She made me wait

Seriously, she did.

She wasn't there with garlands. There was no Bollywood music playing. No-one was dancing. My life wasn't moving in slow motion. This was for real.

So I took pictures of this Indian Army soldier instead.

Security at Delhi Airport
Army jawan at Delhi Airport

But, ha! I found out why Alice was late getting to the airport. She was busy chopping cabbage because she was afraid of the Rabbit with the Stopwatch (and the video camera.) How else could she continue to claim to decimate a large head of cabbage into angelhair slaw in less than 90 seconds?

spot the chopped cabbage

Not just that, she canceled the picnic in the park, too! What?! Did I end up with Dorothy in Kansas instead of The Mad Tea Party?

My revenge? I arrived in true NRI style, with bags full of dirty laundry, leaving no room for candy chocolates, and a host of very reasonable conditions: water must be boiled and then simmered for at least 10 minutes, all food must be thoroughly cooked (no raw veggies, including cilantro), a mosquito net over our bed, and bottomless cups of tea. She didn't make any compromises and delivered on all fronts but if you think she didn't complain or laugh at me, you're wrong! So very wrong. In fact, she had saved this article, just for me.

OMG,the NRIs are here again
So we are.

Oh! It was such a treat to hug my dearest friend, Anita, for the first time! She is everything and more than what I thought she would be. A human dynamo, she's constantly doing something and often, several things all at once.

Anita and I
four years and three months later

The picnic may have been canceled but the party was still on! And this is the point at which you can totally start getting jealous!

Out came the labneh

Nenya Kaliya
while the nenya kaliya cooked on the stove

Cabbage Thoran
lest I say anything more, the cabbage thoran was quickly tossed together, while I showered

Anita, our lovely host
our lovely host, Anita, set the table

Raji, so gorgeous!
gorgeous Raji arrived soon thereafter

bearing brinji, drumstick (saragawa) sambar and

Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake and wine

The Spread
the entire spread!

Anita taunted me with mujj chatin and kept the cilantro separately, as if to humor me. Huh? The radish wasn't cooked so what was the point? I don't think she noticed but I ate it anyway.

Lunch at Anita's
What a fantastic time we had, laughing and sharing stories!

Three food bloggers 
Three food bloggers

Men of much patience
and men of much patience

The food was incredible and deeply satisfying. The company was invigorating. Such smart and intelligent people, quick to the draw with information and opinions. I must admit to being a little quiet as jetlag was slowly engulfing me and taking me for a brief spins in the world of zzz's.

After much animated discussion, we bid Raji and her family farewell, promising to try to meet again after our jaunt to Agra and Jaipur. I was ready to retire but Anita had other plans for us. She made us walk a good 15 minutes, threw us into the impressive Delhi metro and took us to Dilli Haat.

Before I ramble on about that (ahem, it's fodder for my next post, what did you think?!), here are all the recipes for the amazing potluck that Anita and Raji put together, each dish rivaling the other in terms of flavor, texture and stories. We're all food bloggers! How can we forget the stories!

Anita's husband provided an endless flow of libations from his well-stocked bar.

Yes, my India trip was off to a good start, thanks to my wonderful friends who welcomed us into their home with open arms.


Panfusine said...

Nice to match a face to the blogs! Adds the extra bit of human warmth to the posts!

Unknown said...

I am surely very very jealous of you for having so much. Glad you had fun though :)

Miri said...

I have a BIG smile on my face as I read this :) It was such a lovely afternoon - as if we had met many times before! The food, the company, the conversation - all brilliant :) And yes, you have to come back for the picnic!

Mrinalini-Gadkari said...

Nice storytelling with great pictures and a few words!!

sunita said...

Great company and great food; what more can one want. And it's nice to see Raji/Miri too, have known her for a while, now there's a face to go with her name :-)

Anonymous said...

Finally, we see how you both met.... two of my favorite food bloggers/ virtual people...I've read all your comment sparring and conversational posts with great relish (that word makes me think of all the fab chutneys you both make!)and was really looking forward to this post :)

This 'serial blogging' of your india trip has the makings of a daily soap in how I wait for the 'next episode'

Thanks for sharing, and wishing you guys many more opportunities to meet ahead.

Pelicano said...

Oh, that was so beautiful... I'm watering! You all look so nice... and all of the food is so beautiful. Anita, you truly are an admirable host for putting up with her. :-D

What's a nenya?

Anjali Koli said...

I was also there watching you like Sanjay from Mahabharat coz I had this all going in the eye of the mind! Loved it! Manisha see it take friends for you to appear on your own blog!

Anita said...

:) It was great that we could be ourselves. For the most part. There would have been much more food (normally0 but I have to admit that I felt some anxiety at the thought of cooking for a friend who is a great cook herself. There was so much I wanted to pack into the three short days that I found myself at my wits end to decide where to START! That is why I was late picking her up! I couldn't decide what I ought to cook and then I couldn't decide how to plan the time...the picnic had to be canceled at the last minute because the son had fever and I wondered if it was too much to whisk her straight to the park when she had all that washing to do! :) But it did give her extra time to absorb the surroundings (and take pics!)...and maybe wonder a little if I was for real and if I would really turn up at all!! Thoda tension dene ka bhi na!

Anita said...

You know what nenya is, Pel!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Niv, Priya, Mrinalini, thanks!

Miri, it was like meeting old friends! I'm just sad that we couldn't meet again. But then there's that picnic to look forward to!

Sunita, isn't she gorgeous?!

sacredfig, thank you! You made my day and you also have me giggling about the daily soap thing. I have many more India posts to come so I hope the interest does not wane!

Pelicano, you're what-ering?! Nice, as you know, is a four letter word. And, just imagine, there was no food styling involved nor any special lighting. I have to admit though that the light in Anita's house is downright challenging. Daylight is a mad confluence party of blue light, incandescent light and white light. Crrrr-azy!

Oh and a nenya is the the same thing as a tschnenya.

Anjali, my fellow red-checker, what is that song? With a little help from my friends. Like that.

Anita, there could have been more food? I feel so cheated! And all those excuses? Everyone *knows* the truth about the cabbage now.

And, yeah, I tscolded Pel and tschtold him that he tshould tschnow what tschnenya is.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

LOVE LOVE this! Especially the patient men! Anita is a lovely person and so cool you met her. I would have loved to have been a part of this - meeting you and Anita in person (finally) would be simply too cool for words! But seriously? She made you wait?

Poornima said...

Makes me jealous and happy for you 3 at the same time. Waiting for the next instalment.