Tag Archives: shopping

Shopping with pani puri.

Tom took me along on his shopping trip yesterday, to a few stores and shops including a multi-story big box that had features of a Super Wal-Mart, Costco, and a department store. The escalators were ramps that accommodated shopping carts, and we visited all the floors and departments, but never found a C-battery or anyone who knew what that was. Tom wasn’t very sure himself, but some new baby equipment wants them. Oh well.

I was fascinated by the many varieties of basmati rice, both packaged and in large bins where women in pretty clothes were scooping up their favorite type. I love basmati rice and used to buy it in 25# bags myself; I came home with a jar of the Brown Basmati.

The packaged rice is one of many products and ads that feature a photo of a famous movie star, often a Khan, or the “Big B,” Amitabh Bachchan. I don’t have a hope of keeping all these celebrities straight, but a couple of them have leading roles in an unusually good Bollywood movie we are currently watching here (over the course of three nights, because it’s close to four hours long): “Lagaan.” Oh, and on the route between the different shops, whose car did our driver point out but that of the very Aamir Khan himself. Mumbai is the center of Bollywood, did you know?

Women were also filling bags with large-crystal sugar from a great bulk bin.



We ate several pani puri snacks and another type of snack at a stand in the food department of the store. For us to take our fill of those savory treats cost less than 100 rupees which Tom said was about $1.10.


From this store we drove to that quiet neighborhood Tom introduced me to on my first day here, where is found their favorite market.

The shopkeepers know at least the names of vegetables and how to count in English so I was able to complete the purchase of some carrots, zucchini, peppers and broccoli while Tom went to the next stand where we found leeks and potatoes from which he is going to make soup.

Are those red carrots really carrots? I’ll cook them today and find out.

We brought all our loot home and then Tom cooked up a big delicious dinner featuring mutton chops, pesto green beans, tomato salad and more. It was the first meal of not particularly Indian food that I’ve had in ten days.

Baby “Raj” had stayed home with his mama. They are eating well and building strength and we are all enjoying the early Getting to Know You period. Well, not quite all: Huckleberry Cat has led a very sheltered life until this point and he doesn’t feel entirely positive about the strange creature who suddenly showed up.

As I write, it is a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve been holding a sleeping baby for an hour while chatting with Kate and Tom about so many things India, seeds that could germinate into future blog posts. Now I’m back here typing with two fingers to finish this one. My mind will immediately and irresistibly start gathering threads of images and impressions to weave into the next scrap of cloth I hope to share with you, of this colorful tapestry that is Bombay.

moods of winter

Yesterday I was thoroughly enjoying the winter rains and the signs of Christmas. The day before, I was in stores where there was too much junk crowding the aisles and it wore me out. But even there, other real people were shopping, many of them looking as dazed as I, and we were kind to each other.

Our city’s redwood trees are lit up and I love how the blue lights dominate, though they are only one third of the total number. It is a little refreshment from the constant red and green. Speaking of red, at one quieter shop I bought a pretty and elegant red top to wear at Christmas, and then I tried Macy’s, where the scarlet Christmas garb hurt my eyes and made me glad to escape. It’s a matter of tone.

This poem captures how it happens that in simple events and moments of time beauty and joy are revealed to us. It’s a constant flow for me this week, thanks be to God.

The way a crowP1120149
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

–Robert Frost

Wedding shoes to the background.

When our oldest children were very young, our church was an often-outdoor meeting on top of a mountain and the children usually came home with quite a bit of dirt and scuffs. For that reason I dressed them in play clothes and we saved the fancier stuff for weddings. That’s how whatever little patent-leather Mary-Janes Pearl had in her closet came to be called Wedding Shoes. She was always very happy to have a reason to dress up in them.

In the last several years I have wanted to wear a special sort of shoe to weddings, specifically something with a bit of a heel when I have held the office of Mother of the Bride. In my daily life and for every other fancy event I normally require foot gear that keeps me closer to horizontal, and I’m not even very skilled at walking in the most moderately elevated pumps.

You are probably guessing that this is all an intro to the news that I am going to be Mother of the Bride again. Yes! Glory Hallelujah, Kate our youngest is getting married this summer, and the whole family will gather from East and West to celebrate.

Not just the shoes, but the dress, the jewelry, etc. etc. have been a major challenge for me this time around, which promises to be my last MOB event. Soon I’ll be moving on to Grandmother of the Bride, and I won’t feel the same kind of pressure. Grandmothers are allowed to be invisible or at least to go off and play with the children which is lots more fun.


Anyway, wedding attire and other related and unrelated business have kept my mind occupied elsewhere than here in my beloved Blogland. After weeks of shopping, one of my least favorite activities, I have my Wedding Shoes and everything else for my person and I have breathed a sigh of relief and sunk into a chair — but I jumped up again pretty fast to start in on the housework that had piled up, and the garden.

