It was good to receive your letter. We wondered how you had gone with the interview. Johnny certainly enjoyed reading your letter as good letter writers are so rare.
The photographs were very informative, they revived memories and feelings that have been sternly suppressed for twelve years. One is of course grateful for any scrap of news. Averil in a sari was a heartening sight. Johnny and I feel very strongly about being as Indian as possible in India, one is Indian, and any other way is slightly suicidal. Yes, it’s easy for us to speak from this comfortable distance, but we love and miss many of the good things of India. Indians abroad are usually invited to speak on India and are asked many questions about religion, poverty, food, clothing, etc.
I’ve run adult education classes on Indian cooking and given a few talks and demonstrations at the local high school. Many of our Indian friends tell us quietly, but with amusement, that they have had to visit the nearby libraries so they are able to answer the queries put to them about India.
I regret very much not having bothered to learn more of the culture I was born in. Had I a choice of an overseas holiday, I would most likely spend it in India, pursuing a few of my interests like kolams and regional cooking.
I’ve written a teach-yourself-to-cook Indian cookbook but haven’t bothered to revise the manuscript, something I’d been meaning to get to daily for the past three years!
Perhaps R can swap recipes? For instance, I’ve tried making Naan roti but have yet to achieve a reasonable one. The recipe books are not much use. What actually goes into Naan and should the oven be hotter than 550 degrees F?
Today gran and I made brinjal pickle (homegrown) and lemon pickle too. The lemon pickle recipe is one your mother taught us when we were kids.
We can grow most Indian vegetables if we have the seed. We have to depend on what’s available through the seed companies as seeds are not allowed into the country. Our most precious plants are two curry leaf seedlings. We grow, or have grown, okra, brinjal, four different types of chilli, guavas, mangoes, spinach, bitter gourd, snake gourd, pumpkin and dhal greens. Not the proper dhal greens, a weed, but good enough. The house we bought already had four large mango trees.
Gran (or Nana, as you call her) is the keen gardener and raiser of chicks and ducks. The garden suffers when she gets a temporary job – usually looking after invalid old ladies. At the moment she is sewing hats, bags and shirts, to sell in a friend’s craft shop.
19th May 1979
Have lost my perspective of what I was going to do this year. Sidetracked again but something good and right came up. Joan has formed a catering group and there is much work to be done before any return can be seen. In the meantime I have neglected P-maths and am very agitated. Need to sort myself out.
- Meals On Wheels (M.O.W.) – ask Janet to take over
- Pancakes for tuckshop – what should I do? Give it away?
- Candles – lots of wax to be used up
- Plants at Magnussons – continue?
- Garden – needs attention
- Chooks and pen
- Family, of course
- Car Maintenance
Just phoned Janet, she will take over M.O.W. Also ordered some avocados for Monday evening.
3rd Jul 1979
A few things have to be planned for next week. I’m away Tuesday and Wednesday nights. And maybe Thursday?
- Cheque to Bankcard
- Letter of resignation
- Make cooking and house notes for family
- Lots of P-maths
- Sort out insurances
- Visit Cyss
- Johnny’s clothes need to be prepared.
The general idea is that if the body is purified, it will heal itself.
So apply (1) and (2) on alternate days.
Grated pineapple with grated seeds
(almonds but not peanuts)
Plain biscuits with butter
1 slice wholemeal toast
2 lightly poached eggs
Mid-morning: juice 3 oranges
Fruit (apples in particular)
Mid-afternoon: 3 oranges
Veg rissoles (onions, egg, no sauces)
No liquids for an hour before and two hours after a meal. No meat, condiments, tea or coffee. If sweets are craved, eat brown rice with milk but no sugar, yoghurt or custard without sugar. Drink Kurk brew instead of tea or coffee.
The pain is constant. Time, that clichéd healer, should dull it, but at the moment I welcome the pain – in fact, I deliberately foster it.
Absolute folly, it interferes with day-to-day activities. I wish to write it off as a delightfully human and rare experience and leave it at that. What else is there to do? You must get on with your life, and soon, please. We only have one life each of us, and the years go so quickly. I agree most heartily, I wish we had never met, the agony is terrible. The conflict for me is awful.
All this must seem rather dramatic to you but what the hell, if we can’t make love let us at least attempt to make literature! Shall I put you in a book and thereby absorb you in a less destructive way?
In what way is my behaviour different from Barbie’s behaviour when she withdraws? I have the same urge to be by myself, I don’t feel hungry, well not as much as I normally do. I like wandering about in the garden and I can’t concentrate. Sleep is at a minimum.
The disco was fun. I danced from the time I got there to finishing time which was 11:30pm. My partner was ‘stretch’, a very tall guy. He was young and clean and wore glasses, which gave the impression he was learned. Took a crowd afterwards to the Singing Ship. The moon was disturbingly bright. The young ones went off to make wishes at the well. I sat in the moke and brooded. It had been a wonderful evening.
There is no future or present, only a brief past. A past that should not have been.
Notes and Links
- This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
- These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
- A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.
- In Emu Park: “The Singing Ship memorial commemorates Captain Cook`s Bicentenary in 1970 and marks his exploration of the bay in May, 1770. The memorial represents the billowing sail, mast and rigging of his ship Endeavour. Concealed organ pipes use the sea breezes to create eerie music.” Ref: Monument Australia, click here.