Collecting hope

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I never got to spend time with my in-laws in my six years of marriage, as I’m getting to do so these days. My mother-in-law is suffering from brain aneurysm, and she had to admitted again in the ICU for a couple of days, as her present medicine is really strong. As I write this, I’m thinking to make her some masala tea, that she’s craving inside the ICU. The hospital is a strict one, so I will hide the tea flask in my purse and hand it over to the nurse. Hopefully, she will allow my MIL to have it.

So, I’m cooking a lot for my father-in-law (my MIL can only eat the food served at the hospital) these days, though I have to make sure that the food simple, whatsoever. I really don’t want to goof up with the dishes I serve to him. You see, my quest for cooking good food will never end. As I’m growing older (turning 30 this month), my likings are changing too. And rarely do I crave for a royal spread as it is. And, hey! It’s not a beautiful thali that we have at home on daily basis. Just the basic items. A green chutney, raita (yogurt) and a salad (for lunches) are enough. And may be a sweet dish, every once in a while (for dinners). You will never three curries/sabzis in my thali or 10 bowls of goodies on the platter at one go (hate Instagram for that, as the food pictures make me question the simple food I have at home). Just saying.

Mostly, a dish made at home turns out to be a winner when its ingredient list is small and its flavour intact. My in-laws, especially, are into simple food, and this is the one rule they go by. When I try to act like a wannabe chef and serve dishes that are complicated, it doesn’t go well at the dining table. For them, it has to be a no-nonsense vegetarian fare. I have seen cases of constipation and gas taking place after such foolish attempts, when I try to fool around in the kitchen. Actually, I’m still trying to learn which foods trigger such issues for them. And, with time, I’m learning to go with whatever that can be cooked simply, without any overload of the so-called fancy ingredients and dishes.

It was only two days back, when my mother-in-law came home after spending couple of days at the hospital. She slept really well that night, and loved being at home. It was Dussehra morning, when I asked her about the special dish to be made. She said Kheer. However, around 9AM in the morning, we noticed that she was looking lost for a few minutes, and we rushed to the hospital, fearing a clot in her brain. And the angiography report showed just that. After about a couple of hours in the hospital, she was transferred into the ICU. We three (my father-in-law, my husband and I) had spent 12 hours strolling around the hospital, and at 11PM, we came back home. She said she missed the watching the Dussehra festivities. And, there was no Kheer in the kitchen.

Recipe: Kheer

My father in law cooks occasionally, but whenever he does, it’s always a precise procedure. His Kheer (rice and milk pudding) is liked by us all, and we always try to copy what he does. From the measurement to the stirring, everything matters when it comes to preparing Kheer. During winters, he always asks us to prepare this Kheer often at home, over phone calls. Here’s his recipe.

Ingredients

2 litre milk
2 fist rice
150 to 200 gm sugar
saffron threads, cardamoms and its powder, raisins, coarsely crushed nuts (all optional)

Method

1. You need to wash the rice properly, and soak it for at least 15 minutes.
2. In a deep vessel, add the milk, and once it boils, add in the soaked rice (remove its water).
3. Once you add the rice, make sure the flame is in its lowest speed. And you should be able to see little bubbles in the sides, which means that the Kheer is getting cooked.
4. You need to stir the milk and rice mixture, every couple of minutes. Make sure the vessel’s bottom is clean; if you don’t stir from time to time, the Kheer will stick on the bottom.
5. After 20 minutes, check if the rice has been cooked. Also, now, you will see that the milk has turned a little yellow in colour. We don’t want a runny, water-like consistency. The milk should get a bit thick and creamy.
6. Add in the sugar, as the final step. After about five minutes, shut the flame. Add the seasonings, according to your choice. My father-in-law likes to keep it simple.

Now, as I write this, I’m waiting for my mother-in-law to return home soon, with good health. I keep thinking of all the simple dishes that she cooked for us, these days in the kitchen. In my next few posts, I will be uploading a few of the things that she made in the kitchen. And, I hope, this Diwali would be a really special one, with her at our side. A smile on her face, and her heart content as it always is.

What’s your special wish for this Diwali?

 

Words

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverised bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.”

