After a largely uneventful journey across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and a couple of others maybe (pardon the poor geography), we (TH and I - TH = TheHusband) arrived in UK on Thursday night and since then its been one interesting experience after another.
The most interesting of them all is our brand new niece A. She gives a broad smile when you say "Good Morning" to her at any time of the day and cries when she's sleepy. She loves to stare at the paintings and photographs put up all over the house. Looking at lights is even more favoured and the most favoured thing to look at are moving images...i.e. TV ! She listens intently when you play music or sing. Her father's chest is her favourite resting place.
Rugby, the town where my brother C and my sister-in-law S live, has interesting views. From our bedroom window we can see brick coloured sloping roofs till far into the distance. Right now the trees are bare, save for some that are green all year round, and the locality in which C and S live seems very laid-back and quiet.
We went for a long walk on Friday and there were hardly any people on the roads. It was quite cold...7 degrees Celsius feeling like 3 degrees Celsius due to the biting winds. It took me at least 15 minutes to be able to walk and talk without shivering. Since then the temperature has been rising ever so slightly and so I'm feeling more and more comfortable. Or maybe I'm getting acclimatized. The one thing that I'm yet to get comfortable with is wearing clothes in layers while going outside. The days are getting longer now and this is what it looked like yesterday at 7:30 p.m.
The other night C&S made cheese fondue. Now, I knew what it is and had eaten it before, but never seen it being made. It is quite an interesting process. They have a fondue maker. It is like a hot plate to be plugged in to an electric supply. On top of it, you keep the steel container in which you add all ingredients, set it on at a prescribed temperature so that all the ingredients combine to make fondue. You take bread on a skewer, dip it in the fondue and eat. They had this detailed recipe that combined 4-5 different cheese varieties...cheddar, gruyere etc., painstakingly grated fine combined with some wine and some light spices (nutmeg, garlic etc.) It was very very tasty. Loads of cheese and some wine...what's not to like ?! :)
On Saturday we had gone to this huge supermarket chain Tesco for some shopping. They are trying out a new system since the last couple of months apparently. As we entered the store, there is a small stand where numerous bar-code scanners/readers are fixed. Customers having the Tesco club card are supposed to scan their club card under a separate scanner. Then one particular bar-code reader is released for use. There is a holder on each shopping cart where the customer can keep the bar-code reader. Then the customers proceed to do their shopping. Each time they pick an item and put it in their cart, they scan it with their reader and the price gets registered. If later they don't want that item, they can un-scan it from the reader. Once all the shopping is done, customers go to certain check-out aisles where there are touch screens and some mechanism to lodge the bar-code reader, complete the shopping, billing and make the payment by card. There is a shop attendant around in case you need help or something goes wrong. I am terribly impressed by this whole system !
Also, another thing that has impressed me is the way all the shop-keepers and shop attendants here behave with customers. They say Hi, smile at you, talk to you politely, if you ask for help they give it to you very warmly and when you pay up and leave they smile and say bye and wish you a good day. I have heard of people who have had bad experiences, but I haven't yet encountered a rude salesperson here.
Oh and within the first three days itself, that omni-usage phrase "Are you alright my dear?" has made its appearance in three different meanings already. In one supermarket, I stood standing at the flower display while C, S and TH went ahead. For a moment I couldn't locate them. So I was looking around a bit confused when this old man asked me, "Are you alright my dear?" meaning to ask me, "Are you alright my dear?" A little later I was watching the huge and varied display of fish and the salesperson asked me the same thing, this time meaning, "How may I help you?". Another time I was blocking somebody's path and they said the phrase, this time to mean "Please excuse me". I love this phrase !
Also in the Saturday farmers' market in Rugby High Street, all the shopkeepers were addressing everybody as 'my love' or 'darling' or 'dear'.
Yesterday for lunch C made Moroccan Chicken and Couscous. The chicken gravy was delicious. It had a perfect balance of flavours - sweet, salty, sour and spicy. The ingredients in it were quite interesting....they even put pomegranate seed powder and raisins in it. The preserved lemons taste super ! He had baked a bread the previous evening to go with it and I helped him make it. I used to think that bread-making was a very tedious process. But somehow he made it look so simple and quick. Also perhaps this particular bread was a quick recipe. Anyhow, I enjoyed helping him make the bread. The smell of freshly baked bread is simply divine !
Today TH and I plan to go to the High Street to just walk around and explore for a couple of hours and have an English breakfast as our meal.
So, off we go ! Ciao !