Hello welcome to my Blog

Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

Search This Blog

Monday, 31 August 2009

First Visitors and First Baby

These are the lively vivacious girls, friends of G's from uni, who were our first visitors at the house. V grateful for everything from a cooked english breakfast to having their laundry done to relaxing by the pool. They are off exploring Incredible India.

And Shiva our driver who has just become a daddy to a baby girl. C is green with envy. Shiva asking C what makes male babies. It's a funny ol world

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A month old

We have been in Delhi for just over a month
No delhi belly
No car accidents
No power outs
No lack of water
No floods, one rooftop waterfall
No temper tantrums, well only little ones
Not bad

Friday, 28 August 2009

Bedtime Stories

Our Kenyan bed finally died. Do I hear a couple of concealed giggles ? Well it led a productive and bouncy life but it was always going to be the product of a technical college on the outskirts of Nairobi and creaked and groaned for years. The fact that it survived for a quarter of a century is not short of a miracle.
So as soon as I arrived I went in search of a bed. Found not king size but maharajah size beds, 7ft x 7ft ( you would seriously have to look for your partner in a bed like that )beds with leopard headrests, others with shiny red Formica sides and hidden lighting that came on when you lay on the bed. Beds with gold bits and extensions the sides of which you would never believe so when I found one that seemed modest and acceptable I placed an order immediately. There was an awful lot of measuring and re-measuring because here they do everything in feet and inches and I have just come from a decade of centimetres. The instructions were, like my needs, modest. Queen size please and one where I could find a mattress locally to match the new bed. "No problem ma'am" I was told.
The bed arrived and was too short for our current old European mattress. I was in Delhi so when I arrived back home they had set it all up and squeezed the current mattress willy nilly into the bed so that it looked like a tidal wave was about to emerge from the bottom of the bed. "Hmmm" I thought "oh well I will just have to buy the new mattress and all will be well." Meantime I untucked the bed from its prison and it flopped happily and a little heavily over the edge of the bed but believe me when my head hits the pillow it thinks little of the position of my feet.
So off I went this morning to buy a mattress. Took my measuring tape and did the needful through all the pillow talk of the various hangers on. Found one that I thought was acceptable and paid a deposit and asked for it to be delivered. Well I could have almost smiled this seemed like an easy straightforward operation.
As I was sitting at my computer a few hours later the doorbell went and this is my mattress arriving ! I was thrilled. The mali and the delivery boy helped take it into the bedroom and put it on my new bed and oh no oh no oh no it is too short.
We looked at each other in disbelief and the shop man was rung. I had to pay for "cartage" back to the shop and now I am waiting for another man to come and measure. Meantime old mattress lolling over edge seems strangely comforting and appealling.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009



So how did we survive all those years back in Africa and other far off destinations? Here am I in this tropical paradise surrounded by hundreds of birds, chipmunks and monkeys and I have been Antsy ( superb word introduced to me by Catherine) because I did not have instant access to the outside world. We have become so used to it and so dependant on it, it is almost frightening and I understand that in parts of China computer addiction is being recognized and treated as yet another ailment of the modern world.
I am so grateful for the gang of men who came and in broken English explained how they were going to build a mast and set it up at the back of our garden and then connect us to the outside world. I was hopeful but also a little doubtful.They worked hard but also sat around a lot. Maybe they were hot and fed up like I was occasionally and it seemed to take forever but here I am online and deliriously happy about it and this is a picture of what it took. At one point there was one on the mast, one in the tree and one on the roof. They climbed with an incredible agility and seemed to be unconcerned at the possibility of falling or having an accident.The mast may not be the greenest thing around but it is already offering perches to lots of passing birds. It all went exceedingly well and we are wonderfully WIFI.Occasional hiccups, monsoons and tropical storms expected.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

British Council

Off to the British Council for a book launch by Mark Tully who has been the BBC correspondent in India for many years. Now retired I believe but spending a large part of his time in India. Recently knighted. Met some interesting locals who were there. A very respectable gentleman in a blue and white stripped suit telling us how his grandfather had taken the ship to travel to the UK around the 1900's and then headed up to Cambridge by train. Was greeted by an admission's tutor who chatted to him and pronounced that he was a "smart fellow" and therefore could be granted admittance to Downing College. However the grandfather had other ideas, strolled around Cambridge and thought the pond in Emma was more attractive and went to Emma instead. A far cry from the rigours and tests young people have to go through these days !