– Haruki Murakami in Kakfa on the Shore 

Daily inspiration

IMG_20170904_203540_587 - CopyMonotony. We certainly need to strive hard to break it, constantly. There are so many things that can stress you out. Sometimes, you can’t stop thinking about how things could be better. But, then, you have to let go of your worries, and start breathing; once again.

As a homemaker, and, now, as a freelance writer, I have to find joy in every household chore. Cooking, however, is something that takes a lot of my mental work. ‘What should I cook today?’ is the question that kills my mind every morning. I do enjoy cooking; and when I don’t, I feel that something is missing; but, cooking, as a daily chore can be extremely monotonous. And, many a time, I fail to live up to it.

And, come on, I can’t be making pasta, hot and sour soup, Japanese-style salad or a chia seed drink daily to feel better. I have to face the veggies! Before preparing every meal, I see the veggies in the fridge and find none of which I feel like eating. Creativity and veggies hardly go hand in hand during the week, for me, at least.

Nonetheless, when you play with textures and flavours, you can, I believe, break the monotony. We never got new items to eat every week in my mum’s kitchen. But, still, almost all the dishes that she made, had us kids drool them. Like this Mirchi ki sabzi.

It looks hot, but it isn’t. It is tangy in taste and soft in texture (can be mashed easily) and goes perfectly with my roti or rice. What I really like about it is that it doesn’t go stale easily. So, I always end up enjoying it the following day also. I can imagine, in a climate like that of Jaiselmer’s, this dish fits aptly.

Till date, I haven’t been able to crack my mum’s exact recipe, but, that said, I’m not afraid of trying it again an again. So, the next time you see these green chillies in your vegetable market, add some in your cart/basket as well. I hope you try this recipe, and feel a little better about the ‘daily cooking’ process. Remember, we have to constantly break the monotony, or else. Well, or else, you might end up picking up the phone and making the food orders ever so often. What do you think?

Recipe: Mirchi ki sabzi (green chilly sabzi)

Ingredients

7 to 10 green chillies (these are thick and long green chillies that are milder than the small ones; don’t mix them with fat green chillies that we use for mirchi pakodas)
1 tsp black sesame seed powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
½ tsp mango powder (optional; I didn’t use it in my recipe)
2 tsp peanut oil or any oil
salt to taste
2 tbsp cream (I used homemade malai); you could use milk if you don’t have fresh cream
½ tsp cumin seeds (optional)
2 pinches of asafoetida
¾ tsp turmeric power
Method

1. When you buy your green chillies, wash them and make sure all the water has dried up before you make this sabzi. Now, chop them and throw them inside a strainer. Make sure there is a plate below. You basically have to remove the white seeds inside the green chillies; so, you can keep moving these chillies lightly in the strainer, so that the seeds separate.
2. Now, heat oil in a small skillet. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder; stir for 2 seconds and add the chopped green chillies. Make sure the heat of the stove is not on high. If I don’t pay attention, I end up coughing.
3. Stir it for a few times till you see the chillies more than half cooked. Now, add the spices and salt. The coriander and sesame seed powders are the winners of the dish.
4. Once you stir in the spices and let them cook for about 3 minutes, add a tsp of malai or cream. Now, add as your dish requires. This will soften the texture and reduce the heat of the chillies as well.
5. After about 3 more minutes of stirring, switch off the flame. I usually have this with hot whole wheat or sorghum rotis.

Life is what you make it

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I wish, life was as simple as this recipe. Hibernate for a few hours, strain all the negative energies out, and come out shining. But the fact is, it’s not. Hell, it’s worse. Even if you live life on your own terms, it’s still tough. And you constantly have to fight crazy situations you never dreamt of. When I see winners around me; people who can’t stop celebrating, people who are too busy in raising kids; people who are living the lives of their dreams, I wonder, why it isn’t so with me? How I wish I came out battling every fear, every negative energy I get from a few people and every regret with ease.

August-September is officially the worst months of the year for me. And the current record has a similar pattern like the past times. So, how do you think I will cope now? It makes me feel even worse when I think of October, as I will be turning 30, and believe me, I have achieved nothing at all in life. Yes, I have the best support system in terms of family, but on my ‘own’ grounds I have reached nowhere. But, here’s how I think I can save my boat from sinking. I’m joining an art class from tomorrow for which I was waiting for years. I’m extremely thrilled to pick up the paint brush–instead of a phone or a keypad–and draw something beautiful. I hope, I learn a technique or two and can pat my back for doing something.

