Curry, cricket and Charleston


Found myself at an Indian restaurant the other night. Nothing unusual in that, except that Indian restaurants aren’t that common in Nashville. And this was a vegetarian curry house, which I’m reasonably confident I haven’t had the dubious pleasure of experiencing before.

It turns out Mushroom Masala is very similar to Chicken Tikka Masala, but without the chicken, and with more mushrooms. Who knew? It was extremely tasty. And since poppadums, mango chutney and peshwari naans have no meat content, not too much of my regular Indian restaurant experience was disturbed.

A bunch of us from the school were meeting to mark 3 weeks since we graduated. Three weeks is not especially significant, I think we were all just missing each other.

As the meal was winding down, I asked the waiter if he liked cricket. I always do this in Indian restaurants over here. The last time the guy was Nepali and liked football. Very disappointing. This guy was more rewarding. We dived straight into a conversation on corruption in the IPL and spot-fixing in general. I felt like I was getting reacquainted with proper sports chat, after many months of double plays, RBIs, and rosters. It’s going to be wonderful to again watch a game that’s allowed to finish with the scores level.

And then, just as my internal sporting equilibrium was returning, news filtered through that the Holy Cross 2nd XI had won a game. What gives?

Since school got out I have done a bit of travelling around.. toured the Jack Daniels distillery, which I discovered is located in a dry county. Alanis, that’s ironic. Spent a week in Charleston, South Carolina and then a weekend in Memphis. Charleston was beautiful, unusually walkable-around for a US city, and very relaxing. Memphis was sketchy, run-down, full of deserted buildings, and jammed with music history and history in general. Loved them both. Tomorrow morning Ryan, Katie and I hit the road south again, for New Orleans this time. Katie is nervous about spending yet more extended periods of time in the car with Ryan and I, on account of us both being extremely talkative. We have both promised to tone it down and try hard to maintain periods of silence now and then.

New Orleans is one of the few places in the world I have specifically wanted to visit for a long time. For the cajun, and the music. Not going to lie, am kind of hoping to see a funeral while I’m there. Not an easy thing to arrange, but you never know…

Curry and corn on the cob

On my final night in France, Tahar took me to what he described as the best Indian restaurant in Chambéry, which turned out to be a Pakistani Halal outfit, but who’s going to quibble over such small details (apart from Indians and Pakistanis, obviously).

There were a total of four of us in the restaurant. Me, Tahar, a solitary French diner, and the proprietor. “You like cricket?” I asked him, to which he replied with a stream of Pakistani-accented French, from which I picked up that he had watched cricket every day while growing up in Pakistan, but in France all they show is “le foot, le foot, le foot!”. After yet another smoking break involving Tahar and the other diner (the restaurateur took his smoking breaks separately) they returned to the obligatory coffee. I declined. “The French – they drink a lot of coffee, right throughout the day,” I commented in my best GCSE French. “They drink a lot, they smoke a lot…”

This tickled our friend at the other table. The scene reminded me vaguely of Desmond’s, with Porkpie chuckling away in the corner.  “And in England, you drink tea instead.” I explained that I didn’t live in England, and I much preferred coffee, but at 10pm? I would never sleep. Doesn’t seem to be a problem that’s occurred to the French.

In an intriguing mix of our native languages, with much hand-waving and the odd break for a cigarette, the three of us discussed any number of topics, including family, DC’s situation, religion, the deterioration of educational and healthcare standards in France and the UK, French food (not as good as it used to be), Sarkozy (he’s an idiot), Muslim fundamentalism. It was quite a night.

I am in Sheffield as I write this – at a conference for the next couple of days. Had my first experience of Nando’s Peri-Peri chicken tonight. iColin and I opted for a corn-on-the-cob accompaniment. Corn-on-the-cob is great for getting your teeth into, I find, and it returns the favour by getting right into your teeth. Will be picking sweetcorn out for days, I expect.

DC was eventually repatriated to Scotland on Saturday, after a false start or two (try and avoid MapFre if you can when choosing travel insurance), and is recovering gradually in an Edinburgh hospital. I saw him this morning before I headed south. He seemed in good form, albeit dog-tired from lack of sleep. Not a good place for light sleepers, hospital. I brought him some earplugs.