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Hell's Kitchen - India Style -

This is the material of all good contemporary TV programmes on making improvements to your home. If it wasnt so lamentable it would be hysterically funny.
My landlady, bless her, decided to modernise my kitchen so she brought in an outfit called Italian Kitchens Indianised. The name says it all. Several weeks into the project we move into the house and there is a beautiful black granite work surface which looks fab. Just dont look too closely at what is below.The drawers are so flimsy you think they will buckle with the weight of your knives and forks and kitchen implements. Within a week of being in the house, the wooden trim on a drawer is coming unstuck, the handle has dropped off another and one of the lower cupboards has decided that life is far better open than shut. No amount of shifting the items in it or the centre of gravity will persuade it to close.The cupboard under the sink was fitted with a bin but it wont close as it bumps into the other half of the door. Meantime the sink is leaking already. The edges of the cupboards have got gaps because well, because they do, and the measurements didnt quite reach that far.The skirting boards are made from left over wood of some other project and some cupboards are recessed while others are aligned. Even she rang to complain to them and now we are waiting in the vain hope of a makeover ....

These are the additions to the family

As we were walking in the field the other day with Tara accompanied by the new additions George turned to me and said "Chini is Tara's personal trainer!"
The second picture is of Yogi the stray who has adopted us and looks like yoghurt.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Indian Independence Day Celebrations

India celebrated its Independence day this weekend. On Saturday morning we sped through Delhi, an empty Delhi, eerily quiet with no cars or autorickshaws and Police road blocks everywhere with the army out in full force.So no phones or cameras allowed not even car keys. We were guided into the Red Fort and were seated on the ramparts overlooking old Delhi below. The clouds were gathering and a light rain fell. We had little towels on our seats to ensure we had a dry seat and were handed out umbrellas as we took our place among other heads of Missions and Diplomats. A Hindi announcer spoke in an eloquent and strong voice, children below, in yellow and orange, to depict the colour of the flag, were in place to sing and to cheer. Manhohan Singh, the Prime Minister, arrived at 7.30 am and took his place on the podium a few feet away from us and proceeded with great solemnity but also pride to unfurl the Indian flag that fell open scattering rose petals on the bullet proof covering behind which he was standing.
He talked comprehensively if not eloquently about the challenges that India faces and addressed issues from the failing of the monsoon to the challenges of swine flu and the problems of India's complex society.He concluded his speech with calls of Jai Hind and we rose to the sound of the national anthem.
The President's reception was at the beautiful Lutyens palace in the evening and again with considerable organisation and pomp we were guided in and welcomed by imacculatly dressed guards. Guards of honour lined our path to the great Ballroom. They were dressed in the finest costumes and belonged to an elite group all chosen for their height as well as their fighting spirit.The President, a woman, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, barely five foot tall arrived and chatted to the Prime Minister and to Sonia Ganhdi and other members of the Government before going on a small walk about and then leaving. While we were waiting for her to arrive we had time to admire the intricate and beautiful painted ceiling, listen to the music being played by a live band above and admire the sculpted and immaculate Mughal water gardens of the Palace below. This was of course the old Viceroy's palace with the cobra fountain and the beautiful collonades that Lutyens and Baker designed and built between 1913 and 1930. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the biggest residence of any Head of the State in the world.You might be interested to know that the Mughal Garden is open to public in February every year.The palace has 340 Rooms. No steel was used to construct Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The guests were then treated to buffets all over the palace which offered fish, cheese and vegetable bites followed by the traditional Indian sweets but also "assorted tarts" which I assume was an offering to the large number of foreign guests in the Palace that evening. We stood sampling the delicacies and chatting to a friendly crowd. The Ambassador of Bhutan in traditonal dress, the Ambassadress of Vietnam, our own HC with the wonderful and quintessential British name of Dicky Stagg and a small gentleman and his wife. C inquired what he did in the army as he had a large number of medals on his chest and his wife piped up. " He was a tank man " to which he added " Fitted in very well with my stature !" Delightful couple and he was a three star General and Chief of Staff. Who would have guessed !
After tea and coffee we all headed out, through the Durbar Hall and the Staircase court to one of the entrances of the Palace where old Ambassador cars with curtains and covers and red beacons would arrive to collect their charges. The light was fading as we left the palace and the vista of the Lutyens architecture was just breathtaking.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A week spent largely unpacking boxes shifting them from one room to another and feeling very hot. Only momemts of relief were dipping into the pool when we had a chance and then simply soaking in the noises and the scenes going on. Mercifully where we are there are no horns only the beautiful sounds of birdsong, peacocks calling and bee eaters swooping in kamikaze flights into the pool while we are in it. They too are hot. The Green parrots screech by and the drongos sit displaying their very fine forked tail. A birder's paradise.
The rest, well the rest needs a little patience and a little more work, the washing machine that doesnt like soap, a brand new microwave that arrived without a manual and with a catastrophic fault, the fan that the electrician asked if I had tape for. At the moment it is hanging but glitters warmly from the foil that is wrapped around its base. I hope you can see the intricate detail in the picture.We live in hope of wifi having achieved Tata Sky status. The promises roll in, the waiting whitens my hair.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

