Thursday, March 8, 2007

Customs, Cookbooks and Telephone calls.

Our shipment took 10 weeks to arrive. Actually to be fair it took only a few weeks to sail here but many weeks to sit in port with customs. Every box was opened and inspected. No more inflammatory banners masquerading as windsurfing sails were found. Not for the fainthearted seeing the state of our boxes upon arrival at our home.

Camping in our newly rented house was wearing a bit thin. No pots and pans, no toys, no linen etc. It was quite absurd how excited I was at the sight of my salad spinner, frying pan (and cafetiere, hooray) and the relief at seeing all the things I had somehow had the foresight to ship, and wouldn't have to cope without...

I must admit I did sob over my beloved cook books as I retrieved them from a box. (10 wks being the longest I had ever been parted from them.) The tears were more for the realisation that had dawned on me since arriving in Sri Lanka that Nigella, Jamie and Nigel were going to be a bit redundant here. So many ingredients aren't available, and the heat and humidity so unbearable that I really did have to 'get out of the kitchen'. I love cooking. I miss recipes that I have always done. But I am learning new recipes. And bless Nigella, she often offers tropical alternatives, so I look for lime, papaya and coconut recipes now and I have learned to adapt, and substitute. There is a lack of variety, but on the plus side I guess I don't have to think so hard about what I'm going to cook, the choices are so few.

I get stressed by how long everything takes. I am not acclimatising well. By the end of a week I look at what I have achieved and feel very demoralised. Sorted the water, no. Got internet access, no. Paid bills, no. The list of 'lack of achievements' goes on and on, and continues week in, week out.

I seem to be misunderstood, or there is so much red tape, or incomprehensible rules about things. And people put the phone down on you all the time. People in companies, customer service representatvies, telephone 'help' lines. It is very odd. Sometimes it's a language thing, sometimes they can't solve the problem, sometimes they don't know what to do. But the answer is always the same. Just quietly replace the receiver and hope I won't notice, or hope that I will assume that I inadvertently keep leaning on the disconnect button.

I realise every single day I feel stupid or dim witted. (Perhaps it's the phone calls) I go to the supermarket and I don't even recognise half the veggies, let alone know what to do with them, (despite having read several Indian cookbooks) I don't understand the systems, so I get told off for walking in with bags to somewhere when they should be left with security; or laughed at by a tuktuk driver for suggesting so ridiculous a fare(a tactic on their part but wearing nevertheless) I feel like I get things wrong all the time, or don't know how to do something. Quite a weirdfeeling for a 30 something mother who has been knocking around in the world for a while, and thinks she knows a thing or two.....It diminishes your confidence. I need to work on that. All the magazines tell you you have a new confidence in your 30s, lacking in your twenties. Hmm.....

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