

'i don't know,' i repeated.

we parked the car and he got out with me. 'i will help you find karims.' as soon as i started to protest he just started walking. he walks fast, so i had to do those goofy half skips behind him to be able to keep an eye on the back of his head.

this time he was right; karims was hard to find. he asked a few people on the way, and it was a good 5-7 minute walk from the car. at the door i said to him, 'do you want to have lunch with me?' he said, 'ahno. i bring my lunch so i take my lunch in the car in the parking lot.' pause. 'ok. here, you eat lunch. then, 5 minutes before you are finish you call me, and i come meet you on main street. so when you are done, you come outside and turn right and go to the main street. i will come get you there.' then he turned around and left.

i was seated at a table of four that already had two people sitting at it, a younger man and an older woman, probably his mother. i caught him eyeing my suspiciously several times while i was looking at the menu.

'you are from china?' he asked.

'no, from california,' which is what i say when i feel like confusing people.

'ah,' he said, not understanding and furrowing his brow, but not asking further. then, a few minutes later:

'what are you doing here?'

'working. on business. in delhi.'

'oh,' he said, his face easing into a look of more comfort.

'in IT firm?'

'yes,' i replied. 'what do you think i should get?' i asked him, overwhelmed with the choices, and not wanting to try brain on my own.

'non-veg?' he asked.

i nodded. he took my menu from me, squinted at it for 30 seconds, and offered, 'the butter chicken, half order. ...yes. that will be nice.'

a bustly waiter tossed a plate of sliced red onions with a lime slice in front of me and whirled away. i was starving, so i snacked on them, even though they are neither filling or delicious.

when my food came, it was rich and tasty. the naan was puffy and the chicken was tender.

as i munched, it occurred to me that i hadn't printed out my flight itinerary for my early morning flight the next day back to sf. indian airports have about a billion different checkpoints for travelers, the first of which is a check to even enter the airport, which you need a printed itinerary for.

i got out the bb and searched for my itinerary to forward to my roommate to print out at the office for me. just for kicks, i decided to read my itinerary again. mmm 7am thursday, yes. arriving 10:30am, yes. mmm. departing newark? that's weird. mmm.

my eyes skipped up and i read wed, jan 30, 11:55pm...depart delhi.

'ah, fuck,' i said out loud. IT man across the table frowned in my direction. my flight was that night.

as i was hastily finishing lunch, IT man reached into his bag and handed me something from across table.

'my business card,' he said. 'just in case your company needs anything.'

'thank you,' i said, slipping it into my right coat pocket, thinking about how much more efficient it would be if my pocket were a trash can.

i called manoj per our 5-minutes-before-finish rule, and walked outside to meet him. i ended up waiting for manoj standing in front of a little man who was making these thin pancake-type things. he had a very efficient setup: there were 2 rows of 8 moderately sized dough balls each sitting obediently to his left. when he was ready for one, his left hand would shoot out, shove it onto the wooden board in front of him and start stamping it with his palm. he stamped it out until it was about the size of a coaster, at which point he picked it up and started tossing it around his fingers to stretch it out. when it was the size of a medium pizza, he casually flicked it to his right, where it landed perfectly onto a half dome skillet. as it started to brown, his left hand started in on the next one dough ball and started stamping.

he was very petite and wore very tight pants.

he caught me looking at him a few times, and gave me the same look that i give to people when i catch them doing the same. i got embarrassed, turned around, and tried to find interesting cars to look at as they drove by.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

playoffs every day

yesterday toward the end of the day, i was chatting with my colleague manoj, a good-natured, ultra-smart friend in the office. he's generally a quiet guy, very professional, and doesn't often initiate conversation, which is why i usually start obnoxious conversations with him not unlike the one i started with him yesterday. 'yoyoyo manoj. whaddup. what're you doing this weekend? clubbing? shoplifting? elephant taming?'

