Before we left London, I was numb yet determined. Numb because there was just too much to say goodbye to, way too many memories and routines and faces. Determined because moving was what we were doing. In the midst of the packing and goodbying, I wanted to capture some of what had been my experience from 2005 to 2015. Time was tight and in the end two gatherings took place, each with friends in their homes and around food that was a part of my Southall experience.
The moment of my arrival was marked with Sally’s open door. I lived with Sally and her family briefly during the fall of 2005. Sally’s home was (and still is) alive with people and plants and pets and chatter. It was warm with cups of tea and meals around her table.
Later that fall, I moved into a house with a few single women. Yasmin was one of those women. She would cook mouth-watering Pakistani food. One of the simple dishes she made was an omelette with spring onions, ginger, and coriander.
On a cool spring morning about a month before we left England for India, Sally opened her door once again and Yasmin came to make the omelettes I remembered and enjoyed.
There was time for one more meeting to remember and enjoy a home, a lady, and her food. Balbinder’s pakora’s and chutney have been requested for countless gatherings.
I watched her work and listened to her talk me through her steps and ingredients. My question, “Tell me how you learned to cook?”, led us into some of her family’s story. Balbinder was seven years old when her family moved to the UK from India in the late 1950’s. She remembers cooking in an outside building and carrying the food upstairs to her family. They did not have a radio or television in those early days. They cooked, ate, and played together.