No I have not given up already, nor am I on a airplane back to Switzerland,( though occasionally sorely tempted) just had no internet and was busy trying to track down the container which did a now you see me, now you dont act for a few days. It took many telephone calls, some to high offices and others to lowly employees to get things moving and when it did appear it came to the gates of our estate. I suggested it would save them time if they reversed it in and then we had fun and games as the container driver tried to reverse but failed each time with Charlie and Anthony becoming more and more irrate and Charlie finally climbing into the cab to do it himself. I had to pull him away reminding him that our insurance would not cover broken walls.
Finally we gave up but not before Charlie had shouted and gesticulated, drawn diagrams in the earth and took the drivers arms to show him his left from his right. Breaking the container seal was another delight in Indian handling and he hammered away thinking that he would eventually manage to break it with nothing more than a spanner. Pouring with sweat we started the arduous task of opening boxes and unloading everything and it seemed endless as if we had moved from Buckingham Palace and not a small semi in Swizz.
We collapsed into a bed and slept badly in house that resembled a furnace more than a home. Was this the end of the road for me and would I just go up in a vapourous mass never to be seen again ?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Moghul Monument In Green Park

This is for my sister Niki who wanted to see the Moghul monument opposite the apartment.
Riotous Roads as observed by a hapless foreigner.
Yes it is a sea of motorbikes, pedal bikes and autorickshaws interspersed with colourful carrier trucks, sedate sedans and mad man-eating taxis.We counted one spewing out 20. No one is unscratched or unscathed in this seething mass of moving machinery. Order I hear you say order ?
Well not exactly, more like an up and down mad terrain course in a dug up city where no road has been left untouched in the frantic preparations to complete the Delhi Metro in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Ant and I have a bet on it.....
A lot of safety helmets are worn as hats with the chin bit up around the forehead but Sikhs and girls, the first turbaned and protected the second carefully groomed and slightly more dispensable, seem to be exempt.The more the merrier on a motorbike. Still cant reconcile the sleeping toddler and the motorbike driver I saw. SIZE MATTERS and we have come to call Delhi Corp Buses, Killer buses as they loom up behind you with frightening speed,screetching tyres with no doors or windows and exploding with humanity. If you think that being a diplomat or a big cheese exempts you from the fun think again. Even official drivers drive the wrong way up a two lane motorway to avoid having to follow flows and traffic rules.The face does not flinch, the speed only mildly alters as the oncoming traffic approaches and you are the only one travelling in the wrong direction. If you run out of road because all of a sudden a two way street is occupied by one lane traffic just use the pavements, if there are any. If in doubt about anything and anyone HONK - NO HONK anyway even without doubts.
Junctions and traffic lights are simply for lifting the foot off the accelarator but not real slowing down or stopping, merely go with the flow and hope that no one comes to hit you.If on the other hand you are tired of the days travails, pull over and sleep where convenient.If horror of horrors you come within a hair's breath of a crash or a scrape, say nothing, look blank, shake head from left to right with enigmatic half smile and carry on.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Good to hear that I am readable and accesible. Even more delighted that Charlie took time out of his busy day to post a comment.He must have missed the home cooking though I suspect with so many wonderful restaurants to chose from even in his high street maybe it was the company and not the cooking he missed.