he giggled and said, 'oh no. just watching cricket. the last test matches of the series are this weekend. '

i keep forgetting that cricket is to india what baseball is to america, although they, along with almost all other televised sports, possess the same unique ability of putting me to sleep immediately. the only exception i can remember in recent history is when arizona was in the ncaa finals when i was a junior in high school, and there was some really good-looking guy on the team, so i watched every game. my dad was excited to have someone to talk about the games with, and although we were absolutely not the typical audience demographic, we enjoyed them. when the games were over, i would go back to my room and wonder what i was going to be when i grew up, and my dad would go back to reading the wall street journal, which is pretty much how i remember almost every day of high school ending.

i would like to take this opportunity to point out the fact that although i may not express any overt (or covert) interest in winners brackets in the context of sports, that it doesn't mean that i am disinterested in nice, healthy competition now and then.


this is essentially the same thing as:

congratulations, cheesecake! you were the most delicious dessert i had at brunch today, followed closely by fresh kiwis. pineapple came in third, and the strawberry mousse in an uninspired and distant fourth.

let's see how the two books i brought to brunch today fared in their battle:

hmmm. not sure how that happened.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


a couple of weeks ago i went to a well-known market in delhi called dilli-haat. it's known for being one of the nicer markets in delhi, with lots of lovely crafts from all over the country, and decent food. i was meeting a friend from work there, and she was running a bit late, so i was hanging out by myself outside the entrance for a while. luckily, there was a monkey there to keep me company. here she is:

hello there! your fruit looks so fresh and delicious.

as it turned out, my friend was running very late, so i watched her for a while more. here she is, sunbathing:

here she is, minding her own business while some girls fawn over their digital cameras while their packages of purchases wait patiently:

outside of the entrance to dilli haat, there are a handful of men who walk around carrying unclean looking plastic thermoses and small plastic cups shouting 'chai coffee! chai coffee!' if you want some tea or coffee, you hand them 5 rupees (current conversion is 38 rupees/usd) , they give you a plastic cup, unscrew the appropriate thermos, and pour it hot into your cup. one was bellowing in our section and passed the monkey. a few paces past her, he stopped, thought for a minute, turned around, and walked back the way he came.

he came back 2 minutes later carrying one of his plastic cups filled with water and put it in front of her. instead of thanking him for being so thoughtful as any well-mannered monkey would do, she stared at him and he stared back.

for those of you who enjoy labeled objects and maximizing photos to make them readable:

at this point, my friend called to let me know that she was very close, so i hopped off of the ledge where i was sitting across from the staring contest to get in line to buy two 15 rupee tickets for entrance into the market.

the market was, in fact, nice and lovely. it's essentially a craft fair, where it seems that 40% of the stalls carry stoles and scarves, 30% carry junky jewelry, and the remaining 30% carry ganeshes made out of one material or another. this is ganesh:

he is one of the most popular hindu gods as the remover of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and god of intellect and wisdom. ganesh is very busy.

we walked around and chit chatted aimlessley. because i own plenty of random crap already, i didn't buy anything, although i did see a nice pair of large cubic zirconia earrings close to the exit. ooh! i thought. so sparkly. they were a good size; about the same diameter as the bottom of a chocolate chip. '200 rupees,' the girl said. '100,' i said. '150,' said her stallmate. 'hmpf,' i said, and walked away. my friend and i went on to run errands and have lunch at connaught place.

that was four weeks ago. ever since then, i've been thinking about the sparkly earrings. i went back to dilli haat to look for them today, but to no avail; they were nowhere to be found. rats.

then, my really dumb personality spoke up. not to worry! it said. you're a big girl now. you know what you should get? diamonds. forget this 150 rupee fake bullshit. get some serious rocks.

ok! i agreed enthusastically. i left delhi and asked the driver to take me back to the gold souk in gurgaon (where i live), which is basically a giant mall filled with gold and diamond stores. just as i was entering the mall thinking about how much everything inside was worth, a uniformed man carrying a gigantic rifle cut me off and i nearly had a heart attack.

i went into the first shop and asked for diamond solitaire earrings. he brought out some diamonds that looked like he had gone just inside the entrance of the closest supermarket, reached in his pocket, pulled out a quarter, turn-locked it into a gumball type of machine, and received a small plastic ball with a colored top in exchange. he probably threw away the little piece of paper that comes with it and the sealed plastic pouch it came in and handed it to me directly.

