Auntiji goes to a coffee morning ☕️🍰

Auntiji 1: I’m reporting this event to the trading standards authority !

Auntiji 2: Kyo kya hua? (Why what happened?)You sound angry but look very at peace.

Auntiji 1: Well I just went for a coffee and a slice of cake !!

Auntiji 2: Chalo (come)sit down and have a cup of tea and tell me what those Bandhan ladies have done this time ?!?🙄

Auntiji 1: Mai bolti kum hoo magar (I am not one for speaking but) as you are asking let me begin at the start. Kuch meetha hai chai ke saath (do you have anything sweet to go with the tea)?

I thought after the Bollywood night and the New Year’s Eve Party they would know what they were doing. It doesn’t take much does it to make a cup of tea and buy a cake from Sainsbury. Do you agree?

Auntiji 2; Well to be honest I went to both of those events and don’t recall seeing you there ? Aap busy the? (Were you busy?)My husband , our children, our grandchildren, our neighbours we all had a great time. Even the PM came !!

Auntiji 1: Bhenji (sister)I think you mean the MP🙄

Anyway back to meri kahani (my story)…. yes I would like more tea please.

• Well you know how normally at apne functions everything runs late – well kya kahu…sub time par aiye except me!! Mujhe kya pata tha yeh sub modern ho gaye (I didn’t realise they had all become modern)!! Yes yes they may just be well mannered people.

• Then the organisers – Suman, Sati, Rekha and Poonam were so nice and had planned everything. How can they be so nice ? They think of everything.

• Then there were others , you know some volunteer type log who were helping out and being kind and community minded (yeh mere bas ki baat nahin hain – I’m not that way inclined).Let me think there was a Maya, another Rekha ( naam kitna common ho gaya 🙄- what a common name ), Preeti, Induji, Misha and some young girl called Sunaina doing mehendi –henna ( was it a wedding !!). Oh do you like the design she’s done … it’s very intricate don’t you think ?

• Then Rekha P did some meditation. I know what you’re thinking… I did enjoy it but my mind kept on going to all the food that was there. Perhaps I should have tried harder.

• Then we did bingo … it was fun. And very cheap to play you know. I nearly won you know !

• And to top it all off we had apple pie/coconut sponge and lemon cakes/pakora/dhokra and other bits.Ok so they were delicious but I am sure my Victoria sponge is better. Ok so it’s been over 20years since I baked but I was just saying.

• And do you know what those Bandhan girls did … they let some men attend. Even a little young man. Yes yes I know one of them was my husband but that’s not the point. Yes it was nice to have a mix of people there. You know what people do … they talk! But the gup shup (chit chat)was very entertaining indeed.

Auntiji 1: And you know I wanted to see for myself that Suman lady I mentioned earlier. Everyone had been saying that she had the look of Olivia Coleman and was quite regal looking. Mai jhoot nahi bolti (I’m not lying)but log were absolutely correct. I think that meditation is making me a nicer person you know 💕.

Auntiji 2: Didi aap such bol rahi ho ( sister you are correct). I’ve also had so many messages saying she is such a good organiser. She should consider a career change but kya kare woh to doctor hai (what to do she is a doctor) 🙏🏽. She thought of everything- bin bags, a knife, trays for serving cakes, kitchen roll, lace tablecloths, spare food bags for people to take some food home (Oh I see you have some there – her coconut sponge cake and some dhokra – don’t confuse them) , sellotape and blue TAC. Literally everything.👍🏽

Auntiji 1: Do you think she would help with my Sunny’s wedding?? Why are you so quiet?

Auntiji 2: Looks like you had a horrible time meeting old friends … the bathroom…, it’s over to the left. Apne aaj jaada chai pee hai (did you drink too much tea) ?😉

Auntiji 1: No no I didn’t say that I did not enjoy. I was just saying ….. yes a little too much chai 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Auntiji 2: I can make the next coffee morning so shall my husband and I pick you and Bhai up then?

Auntiji 1: Make sure you come nice and early … hum late nahin hona chahte (we don’t want to be late)!! Please apni diary me write karlo Friday 12th April. It starts at 10am so pick us up at 9am. It finishes at 12.30. Then afterwards perhaps we can have lunch at yours ?