My cousin came fromlavender 6-14 PA so in preparation I cleaned up the weeds and trimmed the dead flower heads and deadwood and swept the spiderwebs off the pool fence. I spent one whole week getting ready for her and my dear cousin-in-law and it was well worth it.

The other upcoming big event, for which I won’t need heels, is a trip to Greece and Turkey that Mr. Glad and I are taking after the wedding. We haven’t ever traveled abroad together, and neither of us knows any Greek — or at least, we didn’t know any until we started studying the Pimsleur Modern Greek (short) course. Now we are pretty good at saying “I don’t understand,” which we expect to use a lot, maybe exclusively if we don’t get on with listening to the remainder of the CD’s.

We’ll be spending most of our time on the island of Crete, so if any of my readers has any tips regarding that long and warm island, they would be most welcome.

The next couple of months will be busy with all these preparations for travel and celebrations, and they aren’t the kinds of things I usually cover in blog posts, but I wanted you to know what is going on in the background  that is actually the foreground. In my mind subjects will be playing Musical Chairs in a more chaotic fashion than usual, but I pray to keep them all gathered together serenely in my heart.

st. nicholas georgioupolis crete
Georgioupolis, Crete – St. Nicholas Chapel

Powerful Flavors and Memories

This afternoon Mr. Glad and I shopped for a pewter cup for our newest grandchild. My in-laws gave each of our children one when they were babies, and we’ve carried on the tradition with our grandchildren. After we made our choice of cup style and engraved letters, we wandered around the fancy stationery/gift store browsing expensive Christmas ornaments, multiple versions of Carl Larsson calendars, and ball-point pens.

Then back to the parking garage, through balmy evening air, so odd and dreamy. We were reluctant to go home to our wintry house, and briefly considered buying food downtown. Passing an outdoor cafe, Bill said, “Nice dog,” and I looked at the greyhound sitting there by a table and smiled behind me at him while I kept walking. Then, “Gretchen?” I heard, from the dining area, and I saw a woman getting up and coming toward me. I had already recognized her voice, though I hadn’t heard it for almost 20 years. E. is mother to two children who were among my day-care clients way back, my children’s friends, decorators of my walls and place-holders in my heart.

I have often wanted to get together to talk about those old times, and find out how the now-grown-up children are, and send them my love. Just this week I was thinking of one time when the mom needed to talk privately to me. We had to take chairs to a back bedroom and sit there in the middle of what looked like a hurricane disaster zone. Probably all the children were outdoors at the time finding polliwogs or on some other neighborhood adventure such as you can see in this photo. Her two children are among the ones pictured.

It turns out she has moved to another state, and is only visiting here briefly. Thank you, Lord, for arranging this meeting! We exchanged our info, so I hope we can talk later.

As we drove toward home and came near this market, I asked my husband if we could stop. I took the picture in the daylight once, but tonight in the dark I could see it was still open. We went in and were greeting by a pervading fish sauce smell. I like it well in my Thai dishes, but filling the store–not much. I was trying to just pick up one item and get out of there, get home to cook, but it is another place that keeps you looking at all the many fascinating things you don’t end up buying.

I saw the bags of MSG, giant rice papers, rice crackers and twenty types of noodles in cellophane packages. But I snatched up my tapioca flour and we skipped over the other inviting aisles to the produce section. There are usually some very nice vegetable offerings, and we carried a couple of them up front and waited meekly behind the person checking out.

“If you drink Red Bull, you have got to know this is the original stuff!” A tall man with long pale kinky hair had come up behind and was waving some brown bottles.  “Whenever I can, I come in here and buy this–it’s way better than Red Bull! Much more powerful, and cheaper, too!” He smiled broadly in his excitement to share his discovery with us, revealing black holes where teeth must once have been.

So thrilled, he didn’t notice our laden arms, and stepped forward to put his brown tonic bottles on the counter and pay. It didn’t take long before he was striding out. As the cashier tallied our purchases I said, “I don’t think he needs any Red Bull, Asian or otherwise.”

Today I went through my back stock of spices and herbs, sorting and consolidating and putting many little bottles and bags aside for my daughters. Another thing of my past, after the day care business, was the food co-op business, and in the years when I had hundreds of pounds of rice, flour, yogurt and teabags piled in my garage every month or two, I found that I could buy a pound of spice for the same cost as 2 2-oz bottles.

Most of the time these flavorings came in foil bags that preserve the freshness very well. Often four or eight of us would split a pound. If, as the experts would tell me, the potency was diminished over time, why, I could just throw in a bit more of the oregano or whatever. Today, though, I threw quite a bit out, into the garden. I don’t make 20-quart pots of soup anymore, and some of the herbs, especially, had lost all their savor.

Soon I’ll share a recipe that helps me use many different spices, and a lot of them, at one time. This is a sneak preview.