bah! why are you showing me this garbage, i said on the inside. 'thank you very much,' i said on the outside as i stood up to leave.

i went to another store, and they proceeded to show me earrings i swear i bought at a claire's in the topeka kansas mall in the fifth grade.

i entered a third store and said, 'earrings. solitaires. huge.' the lady disappeared and returned with a small box. she opened it, and i was blinded. they were exactly what i wanted: simple, sparkling, and 1.6 carats each.

as i was giving bedroom eyes to the earrings in hopes that they would steal away with me stealthily, i remember an indian friend telling me about a story about how her aunt pulled her aside once and asked her if her husband was taking care of her. she'd noticed that she'd worn the same three pairs of nice earrings over and over again to a number of different functions, and when a woman wears jewels, it's a sign of the husband's financial health. if you don't wear enough bling, people start to worry. and when i say 'nice earrings,' it's serious. it's common for older women to tear their earlobes from weighty jewels and get them stitched up every couple of years.

gross. gross. gross.

now, to avoid this, preeti could have given her jewelry up and gotten it remade it into something new so her overzealous auntie wouldn't have noticed. apparently, women do with this with some regularity (once every five years or so). they pack up all of their gold, go to a jeweler, and have them melt it all down and turn it into new jewelry. they lose around 20% of the value of the gold due to losses during the melting and restructuring process, and this doesn't include the labor costs for the new designs.

what's the point of me telling you all this? ice is a big deal. BIG. a girl told me that she went to a wedding where the bride's parents gave the groom's sister a pair of 6 lakh (1 lakh = 100,000 rupees = $2500 usd) diamond earrings. it makes me wish that diamonds were a big deal in taiwanese culture. when i told my mom today that i wanted to buy myself a pair of diamond earrings, she snorted and told me to eat more vegetables.

at this point, a voice interrupted my inner monologue. 'these are nine lakh, forty-nine thousand six-hundred seventy-five,' she said. i looked up at her. what? '949,675,' she said again.

this is $24,190.12 usd.

tata just launched the new and impressively cost efficient 1 lakh car at the delhi auto show this week. this means that i could either buy these earrings, or nine and a half cars. if you're interested in knowing more about the 1 lakh tata, read my friend eric's article here.

i thought about all the gold and diamonds that families must accrue over the course of their lifetimes, and envisioned a treasure chest in my apartment overflowing with jewels, not unlike that treasure chest in goonies. i frowned when the mental picture of my apartment filled with jewels morphed into a mental picture of my apartment filled with 1 lakh tatas.

i actually look like this. no nose.

then i imagined myself wearing the diamond earrings:

not sure yet how i could ever justify this expense to myself, so until then, no earrings. perhaps i will ask ganesh! he might have some good advice.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

henry james visits me in india. henry! over here. we're going thisaway!

i knew almost nothing about india before i arrived. i had no idea where to go, what to see, or how to travel. luckily, almost every single conversation during my first few weeks revolved around the questions, 'where have you been?' and 'where are you going?' almost everyone named udaipur as a place i must absolutely go, and two trusted sources named it their favorite place in india.

what excellent recommendations! surely, i must go, i thought.

the way everyone raved about it, i expected to be punched in the face by impossible freshness, stunning beauty, and a saturated sense of satisfaction when i arrived. i poked my head out from the airplane exit and looked around. this looks like every other random indian airport, i grumbled as i walked down the airstairs.

perhaps the 30 minute ride into town will be more enthralling, i comforted myself.

as we bumped our way along the dirt roads, i searched for it. freshness, beauty, satisfaction. instead, i saw tiny alleys and average looking hostels. i was generally unimpressed.

the next day, i ventured around town. i chatted with people, boated around lake pichola, browsed local wares, soaked in oil during an ayurvedic massage, watched the locals doing their laundry along the banks, roamed around the city palace, indulged in rich foods, and haggled for gold sandals. all lovely, but not the enlightening experience i was expecting. where is the excitement? the overt fabulousness? the indisputable superiority?

i went to sleep that night annoyed.

