Saturday, October 18, 2008
If you'd told me, one month ago, that I'd be confined to my flat in London for two whole weeks without the chance of any voluntary activity, I'd have thought you were nuts. Yet, here I am, housebound for at least a week if not two, as I allow my plantar to heal. Since I might as well make the best of it, I sat on the phone and called a few of my UK-based friends to inform them of my condition. I've been receiving a lot of very welcome TLC from Llew who's been phoning me several times a day from the States to make sure I am coping and staying as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
I spent most of the day writing an essay for NYU's Economics Blog of which I am the London-based co-ordinator and editing an essay written by one of my students, David Kim, for the same blog. I also cleaned up my Inbox that had over 1000 messages accumulated in the initial troubles I had accessing my email in the weeks soon after I moved to London.
I then continued reading Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies which is slowly nearing its conclusion. It is an immense tour de force, the outcome of months of research about 19th century sea-faring and the Opium Trade across the globe. In the vast amount of trouble it has undoubtedly taken to research and construct this novel, I am deeply impressed by Ghosh's effort and feel sorry that he did not win the Booker Prize. I also watched a movie delivered at home to me through Love Film. Com called A Kind of Loving starring a very young Alan Bates and Thora Hind. Set in the 1960s in the English Midlands, it is now hopelessly dated but I enjoyed it, if nothing else to see how handsome Alan Bates was when young.
Surprisingly, considering what a boob tube junkie I am, I haven't been watching a lot of British TV--this has probably to do with the fact that I preferred to explore the outdoors (much to my detriment!)than keep company with the idiot box. That said, I have discovered the UK Food TV channel and am slowly getting to know the programs--Market Watch, Rachel Allen Bake, Master Chef, etc. That, coupled with the old Britcoms that I have traditionally loved, has kept me occupied as I have munched my solitary meals.
Catching up with the web albums sent to me by friends all over the world allowed me to pass time--my friend Rosita Fernandes' 50th birthday celebrations in Australia; my Bombay-based friend Shahnaz Nalwalla's trip to Iran. It's been fun glancing through these pictures at leisure and feeling reunited with my friends though they are all over the globe.
As I grow older, I realize that friends are the most precious gifts we have on earth. For instance, Rosemary Massouras, my London-based friend, offered immediately to come over to my flat and take me out for dinner in her car. Based in Battersea, it is a fifteen minute ride from her place to mine and I was delighted to see her at 8 pm as I had a serious attack of cabin fever by that hour of the day. My next-door neighbors Barbara and Tim had told me about a good restaurant called Italian Kitchen,not too far away in Bloomsbury and we decided to check it out. Rosemary arrived with a bouquet of peach roses and a packet of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and thoroughly fussed over me while sipping a glass of wine at my place. Then, I braced up my ankle, wore my sturdy sneakers, popped into her car and we were off.
Italian Kitchen was packed but it was the sweetest little restaurant and took me directly back to the cobbled streets of Florence. Red checked tablecloths, a chalk-scribbled menu on the wall, waiters who said "Buona Sera" when they seated you, an impressive wine list and an array of pasta dishes to die for. It was worth the 15 minute wait. Rosemary and I settled on a glass of chianti for starters, then chose a plate of pasta each--she had Spaghetti with meat balls and olives in a tomato based sauce, I chose Tagliatelle with asparagus tips and smoked salmon in a cream based sauce. My dish was just scrumptious and I was transported once again, to Fiesole where my friend Amy and I had tasted the most exquisite Italian meals in the tiniest little outposts.
Rosemary and I chatted nineteen to the dozen--there was so much to say! We talked about everything--our international travels, our common friends, our daughters, everything! When it came time for dessert, Rosemary chose a cappuccino while I decided to spoil myself and have dessert--I selected a Tartufo which, in the States, is usually an italian ice-cream. How surprised I was to be presented with a marvelous wedge of Chocolate Mousse and oranges soaked in Grand Marnier.
Thoroughly cheered up by our Italian repast, Rosemary and I made our way back home, amazed to find that it was already past midnight. Where had the hours gone? Five minutes later, I was home, applying ibuprofen gel to the soles of my feet that seemed to have survived my little excursion without protest, and went straight to sleep.