How I truly wish, life could be as simple as this recipe. Hibernate for a few hours, strain all the negative energies out, and come out shining.

Recipe: Shrikhand (Sweetened Greek yogurt)

If you come home at 7PM and you want to have dessert at 10PM, you can make this Gujarati dish. All you need is fresh curd. But, my experience says that it tastes better after 12 hours when kept in the fridge. Sorry for the dreadful timeline. Life is tough, buddy. But this wait would be rewarding, I can promise.

Ingredients

600 ml homemade yogurt (shouldn’t be sour)
3-4 spoons of sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder
a few threads of saffron
powdered, unsalted pistachio nuts (fresh and crunchy)
1 tsp cold milk

Things/tools you would need

White muslin cloth (don’t take the stained one with which you strained your beetroot juice; no, actually, you can)
Steel strainer (I use a round, medium-sized strainer that looks like a small wok)
3 shot glasses (why? it’s the best size you can go for with this much curd)

Method

1. Cover the strainer with a damp muslin cloth (make sure you clean it properly; I wash it five times to remove all the detergent or dust from it). Now, slowly, put the curd in this; spoon by spoon. Make sure you have a deep container resting well below the strainer in which all the water can be collected.
2. Pull the four corners of the muslin cloth slowly and tie roll it till it’s tight. Don’t go ahead and press the curd with your fingers; it will strain from the cloth and come out. I have done this mistake twice. All you want to do is remove all the water from the curd, and this can happen slowly, and on its own. Just leave it to rest. Some people tie a knot and keep this curd muslin bag hanging on the kitchen tap, where all the water can dip in the sink. But, I find it a bit risky. Can’t see my curd falling down the sink. Anyhow.
3. Leave this for almost three hours. Yes, the yogurt will take this much time to completely thicken up.
4. After about three hours, you will be surprised to see the water. Mind you, this is whey protein. So, if you’re a health junkie, you can drink it to build muscles. Sorry. I was trying to be funny. Don’t ever get this thought going in your mind like me.
5. Now, remove the thick yogurt in another round vessel. Add the sugar and cardamom powder. And all you have to do now is whisk them with a ladle, whisker, spoon or whatever you have in hand. I usually whisk it for 3 to 4 minutes, till I taste the yogurt for sugar and it comes out fine. Also, you might find the yogurt a tad bit tangy, but, don’t worry. The poor thing was out of the fridge for three hours.
6. Take the tsp of milk in a tiny bowl and add the saffron threads in it. Give it a mix and throw in the yogurt mixture.
7. With the help of a tsp, add this mixture in your shot glasses. Once done, add a single thread of saffron on it. Store these glasses in the fridge (not freezer) for a few hours or say, 12 hours. Do add a thread of saffron on top, as it will leave a beautiful yellow colour the next day. And when keeping the glasses in the fridge, you will have to cover them. I just put a round plate on my glasses. You could use the fancy cling film.
8. Before serving, garnish the glasses with roughly pounded pistachio nuts. If the nuts are salted, ignore this step altogether.

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After eating my Shrikhand, I almost end up eating up my spoon too. Hope you don’t. Until next time…

PS. There’s an epic joke attached with Shrikhand. Back in the days when we used to live in Mumbai, my husband usually went to Matunga to buy our veggies and kitchen items. So, one day, he saw Shrikhand in one of the shelves. He was about to pick it up, and I stopped him abruptly. “Don’t you dare buy this Shrikhand! I will make it for you in five minutes at home! That will be the best,” I answered him coldly. “All you have to do is whisk the yogurt,” I added. “I can do that like a pro,” and I went on. And, I never, ever made any Shrikhand at home. I never made any.

It’s only now and the first time, that I made Shrikhand at home (in my six years of marriage). And, now I can’t stop making it. Dear husband loves it so much!

When it rains, it pours!

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I grew up in an apartment or condominium as you’d like to say. And my father’s house is still the same, since almost 29 years. Now, in our building, we’ve had many people coming in and going out. But a few of them have been living there since the start, including us and a Jain family. Almost a decade ago, when I was in my teens, a new member joined this Jain family. The woman happens to be one of the most inspiring people I have met in life till now, and we connected the moment we sat to chat.

