Sunday, October 26, 2008


Food = Love
Where to start? Cooking is just the beginning. Manju comes everyday to make us lunch and dinner. (No, I have no idea how we got so lucky!) Every meal includes 3 or 4 dishes, one of which is always fresh homemade rotis or puris. Always delicious, never spicy, Manju's food dominates. The woman even learned how to make mac and cheese for the kids and held back her opinions of such a bizarre food.
I was really pretty homesick the first week or so we were here and there was no fooling Manju about it. She, through Chris, spent a long time talking to me about how my new Indian 'family' was here to take care of me, and how, if I was sad and cried, my 'sisters' (Manju, Sunita and our friend Nisha) would cry too. She sat and looked at our book of Madison pictures and my huge collection of pictures of friends and family back home, ooh-ing and ahh-ing in all the right places. Then, after extracting a promise that I wouldn't cry anymore, Manju intuited that the best way to comfort a Wisconsin girl was with fried cheese, so she whipped me up a batch of fresh deep-fried paneer. A few days later she rightly suspected that the malaise wasn't quite banished so she plied me again with fried food - eggplant this time. (Mom, I really did like it!)

Likewise when the kids are crabby she cuts up papaya or apples for them and teaches them Hindi tickling games. She also very patiently teaches me the Hindi names for all sorts of food and quizes me daily on time-telling in Hindi and counting. And if Caitlin's hair isn't braided by the time Manju arrives, she braids it for us.
She has 3 kids - a 4 yr old son and 2 daughters - 10 and 13. The eldest lives with her grandmother in Allahabad, but we got to meet the younger ones the other night at a party (more on that in another post). She's just a bit older than I am, but light years tougher. It really does feel like I've got a big sister on the scene now that we've gotten to know each other a bit better, which is such a wonderful thing.

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