Auntiji 2: We’ll see you at 9.45!!! We live in Bedford and the venue will be in Bedford. Unless you want to help ???

Auntiji 1: bye sweetie !! See you soon.

———————————————————

Don’t be like Auntiji 1

Be like Auntiji 2.

Come and create some memories with new and old friends.

You may meet an Uncleji or two 😂.

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I ate chicken today and cried 🐓😢

Chicken ??

I thought you were a vegetarian. I am … always have been and will continue to be.

This is the very short story that is not letting me fall asleep tonight.

I decided to upgrade to business on my Air India flight from Kolkata to Delhi: charge my phone , use the WiFi , eat some more .. be rude not to.

All settled in and we’re off. Lunch is to be served and I opted for the paneer option.The loaded tray arrives with so much going on it. I take a fork full of rice and a small piece of the paneer curry. This paneer is funny 🤔. I don’t like it. Then it dawns on me that it isn’t paneer afterall. I poke around in the dish and find chicken. I am traumatised as is probably the air stewardess and the gentleman to my left 🤦🏽‍♀️ I said in a whimper whilst tears were falling “I’ve never eaten meat and because of you I’ve just had a bit of chicken”. Some of you may say that’s rather careless of you Seema? Under normal circumstances one wouldn’t miss a chicken 🐓! But this was in a curry and I was expecting paneer. By the time I had eaten the small piece it was too late.

Had I done something to upset the gods? Anyway I can’t tell you why I cried for some time, but I did.

The stewardess says she’s a vegetarian too and is upset. The catering team had labelled the meal incorrectly. She replaced the tray. I swigged lots of water. She came back with a feedback form which I duly completed.Let’s see what they say, if anything or perhaps something along these lines…..

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… we were horrified to hear of your experience at the hand of our team. Please accept this basket of vegetables with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian…we understand you experienced some issues with our onboard catering. Please accept these business class tickets for two to a destination of your choice with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… it was with some surprise that we received your complaint. We have asked for a thorough investigation and will ensure that one of the team gets back to you at the earliest opportunity.

I’m a forever vegetarian… I don’t want to change. I can’t stop thinking about it. How long will the chicken be inside me. It was only a small piece. Can someone please make sense of this. I think I have a tummy ache. My body is not used to it 😢🤬

🙏🏽

Seema

I also realised I have a real dislike of arrogant Indian businessmen (you’ll know when you see one). Rules are not just for the rest of us. Seriously if you don’t want to obey the flight rules just get your own jet. I digress…..🤷🏽‍♀️

TRADE SHOWS – I love them !!

Miles away from the UK I am seeing posts from ex colleagues and friends from Spring Fair and Ambiente. I have a slight twinge of jealousy but only because they brings back happy memories.

I started my journey with Spring Fair in 1989 and Ambiente in 1999.This will be the first year since then that I have not attended in some guise. I may be unusual in the fact that I actually relished the shows.It is a wonderful opportunity to show your wares in the best light possible – and with the money being spent on the stands you’d better make it work. It is also a chance to meet and reconnect with old friends, colleagues and business partners. No better opportunity than these shows to catch up with the industry barometer. It is also the time to brush up on your air kissing skills.

Some basics for shows -the show haircut and the show suit/dress. See how many you can spot! And don’t forget the sensible shoes and the Barocca. It’s about survival and unfortunately sometimes being sensible seems to be long forgotten.

Spring Fair would always mean consecutive nights out in Birmingham and the body progressively screaming for sleep. But no matter what, a day on the stand meant looking alert and behaving professionally. The food experience is best forgotten unless you are one of those that brought a packed lunch – yes I have seen this. And please tell me I am not the only one who has lost her car in that NEC car park. And then on a rare occasion the weather would cause mayhem but it would all be forgotten as the circus moved to Frankfurt.

You knew it was show time as you looked around the plane and clocked familiar faces and it certainly wasn’t a wedding party.It’s advisable to keep quiet during that short journey.