We headed out at 800 am this morning for Ant's first full day. The pavements in spite the lack of sophisticated machinery are immaculate, swept and clean. The roads broad and leafy, we are travelling towards the diplomatic enclave which houses many schools and embassies.Local children in freshly pressed uniforms and combed hair are deposited at the school gates by attendant mothers or loyal ayas. A little different at the American Embassy School where drivers deposit children in the latest get ups and fashions. A chasm doubtlessly but one which is bridged by their mutual capacities to learn and grow.
At the school an air of friendship and openness and a melange as you may have never seen before. I sat with a Colombian from the island of Saint Andreas who had african american in her and was married to a Belgian and by her side a British woman whose ancentry hails from Yemen who is married to an Italian but brought up in old Rhodesia and whose family story and history merits a film script without any embellishment or refinement.I loved listening to them.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Arriving in Delhi

Well Hello everyone. I have been in Delhi for one week now, Ant has gone into his first day at school and I am sitting in an air conditioned dark apartment in Green Park ready to tell you all about it. Cyprus was great fun. We connected with family and friends, Christine and her kids came from South Africa, Thomas aka pigeon from Swizerland and the kids met many friends there. The downside was I did have to go back and forth to Nicosia very often to chase up paperwork for Tara.
She survived the journey but we didnt know where or how to find her. A man was sent to help us but he was less than helpful and we began an interesting 3 hour process of trying to locate her, complete the paperwork and go home with her. We were ushered into dirty dinghy offices, mercifully airconditioned where an official sat reading the paper. On his wall two posters "dont buy trouble" ( covert message to us perhaps ? ) and the Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles of India. Ledgers were produced and entries made, journeys to other dinghy offices, some of which were closed. Finally with a sufficient number of stamps and duplicates we were led to a little room saying live pets where Tara was sitting in her sky kennel no doubt wondering where the hell we were!We were delighted to see her and she panted her way to Green Park which is our temporary home while we wait for our container.
Green park has a main road which comes to life about 10.00 am. From fruit vendors to little provision stores to coffee shops and wonderful vegetarian restaurants it would appear to have it all. We live on the ground floor of a three storey apartment opposite a beautiful square of green with a moghul tomb in it.
Hightlights of the week :
Ants haircut at Shakirs for £2 where he was treated to a head and face massage like you have never seen before. He was laughing all the way home.
Visiting the house and meeting our staff, Shiva our driver and Kumari our smiling nepalese maid who is the spitting image of our favourite Nepalese woman Didi. We met our new adopted stray dog Chini who acts like a guard dog. T is useless in that respect. We met our neighbours and Mrs Kapoor the landlady. Fabulous middle aged down to earth matriarch of a large family. Totally in control and great to work with . She was responsible for a lot of the improvements to the house.
Our first monsooon. The heavans opened and before long we had water coming in under the back door. We opened to investigate and there was a gushing waterfall coming down the stairs. Charlie and Ant had a lot of fun wading through the 3 inches of water that had fallen on the flat terrace looking for the blocked drain.
Driving down two lane motorways the wrong way and this is with the official driver !
Finding markets with favourite goodies, enjoying the signs, "Deep Sewer Keep out", "For Bathroom Fixtures go to Hindware" and "Thailand for Sale 14,999."