When I first met Pooja, whom I call Pooja bhabhi, I got to sense what simplicity is all about. Pooja likes to live her life extremely simple, though she herself is a strong-headed woman. There are no frills or nothing fake about her. Her reactions are almost straightforward, and she is one of those women who will advise what’s right, and not what you want to hear all the time. So, when she smiles, you know she means it. What I also like about her is that she is a spiritual person, and believes in karma. In spite of being married to an affluent family, she never shows that every human being should have so much money, unlike most of the people like her, with whom I only feel suffocating.

Pooja came to Surat from Jaisingpur, Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. And I love her cooking. What was common between us was the hobbies we had, be it singing, seeking inspiration from the common people around us, cooking, and not to forget dancing in the rains. Pooja had to manage a huge kitchen as a newlywed daughter-in-law, but when she glanced the first pour of the season, she couldn’t control her feet. She had to rush to the terrace and enjoy the rains like a child. And I liked it too. So, I used to be back from school, and we happened to eat lunch or an evening snack together, and suddenly, we saw rains. Or, it would be a lazy Sunday morning, when we finished our breakfast together, and we saw the rains. And we knew, we had to dance in the rains at least once in the entire season.

After enjoying our singing and dancing session in the beautiful rains, we came back, changed, and met again to enjoy a sweet dish called Dudhi ka halwa (bottle gourd pudding). Now, I didn’t know that such a simple vegetable could be turned into a yum sweet dish. But, Pooja bhabhi did a brilliant job at it. She used to grate some bottle gourd, and make a quick halwa, and believe me, its satiny texture blew my mind with every morsel that I took from the hot bowl in which she served me this freshly prepared dish.

Dudhi ka halwa is very different from other halwas that are made of almond or wheat flour or semolina. Its texture is the winner for me, and the other thing that I love about it is the fact that it has minimal sugar. Yes, it still does taste sweet, but it hardly has any sugar in it.

So, the next time you see rains pouring, do go out, drench in the beautiful showers, and come back home and prepare this sweet dish. It’s only then will you be able to enjoy the smallest yet the most beautiful things about life. And just like me, you will find hope. Just don’t burn your tongue. 

Happy rains!

Recipe: Dudhi ka halwa (lauki/bottle gourd pudding)

Ingredients:

1 small- or medium-sized fresh bottle gourd
4 tbsp clarified butter
½ cup malai or fresh cream (I take the first layer of the fresh milk that I boil and keep in the fridge)
3 tbsp sugar or less
1 or 2 cups milk (depending on the quantity of the grated bottle gourd)
2 pinch of cardamom powder, completely optional

Method

  1. Peel the bottle gourd and grate it.
    2. Heat the ghee in a steel skillet on low flame. Meanwhile, press the grated bottle gourd between your palms and remove all the water from it. Remember, you don’t want to make this grated vegetable go dark brown. So, always be on your toes, and rush a bit faster. This way, you will always find the grated veggie white and fresh-looking.
    3. Once the ghee is hot, add the grated bottle gourd in it. Now, stir it continuously.
    4. The deal here is to get rid of the raw taste of the bottle gourd. I usually turn the heat to medium at this stage; me being impatient. After about 12 minutes of stirring, you will see that the quantity will go down slightly, and the veggie will throw out its natural aromas. This is when you know that the cooking process has begun.
    5. Now, add the fresh malai. I break all the rules here and add as much as I like.
    6. Stir the malai in, and now, you will have to solidify this malai into a khoya-style texture. So, keep stirring, and after about 15 minutes you’ll see that the malai has turned into tiny solid cream-coloured pieces.
    7. Add in the milk. I usually add milk till it covers the content in the skillet nicely. Let the boiling process begin. Also, you don’t need to cover it with a lid. It’s better to stir every minute then to let it burn under a closed lid.
    8. Once, all the milk evaporates, the halwa will leave out all the ghee from the corners. This is when I add my sugar. I take about 2 or 3 spoon sugar. You could add more if you want to.
    9. Let the sugar melt, and you can shut the flame.

Note: When you taste the halwa when it’s still in the skillet, you might find it a tad bit feeka or sugarless. This is because when it cools down, it gets its sweetness. In short, less is more, when it comes to sugar in Dudhi ka halwa.

