Monday, January 07, 2008

The Holidays: in re-cap

In lieu of any bonus (seeing as I work in the development/ charity sector which has no bonuses) our very small office was given a ten day break from the Saturday before Christmas till the Wednesday after New Years. That’s 4 paid days of leave to compliment the public holidays over and above the generous 25 days of annual leave we get. Needless to say this is the best gift we could have been given. By the time the leave was granted it was too late to book tickets to India and so I made alternate plans that evenly balanced socialising with relaxing.

Christmas was quiet, as always, celebrated with pizza and by camping on the living room floor in anticipation of the ‘every-night-we-must-watch-cricket’. Of course Murphy is so enchanted by me that almost nothing after Christmas went to plan. On the 26th, after a night of disappointing cricket, V woke up to a day of horrid flu – cold, cough, fever, body ache. He recovered quite rapidly and kept his promise by bravely trekking to south London the very next day to eat a fantastic Polish meal in my mate J’s warm and wonderful home. By then V was well on the mend and I was slowly on the way down. Spent the next few days mainly wallowing in self-pity and snot, medicated by Day Nurse and Wagamama meals and trying to decide if we should cancel our New Years do.

By Sunday my mind was made up. We would soldier along. I am nothing if not my mother's child. So I dashed off to the lovely Columbia Road market to get me some bargains while V waited at home for an enormous amount of groceries to arrive. Drank hot hot chocolate and walked around the surprisingly quiet market with my friend E. Bargain bought 100 stems of burnt orange tulips for the house. Was a pain to lug back home I must admit but having them in two giant vases brightened up the teak and green décor immeasurably and made it all worthwhile. We now know we can look quite showroom-like if the need should ever arise.

By Sunday evening I was in full organisation mode. The cold was being treated by endless cups of hot water and the LISTS were coming into their own. I am one of THOSE people, the ones who do best if guided by well planned, detailed lists. The master list consisted of two parts – the guest list and the menu. The menu list was further broken down by ingredients for each food type to be served (and further broken down by what had been ordered online and what needed to be bought from our local supermarket). This was cross-referenced with what each dish required in terms of time planning (i.e. marinate in advance, defrost, take out to breathe, cooking dish, serving dish and implements, accompaniments). V was in charge of the all important alcohol list and the music. With our not-so-big fridge it was a routine as precise as surgery to ensure that food was marinated on time and that these and other pre-prepared goods lived side by side snug as a bug in readiness for the party.

The 31st dawned grey and dreary. My escaped-from-London-for-middle-of-the-countryside friends arrived by mid-day and what a wonderful afternoon we had. We laughed like the drought was over. She brings out the very best in me and I had clearly missed her terribly. Her quiet husband and my quiet V commiserated over the less than thrilling cricket and other lamentable mentionables like Vishwanathan Anand not even getting a mention amongst Indians of 2007 on authority (whatever?) NDTV. We girlies stayed out of it and immersed ourselves in ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’. She stuck with it and continued to relay the important bits of the story to me while I gave up and moved on to the final stages of prep. J arrived early in the evening and wine in hand efficiently helped me pull together final bits in the kitchen. Girlie-girls then got ready in double quick time and by 8.30pm our first guests were arriving and soon the party was in full swing.

What can I say? People kept arriving till about 11pm and I swanned around the kitchen for a bit but mostly sat and stood and chatted with my guests, making sure everyone had something to eat and drink and someone interesting to talk to. 30 people do fill a room and the food seemed to go down well as the crumbs gave testimony to. We had:
Cold eats: crudités & dip/ tortilla chips & salsa guacamole sour cream/ cheese board & grapes
Hot eats: paneer shashlik/ aloo tikki’s/ falafel & hummus/ salmon, sour cream & caviar blinis/ garlic parmesan bread/ chicken tikka’s/ lamb galouti kebabs (which had a mini disaster that the S2 took care of)

Everyone left by about 3.30am and the staying lot settled into sleep by about 4am. V and I tidied up just a bit and then sat down and shared a glass of wine and thoughts about what we wanted 2008 to be like for us. Also called various family around the world and finally gave into sleep at around 5am. The 1st was spent with friends and old movie watching. A sublime day if it must be described, lazy and happy, like the rest of the year I hope. By the time everyone left it was nearly 6pm. V and I gave into the exhaustion fairly early and before I knew it morning and work beckoned. A pared down office made it an easy first day back but by the end of the day I was flagging and ended up spending the remainder of the week down and out with a recurrence of flu.

This week it’s back to work full swing. Aaarrrrggghhhh.


  1. wow! sounds so meticulous and well-planned! I'm in awe of people like that! I dunno when I'll ever get around to cooking for a bunch of people and throwing a party of sorts. Am far too lazy!

  2. Shub: It was meticulous and well-planned indeed. Something genetic my mother tells me - all this wanting to throw parties....once you start it's like a caffiene habit you just can't kick!

  3. So you pretty well worked out the logistics of having a party :P And wow, getting extra leave is quite good as getting a bonus.

    Back to reality now I suppose.

  4. You cooked for 30 people! You cooked! For. 30. People!!! I'm so overflowing with admiration for you... and here it takes me all my time to cater for 6 people. Any more and I'm a gibbering wreck. P'raps something to do with my shy retiring personality... :)

  5. i wish i was there. Thats how beautiful it seems to have been. maybe someday. Have a great year ahead...!!!

  6. J: Nothing like paid extra leve as a bonus. Although £ might do the trick!

    Shyam: What?! You. Cook extraordinaire. Is admiring me? I don't geddit. The food was good and plentiful but not stunningly good. And I have no shy retiring day when we meet you'll see this.

    Dusty Fog: Thank you for the compliment. Have a good year!