Caring For Curry

LAST WEEK, LAWRENCE (one of our local staff) brought us a pot of curry plant. He had transferred it from another staff’s home, re-planted and cared for it while we were sorting out our home.

Seeing the plant brings back a flood of memories from our days in Moscow, Hong Kong and home.

I can’t begin to stress how important curry plant is to our lives; suffice to say it’s an important ingredient to our home-cooking and entertaining as well. We’ve kept one (we try) wherever we were.

Sad but true, I once measured my life achievement to the survival of the plant! And being able to do that in extreme-weathered Moscow was indeed an achievement! I was even able to grow some 10 little plants to give away to friends and neighbours by the time I left Moscow at the end our 3-year stint in February 2008.

Shima who inherited a pot of curry plant and a pot of pandan plant from me, emailed me a photo in 2009; while another tree followed its new owner, Kathrin to Germany! Kathrin emailed last month a photo of her curry plant sitting in her lush garden, with a message “I really do my best, but I’m afraid our climate is not what the plant expects”. I think she’s done a great job the very fact that the plant is still alive (after SIX years), having made the journey from Moscow, crossed Polish borders into German soil!

Our numerous curry plants in Moscow, January 2008.

Our numerous curry plants in Moscow, January 2008.

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Photo of the pandan and curry plants emailed by Shima in August 2009.

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The curry plant we gave Kathrin in 2008 that eventually followed her home to Germany (photo emailed to me in August 2014).

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Our curry plant in Hong Kong, August 2010. It grew so healthily, parting with it was hard to do!

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Our curry plant in Malaysia… despite conducive environment it didn’t really grow well (January 2013)

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Our curry plant in Accra, September 2014.

Our next “mission” is to get hold of a pandan plant (screwpine). If we could successfully keep one alive in Moscow, I think we will do fine in Accra that has similar weather conditions as Malaysia.

Speaking of pandan, when we were based in HK, I “smuggled” in a pandan plant from Hainan, China. I recall the Chinese immigration eyed my hand carry very suspiciously. Thankfully the “C” on our baggages stood for “Consulate” and not “Criminal”!!! While I successfully brought it home to HK, sadly, it didn’t survive long.

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My prized pandan, courtesy of Pak Colin in Hainan (Nov 2009)

 

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Em’s First Playdate

EM’S BEEN WANTING to invite friends over for a playdate ever since we identified the home back in April… mind you, it was a time when she didn’t even have many friends, other than the children of Papa’s colleagues and the two children of Mommy’s friend.

When we finally moved into the house in July and she started school in August, the desire to invite friends over grew stronger… mind you, her room was still in a mess, unpacked boxes still scattered around, and some toys were still in them!

The week that we finally agreed to her earnest request, she fell ill and was absent from school for three days. When she finally recovered and returned to school on a Thursday, I went with her and hastily made contact with the parents of her classmates whom she wanted to invite.

And that’s how her first playdate came about on this date, Saturday, 6 September 2014.

(Top, left) Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

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Bored of playing toys in her room, they came downstairs… (L) Nafisa played the piano; (R) Playdate or play dead?

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Big M had her share of playdates back in HK with two of her closest friends then, both of whom were in Netball Club with her.

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Little Em got a tiny teeny taste of playdate back then when she was included by Big M’s friends, at home on 9 April 2010. 

August in Accra

AUGUST SAW US a little settled, though still not fully unpacked nor past the “storm of problems”, as a friend put it. Summer break is over, and the kids are back in school, so I had a little bit more time to conduct some “experiments” in the kitchen.

August also saw us having friends over the home for simple meals.

August 31 marks the Independence Day of both Malaysia and Ghana, 57 years ago.

Back in school… (Top) The girls in their customary first day of school photos at home and in school; (Bottom) The girls’ snack and lunch boxes.

Back in school… (Top) The girls in their customary first day of school photos at home and in school; (Bottom) The girls’ snack and lunch boxes.

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The results of my experiments in the kitchen.

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And hubby satisfied his roti canai crave by making them himself.

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Having gotten our living room back (after the repair of the air-condition piping), we were able to have friends over three days later on 10 Aug, as we farewell A and welcome Z.

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Meanwhile more trouble brewing… another leaky pipe? This time outdoors, in the garden where a hole had to be dug. (11 Aug 2014).

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A merdeka meal with Malaysians. Top right: The ladies who helped prepare the dishes; (Bottom) The guests. (Saturday, 30 Aug 2014)

Home… finally?

AFTER STAYING IN a serviced apartment for three months, we finally moved into a home. Our first two weeks in the house were eventful ones indeed.

Saying goodbye to our “home” for the initial three months, on Saturday, 18 July 2014.

Saying goodbye to our “home” for the initial three months, on Saturday, 18 July 2014.

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Happy to move into the home we saw way back in April, but our happiness was short-lived after moving in, when we discovered numerous defects over time. Prior to that, I had a meltdown over mattresses, something I will ponder and sleep on (pun intended) for a long time…

Putting the house in order… including washing and taking stock of the dinnerwares.

While cleaning the furniture, I uncovered “pieces of history” stuck in the drawers – a few sheets of homework dating back to 1999!

The same week, our worldly belongings arrived after 1.5 months braving the sea. (22 July 2014)

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The girls are finally re-united with their toys.

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Unpacking our “valuables”, I also discovered some broken stuff, sigh…

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On that very day, we ran out of water… water tanker to the rescue at the cost of Gh280 (22 July 2014)

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In the same week too, we discovered a leak in the air-condition piping, repairs began on 26 July, completed 12 days later and a mere three days before we had our first group of guests over for dinner. 

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On Sunday 27 July, we ran out of electricity credits! We turned to our generator but not for long… the next day, it stopped working and we ran out of water too! Monday being a public holiday for Eid Mubarak, I guess the generator and taps took a break too! Not a single drop of water to wash up, we had to cancel a lunch invitation to a colleague’s home for raya celebrations. Another water tanker was called to the rescue at Gh250 (28 July 2014).

Such blessings! Raya goodies delivered to the home. (28 June 2014)

Such blessings! Raya goodies delivered to the home. (28 July 2014)

At the end of the second week, we had our internet line fixed, only to realise later that there is no coverage upstairs beyond certain rooms! Sigh again.

So that’s the story of the first two weeks of our move into the new home. And that’s not even going into how the Ghana cedis have depreciated tremendously in the four months we had been here, and how prices of things have risen and even doubled in a matter of weeks!

Juicy Tales

ALAS, THE KIDS aren’t particularly fond of vegetables. Thankfully they enjoy the tropical fruits here, so I am assured they still get their nutrients including vitamin C, minerals, potassium, fiber and folic acid, among others.

Tropical fruits galore including mangoes, bananas and pineapples.

We particularly enjoy the juicy and sweet mangoes, so we always end up getting more mangoes from the fruit stall. Notice the two tiny papayas next to the mangoes.

We particularly enjoy the sweet and juicy mangoes, so we always end up getting more mangoes from the fruit stall. Notice the two tiny papayas next to the mangoes.

When we are out of fresh fruits, these come to the rescue, though fresh is still the best. We’ve since identified mango juice as our favourite too.