The 189

189

Dear Ma,

I’ve reached safely. Sort of sorry that its taken me a whole of three weeks to let you know. This letter follows up with more.

The journey uptil Birmingham was comfortable and I made the mistake of imagining that every thing would go smoothly further on. Its me, Ma…can anything be right?

Nothing much went wrong though, except that I got lost.

Boarded the wrong bus, got off at the wrong bus stop and was almost heading towards the wrong city. I managed. You taught me well.

What I did learn from the incident though, was that bus drivers in the East Midlands are possibly the most helpful people on the face of the planet and people here in general are frightfully polite and impossibly patient. Can you imagine me starting and ending each and every utterable sentence with ‘thank you’s and generously scattering a few ‘please’s in between words? All those years you spent patiently correcting my tongue, has finally paid off. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I burst into colorful linguistics in the middle of a conversation. I’ll let you know when that happens.

I also learnt that its perfectly normal for a strange, balding 45-year old man in a fluorescent uniform to utter the words “Last stop, love!”, with me in his mind.

Rows of sloped-roofed brick houses, a chilly bite in the air, cheerful old ladies in cardigans with checked shopping carts and unmistakable accents.

After three tumultuous weeks, I have finally been able to settle down a wee bit. A wee bit.

Moving into the house had been easy, not without a slight hitch concerning the wrong code to the keyhold. I’m garaged in the 189 on Station Road.

Meeting my housemates was even easier and much more fun, considering the fact that we’re a group of four including a German, a Vietnamese, an Italian and me, of course. We’ve already been out on ‘pub-night’ and Guiness won the day. I’ve already done some cooking with it, by the way…a sumptious lamb stew, that left a characteristic bitter taste in my mouth — I think I still need to get used to the concepts surrounding slow-cooking and roasting. But I did oven up a batch of slightly-burned and juicy breasts of chicken, smothered in olive oil and herbs….they came out with extra-crispy, extra-dark and extra-salty skins. Not sure I’ll be making that anytime soon. I did try Alejandra’s chestnut-bacon-green apple soup too….bursting with flavor. Donata (German, if you please), has started swearing by it.

But what I will be making soon….at least, I’ve started  researching it, if you can believe that…is a pork and ham pie. Its spiffingly marvelous!

The all-covering pastry crust is wonderfully crunchy against the salty pork filling and jelly. And I like it cold. And yes, I’ve added a few inches to my hips too. What? Don’t look at me like that!

Pork and Ham PieThe first thing that grabbed me when I took the bus (the right one) to the University, was the size of the campus. You can walk yourself to death, honestly and you still won’t be able to cover the whole thing. And if you’re in heels (like I was) then don’t even try. Apart from that, Nottingham is downright beautiful. The cite centre reeks of party hubs, fish n chips and a large gong that chimes to the tune of the Big Ben. No doubt, the city’s much quieter than London…and more studious in a way.

We’ve already had a social trip to London, where we trailed behind Prof Lau….and no, I could’nt go down to Battersea, unfortunately (since we were busy loitering around the Bridge for quite a large part of the day).

me_barbican

I’ve made friends from 9 different countries, I’ve already worked with a group of them, I’ve been quick to discover the nearest Hindu temple, have found myself knee deep in post-grad shit (sorry) and haven’t been able to get myself a decent amount of Indian spices. Don’t give me that eye again, I plan to do that very soon.

And yes, you read that right….9 different countries, not many Indian spices in the kitchen yet.

More interestingly, I have come across a seafood pasta dish that I want to tell you about.

Its not utterly special or anything, but the simplicity of it made me wonder why I hadn’t tried it before. It comes from Hana, my surprisingly Vietnamese housemate, and the dish itself made Stefan, the oh-so-Italian, smile and slurp up every last morsel of it.

hana

sphagetti salmon

Spaghetti with stir-fried Salmon and Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets cut up into bite-sized chunks (no bones or skins please)
  • Half a cup of chopped portobello mushrooms (I prefer them quartered for a more robust flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 2 smallish spring onions, chopped finely
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Spaghetti – 2 portions (the size of these may vary according to who would be eating)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil to fry
  • Chopped parsley to garnish with

How-to:

  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, and save 2 tablespoons of the starch water the paste boils in, before draining teh rest of.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and onions and fry till translucent and soft.
  • Add the mushrooms and saute for three minutes on medium heat, before adding in the salmon and soy sauce.
  • Cook the salmon till the pices start losing the pink color. We want light pink though, not white.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and pour in the starchy water along with the drained pasta. Toss everything toether for a minute.
  • Serve with sprinkles of parsley on top.

salmon spaghetti

I hope you and Dad enjoy this one. The salmon melts in your mouth really…oh, the Scottish salmon, rather. 🙂

I’ll leave you now to get back to my daily run to the Library.

Lots of love,

Amrita

P.S.:- Shreya’s invited me to Milan for Christmas and now I don’t know whether I’ll be spending it there or at Cardiff! Will let you know!

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6 thoughts on “The 189

  1. Finally, i’ve waited for this post in many days now! 🙂 Hehe, thats why i needed to say “hi” to you on FB too 😉 Looks like you’ve been busy settling in England, and you’ve had much more fun than I’ve had 🙂

    Getting lost at the campus is also a part of the deal, but i can only imagine how irritated you must have been taking the wrong bus! I’m happy you can at least ask for help, but that would be impossible for me…err..almost:P

    Waiting to hear more from you!!! Till then take care and now i gotta run and taste the carrot cake i baked. The smell of crushed almonds baked in the oven is driving me crazy:P

    C you around!!! 🙂

  2. Oh I’m so happy that you liked the chestnut soup! I think I might actually go home and make it tonight. It’s frightfully cold in New York. And this post, by the way, was beautiful. It got me all excited the way that I felt when I went off to university a few years ago. Actually, it made me want to leave this work thing and go right back to school. It’s so wonderful living and studying and working with brilliant and creative people from all over the world.

  3. Hi Amrita,
    I’m glad you’re settling in and eating fantastically it seems! Sorry, I haven’t dropped by to say hello in a long while… it’s been a crazy year for me to say the least. Please drop me a line soon… love your post, you had me cracking up as usual lol.

    xoxoxo,
    Alpa

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