Monday, October 29, 2012

Delicious dessert, a piece of heaven

Delicious strawberry cheesecake from Mugg and Bean, Gateway

I disappear into the folds of this confection. 

That is to say… I lose myself, my world and all coherent though for a split second. My attention revolves instead around this silken creation. 

I wonder at the love and the discipline that must have been part science, part magic inherent in the hands of the chef that sculpted this masterpiece. Sure, it was probably just a mix of cream cheese, sugar, fruit, vanilla and pastry, but I’ll be damned if I didn't tell you that I tasted love and passion and felt the sense of artistry come alive on this very plate. 

Every morsel was eaten with aching slowness, every taste, a textural delight as I savoured the flavours; salty, sweet with an aromatic vanilla aftertaste. Paired with a just ‘hot enough’ cup of Americano coffee that complemented and offset the dessert with its slight chocolaty bitterness. It was as if I had arrived in heaven with my very own share of deliciousness. 

Its moments like these that I cherish and treasure. It feels that just for once, the world stops spinning on its axis, all problems are momentarily forgotten and my mind scrambles in paroxysms of delight.

It is my sincere belief that for just one moment in time, all is right with the world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is one lifetime enough?

Have you ever been in a bit of an existential panic? I have! It kinda happened to me when I turned 30 and not for the reasons that you might imagine. 

The prospect of getting a few grey’s or a deepening of lines around my eyes are very real (can you believe, I am now beginning to look at eye creams in stores!), and I’m sure gravity will begin having its way with me someday, but that isn’t quite what’s on my mind just yet. 

The reason that I’m in so much of a spin is that I want to do a hundred different things, be successful at them and fulfilled all at the same time. 

My wish list reads something like this...

I want... to cook and bake and run my own coffee shop… make sparkly cookies, sumptuous cakes and delectable savouries that will have people rolling on the floor of my shop in spasms of delight, reminiscing about times where everything was whole, good and sweet. 

I want... to decorate hands, feet and canvases with all the artistic expressions of henna that are bottled up in my heart and soul. I want to cover surfaces with it, saturate the world with all the painstaking love for these designs that are in my heart

I want... to write, produce and create short films and inserts that capture beautiful pieces of life, creating catalogues of dreams. Create a centre that offers skills exchange from people in polar opposite circumstances, have my coffee shop and arts spring up around them. Enveloping us all in an artistic, magical protective cocoon.  

I want... and need to travel, I want to have the time and the energy to explore cities, visit monuments, listen to the essence of the beautiful stories captured and paved in the pebble stones of new places. I want to look into the eyes of people who don’t speak my language and just understand, purely through the common denominator of being human!  
I want to meet new people, share skills, find common ground and drink in the diversity found in their lives and experiences.

I want... to write a book that makes no excuses for being unashamedly  emotional, that talks to experiences of being a woman, a South African, of being having the soul of an artist, filled with grit and yet optimism all at the same time.

I want... to give back, to teach, to be taught, soak up, to soak in, to revel, to engage, to be great, to contribute, to stand out, to meld into, to explode onto a scene, to have my spirit dance, to breathe in life, inhale it until my lungs hurt, to have squishy hugs that render me speechless and I want to reach the ultimate height of my being and then exceed that. I want to fall to my feet, grasp handfuls of sea sand and feel them filter gently out of tightly enclosed fists.

I want... to feel the sun dance across my face, to laugh until tears trickle down my face, I want to be as strong as a warrior princess, with a soul as delicate as the gossamer wings of a butterfly. I want to get inside every moment and every experience, inhabit it, talk about it, write about it, make art about it, laugh about it, maybe even cry about it. 

The ultimate question… can I fit all of this into one lifetime?

Monday, October 22, 2012

On being called ‘Indian’

Disclaimer: the following article makes heavy reference to the term ‘Indian’ and the italicization thereof should be noted as my way of saying that I do not necessarily agree with and cannot commit entirely to the label. It is also not a judgment or implication on anybody that freely and wholly accepts and adopts this label; that is entirely the right of the individual. That said, this is my point of view.  

There are many moments when it happens and in a number of ways, sometimes fellow ‘Indians’ refer to ‘Indian’ people (born in South Africa, might I add) as ‘Indians’. Not to mention the feeling that I get when people not of ‘Indian’ origin, look at me, sum me up by physical appearance and refer to me as ‘Indian’. In one fell swoop, negating my South African identity, ignoring my multi- pronged heritage which consists of Surtee, Urdu and a speculative but highly probable so-called ‘Malay’ background. 

Let me set it out from the very beginning… that I do not have all the answers, nor do I believe that every person who has ever referred to me as ‘Indian’ has nefarious or racist motives. All I have, without a shadow of doubt is an unerring sense of disquiet that flows through my veins every time somebody tosses race related labels around like it’s going out of fashion. 

