Friday, August 26, 2016

Catching Up at Home--And a Bit of Overseas Banking, Food Shopping and Cooking


Thursday, August 25, 2016

We have all become so accustomed to being cyber-connected that when traveling overseas, the biggest handicap is not having access to the internet. If I leave my London home for five minutes, I come back to a string of email that needs responding. Imagine being away for three days--the backlog is overwhelming. So, punishment for the pleasure of being in Dorset, was that most of today I was chained to my laptop.
Indeed much of my day was spent writing. I had abstracts to write for the talks I will be giving in the UK at various universities. My speaking appearance at the University of Padua in Italy was confirmed today--which meant more abstracts to write for their website and more travel arrangements to consider. I caught up with my Dorset blog--three days of recording of sightseeing and English seaside cultural lifestyle (before I forget everything I did and saw). Then there was my paper to edit and a Powerpoint presentation to plan and write for my conference appearance in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Don't get me wrong: I am enjoying all of this work--it is, in fact, what I thrive on. But the heat!!! It is so stifling and so humid at the moment that I feel terribly uncomfortable as my laptop also gives off heat. I can understand that Brits have no air-conditioning in their homes--their temperate climate and (much milder) summers that our extreme ones in the USA do not necessitate it. But no fans???? I mean why ever not? Not only do they not have ceiling fans anywhere in their homes, but they do not even have upright pedestal fans either. I remember the first time I came to live in London in Holborn, my apartment was centrally air-conditioned. I rarely used it as I did not feel the need to live in an artificially created micro-climate. However, the first thing I did was go out and buy a little table fan from Argos for my bedside table--I had two of them and I used one bedside table to prop up the fan so that I could sleep at night. At the end of my life here in London, I had left the fan at the London home of my friend Loulou as I could not use it in the States (different voltage, different plug system).
Here too, in this Bethnal Green home, there is no AC and no fans. I feel as if I am in a boiler all day. And this time I am not going to buy one for just one month only to leave it behind when I return home. When I tried to open the windows in my bedroom (where I do most of my work), the sounds of the traffic below are so deafening and so distracting that I promptly closed them again. Not just traffic--I can hear everything any passer-by says! End result? I had to get out of the house in the afternoon for relief from the heat and although I was trying to give myself a full day at home to rest my over-worked feet and catch up on work, I did make two short trips outside. Both gave me the intense small pleasure of an air-conditioned atmosphere.
Would you believe I was so relieved from the heat in the Co-op (supermarket) that I wanted to linger in there? But I did! Having almost cleaned out my fridge before leaving for Dorset, I needed staples: bread, milk, cream, yoghurt, etc. I bought some chicken breast too, broccoli and onions and a bottle of Piri-Piri sauce: this is unknown to most people in America, but it is a result of Anglo-Portuguese fusion cuisine. Piri-piri, I believe, is chilli pepper in Portuguese, and Nando's, a local chain of chicken restaurants, popularized a dish called Chicken Piri-Piri. Well, having had much success with my M&S bottled tikka masala paste, I figured I'd try piri-piri this time.
Back home, I got down to the basement kitchen (surprisingly cooler than my overheated bedroom two flights above) and cooked Chicken Piri-Piri and a Broccoli side dish with cumin, fennel and chilli flakes in Balsamic vinegar. That was my food sorted for the next few days. Back upstairs, I chatted with Llew for a while, then because I simply had to get out of the heat again, I took a ride in a passing bus to Bethnal Green to do a bit of overseas banking.
Not having used the ATM machine before, it was a learning experience. The machine is programmed to give only a limited amount of money and since I am trying to limit my transactions (because Chase Bank in the US charges me a fee for each one), I was annoyed at the limit. When I consulted a banking assistant, she told me that for larger sums, I could go to the teller upstairs. But would not the teller charge me a service fee? Would I not be paying double? On this side of the Atlantic and across the pond? No, she assured me. The teller's service here were free and I would be charged the same fee in the US  regardless of the amount of my withdrawal. and learn. I know for next time how to handle it. Needless to say, despite the irritation, the AC in the bank was a pleasure and I lingered as long as I could before I took the bus back home.

 More telephonic chatter home followed--with my Dad in Bombay and folks in Connecticut. More work on my paper which I am trying to edit down to size to fit the 20 minute time limit of the conference. I have already found too much very valuable material in the British Library and feel a compulsion to reveal it all--must try to rein myself in. Work on my paper went on for the rest of the evening. I only wound up at 7.00 pm in time for a shower that I badly needed, a very late tea break (a pot of tea and a slice of coffee-walnut cake), washing and drying my dishes below, putting my food away. Then, back upstairs, I began watching 'Making a Murderer' on Netflix (which Llew had recommended to me very highly). I was not happy to have to watch it on my tiny laptop screen, but because there is no TV here, I have no choice. But Thank God for my Netflix account. I'd be bereft of entertainment without it.
I watched the entire first episode, then broke for dinner--my Chicken Piri is delicious (no credit to me--its all in the bottled sauce!) and the broccoli was just as tasty. Rum and Raisin Ice-cream for dessert--because the weather demanded it, and then I got ready for bed.

Nothing exciting to report today. I will still be playing catch up with email tomorrow as I still have some urgent ones that need responding.
Until tomorrow, cheerio....

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