Break the monotony

There’s something about me and Asian flavours. I feel like I was born to like Soy sauce. Add this sauce to my rice, soup, noodles and even my salad, and I will eat with a big smile. So, last weekend, I was raking my brains yet again, as to what to cook! Seriously, there’s no dearth of inspiration on the net, but there’s just so much in my kitchen, and only so much I can make of it.

Cucumber is one thing you’ll always find in my fridge. English cucumber, to be precise. So, I  happened to scroll for some recipes on YouTube, and I found this weird recipe of smashed cucumbers. Chef John of Food Wishes is one of my favourite YouTube food vloggers, and I loved how he made this salad, and I went ahead and tried it.

You know, you always like the steps involved in a recipe, and the many ingredients that it calls for, but in reality, only simple recipes can save your day. Because when you’re really hungry, all that matters is how quickly you can cook up a dish.

Raw dishes like salads are something I’ve always enjoyed. Contrary to my weight, which is extremely low, I should be eating fat, carbohydrate, protein and high-calorie food items. But, who cares! There’s something about the freshness, crunchy texture and dressing that I’m always lured towards all sorts of salads, and recently, Asian salads have taken the focal light. No wonder, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on my bowl, and I will never leave my salad.

Recipe: Chinese-style Smashed Cucumber Salad

Okay, first things first, it’s not compulsory for you to take only cucumbers. You can always take more veggies like bell peppers and spring onions, for colour. But I liked how chef John made it, and I don’t want to disturb his dish much. I didn’t have rice vinegar, so I added lemon juice. And you can always add more seeds like toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds to make it more healthy.

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, washed
1 tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp sugar
juice of half a lemon
½ tsp soy sauce
½ tsp toasted sesame seeds

Method:

It’s all about smashing the cucumbers. I covered mine with a muslin cloth, and lightly smashed the green boy with my pestle (copper hamam dasta). This is done to give you a taste of its natural flavour. Also, you don’t have to completely murder it. Just crush it from the middle and quickly cut it with a knife. Add the chopped cucumber in a bowl, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Garnish it with toasted sesame seeds, but believe me, do as you please. You don’t have to follow any rules!

London Diary: Entry One

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Recently, I got a chance to spend two-and-a-half weeks in London. Now, the most confusing part here is to shortlist the places where you want to go. You really can’t say. Any place can interest you but if the options are so many, you are all the more confused. And no one wants to miss out on anything.

When I used to study in Bengaluru, I got a chance to visit Blossom Bookstore in Church Street. It’only then that I realised what it is to find a rare, vintage book after spending hours digging rows of books. After moving to Mumbai, my love for second hand books went to another level, thanks to King’s Circle. Sadly, in Gurgaon, this fascination took a setback as there is hardly any corner that has second hand books for readers. I’ve been living here for more than three years now; which is why, the idea of exploring the second hand bookstores in London excited me. But, it’s only when I visited these stores did I realise how lucky I was to be there. I did not utilize my time well; otherwise, I would have gone to many other shops as well.

So, guys, if you happen to be in London and have a day or two in hand, do visit one of these places. I found my lost love for old books in these pretty corners of the city back, and how! May be, you would too.

Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross

It was a rainy day, and I was there, strolling in the streets of Charing Cross Road, looking for Any Amount of Books. After a detour, I got my way here near Leicester Square tube station. And, when I entered the bookstore, I could not believe my eyes. “Whoa! So many second hand books are stocked in here,” I thought to myself. I went to the underground section, but, quickly came back to the main door and started looking at the fiction titles from one shelf. Just the experience of taking almost every second book from the shelf and grabbing a quick look was not less surreal. How can I ever make a decision of which books I want to buy? I thought midway. But, then, the best part came up. Unlike other bookstores that stocked new books with each title no less than £8, this was a sweet spot. These books were priced from £1 to £4 and that made my decision an easy one. Let me say, I was extremely lucky to spot some beautiful books that I have got with me back to India, and I have already begun reading them. I absolutely loved the collection of old books in this store. You will find the best prices of books here. Especially for me, as I don’t like to spend big bucks at one go. Spent nearly two hours going through the books, and ended up buying more than 10 books. My bill was £30 and believe me, I was so, so happy!

