Make up your mind!

My cousin and his wife came over for dinner on Sunday. Now that the monsoon is over, and we can keep our windows and doors open, we’ve begun to invite one couple home every week. If we do infect each other, then a week gives us enough time to watch for symptoms. For most of us it is the first in-person meeting with anyone outside our homes in six months, and there is a lot to talk about.

This couple had traveled to Jaipur in early March, in the same days when a super-spreading event involving infected tourists began the national panic. My guess is that COVID-19 had been spreading already below the radar for at least a month before this. In any case, they’d picked up a piece of Jaipur blue pottery for us. Yesterday I took a couple of photos with this new prop. Neither The Family nor I could choose a favourite. Please help.

Delightfully sweet

The unexpected rain had cooled the air down as we walked downhill along the ancient middle road of Constantinople, now called Alemdar Cadessi. It was that time of the afternoon when you need to sit down with a small Çay (pronounced chai). We passed a place with large windows looking into a cozy space where people were sitting with chai. I looked at The Family, and she nodded. Efezade was our choice this afternoon.

It was nice to sit down after a day walking around the area of the old imperial palace of Constantinople. We could let our umbrellas drip into a little stand, and take off our damp jackets. The place was comfortably warm, the server was friendly. We got our large cups of tea, and inspected the special lokum (Turkish delight) that they make here. Claudia Roden writes with feeling about sharbat vendors of Cairo “The flasks glowed with brilliantly seductive colours: soft, pale, sugary pink for rosewater, pale green for violet juice, warm, rich, dark tamarind and the purple-black of mulberry juice.” Here the colours and flavours of flowers had been captured in these special sweets on display: rose, orange, saffron, chocolate, violet. Two tiny cubes of lokum studded with pistachio: a rose and a chocolate, and I was hooked. Later we would buy large amounts to bring back to India, but that afternoon we pushed on an open door to go beyond the packets of pale cubes on sale at airports and tourist shops. The world of lokum is deep, and I think I have just started exploring.

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