For that matter, I don’t know that the terms ‘Black’, ‘White’, ‘Coloured’ or ‘other’ have any place of peace and calm in my mental library. I truly wish that we could all just regard each other as human beings. Call me pedantic, but it somehow boggles my mind that I, as a so called ‘Indian’ person can be referred to as such when I was not born in India nor have I set foot there in my life so far.  

Let me also state that my discomfort with being referred to as ‘Indian’ doesn’t come from a place of shame or wanting to hide my roots. I am proud to be associated with a clear lineage of forefathers and a history that trace all the way back to a time where at least some of my ancestors arrived in South Africa from India among other places. I associate with the traditions, the customs, the culture, the dress, the collective conscious of 'Indian' heritage. And I am equally proud to lay claim to the right to call myself a South African.

This feeling also does not come from a ‘wannabe’ place of aspiring to be like any other racial/ethnic group. All said, I’m just not comfortable being slapped onto a board, science experiment style, labeled and told who I am by society. Just simply because it makes me more easily visually identifiable to you as part of some antiquated outdated system of profiling. 

Sure enough, it is a world where you cannot step left or right without stepping on a label or risk crushing the spirit of somebody’s sensitive soul. So what would I like to called or referred to I hear you ask? Seeing as in the world that we live in its only rational and expected that people need to locate you in their frame of reference, categorize you and commit your mental file to memory. 

How about 30 year old female, South African (Whether I have the right to claim to be South African is another hot topic that I have been contested on many a time- a right which by the way I will hold onto to the death, as I am born on African soil after all) of ‘Indian’ origin (read diverse, hybridized heritage here), heart and soul of an artist, human being, just wanting to live, inspired by the whimsical, the unexpected and the ordinary? 

Perhaps I dream too much… 

Saturday, October 20, 2012


More than little awkward

Living mostly inside my head
Never knowing how to fill awkward silences… just quit while I’m ahead?

Why do I get so tongue tied, when I have so much to say?
Or think of the perfect, funny comeback belonging to a convo had yesterday?

My mind is a resource made up of a thousand parts
From hard knock lessons to street smarts  

Yet sometimes kicks in a little too late
No problem, no issue, no need for tissue, just don’t care to participate 

Bearing no ill
Just lack of skill 

Maybe a lack of finesse
Embrace the awkward I hear them say, perhaps it’s time, I do my best.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chocolate, caramel, coffee cookies

Every office has their traditions. Ours has one, that has affectionately become known as 'Bake Friday'. A completely voluntary activity where each person has a turn to bring in baked goods on a Friday for the rest of the team. 

My turn rolled around last Friday, after a great deal of anticipation, poring over ideas in books, magazines and online. I was well and truly excited to have the opportunity to get a little wild and organically creative as I baked up a storm. 

I chose to make a simple cookie batter, minus eggs due to the observance of the fast by Hindu friends at the time. Be that as it may, there was a great deal of thought that went into the nuances of flavour in the cookies that I made. 

I've never really been one for recipes but have always chosen to see them as guidelines. I prefer to experiment and use my sense of touch, taste, feel and smell to achieve what I want.

Overall though, I've found when it comes to baking there are a few key ingredients without which any dish would fall flat. 

A generous pinch of salt

On that note I leave you with a guideline instead of a recipe, descriptions instead of quantities, and some pictures that I hope you will find visually exciting.

A touch of cinnamon, a whisper of coffee, a hint of chocolate, molten melting chocolate chips, soft and sticky brown sugar, all important salt, chunks and shards of delicious chopped almonds, a generous ooze of maple syrup and sprinklings of vanilla and almond essences and of course a sufficient integration of cake flour, corn flour and a bit of baking powder all added up to the cookies that I made that day.

Melted Margarine getting the maple syrup treatment

In go the choc chips, cocoa, coffee and essences

Decorating time- a pat of caramel, a drizzle of chocolate and a sprinkling of edible glitter
Le finished product!

Monday, October 15, 2012

More alike than different

Watching the moon rise over North Beach in Durban

Have you ever laughed so hard that you had a stitch in your side, fallen hyperventilating, to your left or right?

Did you ever talk to a cat or dog and see them ‘smize’ right back at you?

Ever felt so thirsty, that when at last you put a glass of water to your parched lips, you felt one cell after the other leap to hydrated attentiveness as the trickle of life giving liquid brought you back to life?

Has your heart ever done cartwheels, tripping out at the sight of a loved one, a good memory or just the thought of having a good book to read when you get home later in the evening?

Did you ever watch the moon rise with a friend and feel that the world was your oyster
Yours for the taking…

Did your heart ever sink when you heard bad news?

Or leap in full throttle when you saw a familiar face?

High’s, lows, and meanders, obstacles, the good, the bad and the ugly…

We are all more alike than we are different

Isn’t it about time we treat each other with a little more care?