Tuesday, December 31

The Journey

Part I

I tried a few different starts to this post, depending on the various moods and colours it could take on. To be honest, it's hard for me to tap into what it's like to speak as Truffle anymore. In a sense, the person that was Truffle is long gone. Always positive, loving, energetic, enthusiastic. I'm still loving, superbly energetic, and excitedly enthusiastic. But I no longer feel I need to be positive whatever the true state of affairs. For me, Cinnamon and Truffle was a positive energy blog. Spread the positive energy, let it change the world.

Yes, but.

The truth is, I don't feel so positive right now, so it's hard for me to be completely honest here. Because this is supposed to be a positive energy blog, right?


And so it continues. The censorship.

I'll be starting a new blog.

So there's hope, there is a chance, and I will wait to find out. In the meantime, I'll keep writing, I'll keep eating, and I'll keep talking about life, love and the arts. I'm dying to tell you the blog's name, but I can't until it's released. Otherwise you lot are going to google it and see all of our construction efforts, right? Which is what I want to avoid.

So here it goes, I'm taking the plunge.

Guys, you have all been really supportive of this blog. So many thoughts, ideas, recipes, smiles. It was all worth it for that, and for the fantastic joy I got out of writing these posts. I reread a draft I hadn't published yet, a story I started about our cook at home when I was young(er). And it made me smile. It made me laugh, in a way I hadn't for a while. And I missed the writing. Thank you for being there for us, for reading what we wrote, for looking at our photographs, for sharing it with your friends, for smiling at the thought of 'Cinnamon and Truffle'.

I will see you again, this time with (probably) my own name. Which is Radhika.

Lots of love to you all.

Part II

The above was written some days ago, and it's a true expression of how I felt at the time. Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while will know how difficult I find it sometimes to express myself freely, without being afraid of the opinions of others crashing down on me. I've come a long way, thankfully, and this blog has been one of the reasons. It's been one of the stepping stones on my path. The other is Resonance.

Before I leave, I'd like to give you my last post, the one I referred to above. It made me smile when I was reading it, and I hope it does the same for you.

Part III

I miss Solai

Some of you will remember Solai. She joined our family as a cook when I was about 11 years old. I remember the evening she arrived. My mother, Tamarind (my new blog name for my younger sister, Rice Krispie), and I had just returned from an evening out, and Solai was standing by the armchair next to the telephone. A business associate of my dad's, who was visiting, had met her at the airport and brought her home. She looked silent, nervous, and very thin. So very different from the Solai we all know and love now! For me, she was then yet another cook someone had dispatched to us, after a spate of misadventured individuals. One previous holder of the post had argued - in Tamil - with the cleaning lady - who spoke only Malay - about who should do the mopping, resulting in the cleaning lady leaving in a huff, believing herself to have been threatened with said mop. Another had been discovered stealing the beer and emptying numerous cans in her room after parties. (I always did wonder why she looked in a perpetual haze.) This was what Solai arrived at the back end of. I wasn't convinced anyone would be staying very long.

Our home was a pretty active place when we were growing up (I'm not sure that it's changed, really). Many kids, many visitors, lots of guests, unscheduled drop-ins, and house parties. Solai would single-handedly cater most of these events. (For the really major events, an elderly no-nonsense man would pitch up from my parent's office, and he would cook biriyani in a huge metal vat on hot coals in the backyard.) I don't remember what her cooking was like in the early days, but once she hit her stride, she was a seriously good cook. Our friends loved her cooking, and no one refused a dinner invitation at ours. Chicken curry, lamb masala, crab, prawn and aubergine curry, fried fish with onion and fennel seeds, kootturasamsambardosaikesari, amazing home-made yoghurt... I can't even list all the stuff she could make, and very well. When I was a teenager and back home from school in the UK, she'd make sure my favourites would feature at least once on the menu: that is, pan-fried Maggi noodles with vegetables and egg, macaroni and cheese with cauliflower and chili sauce, appan jala with chicken curry, that prawn curry with aubergine for me, and tamarind gravy with fried potato for Tamarind (now you know why I picked that name).

Solai was very vocal. She would yell at various people who came to the house - delivery men, van drivers, electricians, pest control - as well as various people at the market on Sundays. Sadly, she wasn't given the benefit of education, but her natural smarts meant that she picked up the few words of English she needed to get things done: "Eh Aunty! I giw $20. You giw me $5. This [pointing at chicken] $10. Back $5!" plus determined waving of fingers would usually get the overlooked amount of change back in her hands. She also seemed to have the scariest dreams of anyone I've ever known. If Tamarind and I were up late watching TV, she would fall asleep nearby, and once her dreams started, she would yell out repeatedly 'aathaiaathai!' (translated literally from village speak: 'mother! mother!'). She'd wake up, look around, and say: 'It was like someone was holding my throat and strangling me'. And she'd fall back asleep.

That's as far as I got with the post before I stopped. I was trying to remember what incident had made me suddenly think of and miss Solai. Maybe it was a lonely London late afternoon, when the sun had gone, and I thought of someone who would have sat down and told me what it was like in her village - how hot the fields were when she worked in them, or the mischief of her mother-in-law. And for a brief moment we would have exchanged something human - she, far away from her family, and I with a distance between me and mine.

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