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London Review of Books, Bloomsbury

I and my husband happened to go to British Museum one morning, and after a few hours, when we were hungry, we went strolling around the museum area for some good place to relax and grab a meal. My luck was such that I could easily spot this bookstore, and I knew this had to be good. Did I mention I was hungry? No way! Yes, I have heard its name, read it somewhere online, saw a lady carrying a tote with its name imprinted on it, I thought to myself. But little did I know that the stock of books would be so amazing that we had to come back here within a week. Yes, it’s the best bookstore when it comes to the interesting collection of books the people stock here. I picked up two books by Japanese authors like Banana Yoshimoto, and let me confess, I would have never spotted them online. The thing with buying books online is that you don’t get to flip through the books. I was so headstrong to buy a few books, but then, with the price range was such (£8 onwards) that I felt stupid and kept them back. But I did note down the titles in my phone! The store also has a little cafe; we liked the fresh salads they served there. London Review of Books is the place, if you want to get lost and discover new and old authors, but more precisely, gems. And I did buy a tote with its name on it. Another £3 went out of my pocket. But, what the hell.

Foyles, Charing Cross

Within 15 minutes in this store and I almost felt like I will faint down on the floor or something. This store is huge! But, oh, what a colourful sight it was! I was speechless. I remember I went to the section where they had these food books, and it seemed like there’s no end to it! From what I can recollect, it’s a four-storeyed building and you will certainly need a high level of energy to explore this place. There are books on various topics and genres here, and the quantity is matchless. Till now I thought Crossword at Kemps Corner, Mumbai is big, but I was simply wrong. Foyles is massive! So, save a day’s energy if you want to explore this shop. I didn’t buy anything from here, but it sure blew my mind away. Also, it’s a fun place to bring your family with you. There’s something for everyone, and the kids will love the happy vibes and colours you see about the place.

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Lutyens & Rubinstein, Kensington Park Road

We were exploring the Portobello Road Market and Notting Hill area, when we decided to go to the famous Notting Hill Bookshop. Luckily, I happened to Google more names, and found this one. Lutynes & Rubinstein is a secluded corner of the city, which has good books and the perfect environment to read and get lost. It’s a quaint little bookshop, and offered me some respite from the busy streets. The basement section was where I found some known yet lovely titles. These were books I have been meaning to pick up, but kept pushing for later. I especially liked the poetry section; and the wall art and decor was too good, I almost felt like grabbing a chair, and sitting here for a break, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the market. There was a counter with a coffee machine as well, and a huge reading table. Oh, I really wanted to sit back, but we had to leave and explore more. I bought a teal-coloured fridge magnet from this place, and saved a few titles in my notes on my phone for later. Coincidently, all of them had pink-coloured covers.

Henry Pordes Books, Charing Cross

If you are into art and photography, you can’t miss going to this bookstore. There is a stately feeling that you get when you enter this place. If you love those red antique hardback books, this one is a gem of a place for you. I haven’t seen such a huge stock of such books anywhere else. I enjoyed being at Henry Pordes Books, listening to the conversations of the two people sitting at the payment counter (they were discussing food markets and book festivals), and going through the hardback, second hand copies. The store also had some signed copies by authors, which gave me a sense of its high stature and genuineness.

London is a big city, and there was no way that I could visit each bookstore that was in my list. I did go to Books for Cooks, but it was closed (Sunday, may be?). Whenever I get a golden opportunity to visit this city again, I will not miss these book places: Libreria, Judd Books, Skoob Bookstore, Housmans Bookshop, Persephone, Southbank Book Market, Foster’s Bookshop and Brick Lane Bookshop. A small list, this one, I know. But, hey! This city can make you crazy in the head with its beauty, let me warn you.

PS. I was at Quinto & Francis Edwards Bookshop, and I wish I could capture the moment where I was in the basement, and all I could see was how reading enthusiasts were engrossed in books with their hats and umbrellas and hear a pin drop silence. Soon, I became conscious, but then I got it. You had to find a fixed shelf for yourself, and the rule was to not move more around too fast, or they shudder and look at you with disgust. Old men, stylish young girls, middle-aged men, curious teen boys, carefree aged women–all of them together, exploring the world of books. One sight it was!