the next day, i decided to stop trying. i woke up, sat upright, and yawned loudly. then i went back to sleep. a few hours later, i rolled out of bed and directly into a rooftop restaurant for lunch. here are the views from my lofted, cushioned seat.


to my right:

to my far right. trying to get this picture to focus made my shoulder ache a little bit.

you can see the people doing their laundry on the steps there.

i ordered a bottle of wine and some salty snacks and reclined in my little alcove. aaaahhh, i thought. this is so lovely.

then it occurred to me. this is why this city is so enjoyable: sunny and pleasant weather, calm lake waters, generous rooftop views, charming local shops, and narrow streets made for sauntering. now i understand. i adjusted myself so that my face was in the sun, and drank my wine in little periodic sips.

why have i pretentiously used henry james' name in the title of this post? he wrote a story called 'beast in the jungle' about a man who has this feeling that something amazing is going to happen to him, and goes through his entire life waiting for this spectacular and magnanimous event. he doesn't do much of anything except wait for it, and lives his entire life in anticipation. in the end, of course, he dies without having done anything particular interesting with his life, and he finally realizes that life has passed him by.

so when i spotted henry across the restaurant, i waved him over. we got a second wine glass, and lounged in the alcove together.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Joy of Watching Other People Cooking

part i: this is a picture of nigella lawson.

i like nigella lawson.

i discovered her new cooking show on one of my billion tv stations. i have few friends in india, and have been watching her show quite often, so feel very comfortable calling her a quality friend i've met during my time in delhi.

her show is about cooking things quickly and easily, so her producers are constantly putting her in cheesily setup yet practical situations i appreciate. for example, the other night when she was back from commercial break, i caught her coming home late from a party. she was wearing a black dress and jewels, and the kitchen was dark. she was removing her earrings and talking in her becoming accent about how she was craving some treats.

if i were her, at this point i would order a steamy plate of spaghetti and meatballs from the dumpy yet reliable and delicious place downstairs. she, naturally, decides to whip up some delightful caramel croissant pudding.

she proceeds to break apart an old, buttery croissant with her manicured hands and put it into a perfectly sized and immaculately clean cast iron skillet. in the meantime, the caramel she started a couple of minutes ago, which is comprised of mystery ratios of sugar, water, milk, eggs, double cream, and bourbon, is looking runny and rich and creamy.

she pours it over the croissant, forces the more cheerily buoyant pieces down with a shining, long handled metal thing which she probably got from sur la table, and pops it into the oven.

if i become extraordinarily rich, hiring a camera crew and brilliant lighting directors to follow me around and fetishize my every mundane task in such an aesthetically luscious way would probably be #11 on my list of Things I Must Do Now That I am Ballerifically Wealthy.

part ii: this is a picture of paula deen.

i really like paula deen. you probably should too, considering how happy she looks sharing a photograph with a basket of fried chicken.

i discovered her one day while i was channel surfing on the treadmill at the gym. watching cooking shows on the treadmill is good for me, as it significantly decreases (but doesn't eliminate) the possibility that i'm going to go get something to eat and start munching during the show.

she's from georgia, and the things i love most about her are
  • the fact that almost everything she prepares involves mayonnaise, and
  • her ultrathick southern accent. i barely listen to what she's actually saying and let the vowels wash over me.
the only thing i can actually remember her making are sausage balls. or, if you prefer, sahseege bawls. every time she said it, i nearly fell off the treadmill.

part iii: this is a picture of the swedish chef.

i love the swedish chef!

i discovered the swedish chef when i was 7. this is a flattering picture of him, although i think part of the reason he looks so good is because of the sears glamourshot lighting behind him.

swedish chef and i have so many similarities. for example, his experience cooking eggs:
  • Eggs
The Chef attempts to make eggs by persuading a chicken to lay some. The chicken resists until he threatens her with a cleaver. At this point, the chicken lays something. The Chef picks it out from under her, only to realize that it is a bomb which promptly goes off.
this kind of junk happens to me all the time. i'm also a swedish muppet, which also adds to the similarities.

as varied as my short list of favorite cooking hosts may be, the only thing that will remain consistent throughout the annals of time is this: i hate cooking, i'll never do it, and everything i make tastes bad.