Ambiente provides the opportunity for buyers and sellers to come together from around the globe. There’s a definite buzz and a cacophony of different languages along the aisles. Love the visits on the stands from the most enthusiastic buyers who will spend hours and then ask for a price for 24pcs. Hours of waiting for that one meeting that makes it all worthwhile 😉. Patience is a skill that is needed in good amounts. Oh and those long pointless chats with your colleagues to fill the gaps. I know you like them but by day 5 enough is enough and home beckons.

As a vegetarian in Frankfurt I learnt to love cream cheese and cucumber. But GreenPan upped the stakes on the food front. I discovered that at Spring Fair when the show closes it closes – at Ambiente it’s the time to open the beers and nuts. And nights in Frankfurt during show time would not be complete without a night at a curry house and another at the Irish Bar and definitely one where I would watch others eat hunks of meat!!🤦🏽‍♀️

All that said it’s about getting those listings for the exhibitors and finding that next big thing for the buyers … before your rival!!!

Good luck to all those … hard core show attendees flitting from Birmingham to Frankfurt to Chicago.

Seema

The overfamiliar taxi driver ….

I knew it was going to be interesting when after picking me up we didn’t make our way straight to the bypass that leads to the M1, but headed into Bromham.

It was daylight and a Wednesday in Bedford – I’m sure I wasn’t being kidnapped!! And anyway a friend had seen me get into the taxi. Perhaps I’m reading too many Pd James, Ruth Rendell, Donna Leon,Ian Rankin and watching too many cop shows — Vera and Silent Witness, you have a lot to answer to.

But no! He was just short of ⛽️!! He’s already been to Heathrow once today and luckily has a pickup from Terminal 3 which fits in perfectly with my drop off. Jolly good !! He offers to buy me a drink which I politely refuse and proudly produce my water bottle so as not to offend.

But as we approached the petrol station we can see a long queue. So he drives past and doubleS back onto the bypass. The locals will know that the Bedford town is in total meltdown since Sainsbury’s have decided to zhuzh up their offering. Me thinks they are trying harder now Aldi has appeared next door. Don’t worry,I will stay loyal, dear Sainsbury’s. 💕

Anyway back to fuel for a taxi 🚕 that I’ve booked to take me to Heathrow. And because I am so early I am calm. Our next stop is the Shell garage on the dual carriageway towards junction 13. I am still calm.

By Luton we both know how long we’ve lived in Bedford. Me somewhat longer than him ; 21 years vs. 14. We both agree it’s a good location – upon which he reels off all the local towns that are within easy reach – Northampton, Luton, Wellingborough, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. I think I am losing the will.

I need to learn not to be so friendly !! I am now bonding further with the Asian taxi driver over Southall restaurants and which one does the best breakfast. I haven’t the heart to tell him I’ve only ever had that in one !!! 😂

He’s very accommodating and is happy for me to listen to anything I want. I decide not to choose Hindi music incase it leads to more conversation and opt for the safe option of BBC 5 Live.

We arrive in good time and I leave a tip because I am grateful to be out. The last straw was the belch from my new friend…..

🙏🏽

Seema

Dear Mrs May … would you mind if I called you Theresa?

Dear Theresa

I’m leaving the country !

Don’t panic I’m not going for good just for a few weeks.

So whilst I am away I would love it if you could get the following bits resolved. Think you really need to pass the Brexit parcel on and leave it to someone else? There’s so much more to sort.

⁃ Education: yes please🤷🏽‍♀️

⁃ Transport: yes please. 🤷🏽‍♀️

⁃ Healthy economy: pretty please 🙏🏽

⁃ Health: I don’t care much for the new digital doctor service. I don’t much like calling every morning at 8 for the same day appointment and not getting through either. You’ll be soon telling us to self diagnose and medicate! I neither have the words or the time to write more and know there are others more qualified than me to do this.

⁃ Weather : if you could just by chance organise another summer like 2018 I’d would be super grateful.

You may be reading this and shaking your head in dismay. Is it too simplified.. do I need to submit a 100page PowerPoint for each proposal. Why ? You have a host of experts… don’t you? You as the PM need to deliver it.

I know you don’t have many friends at the moment (even though the Daily Mail is being a total suck ass .. again) and after what I am asking you to do it may make it worse. But at least you may gain some brownie points with the people ! Here goes …

⁃ parliament: do you think that this is how people in industry or education or healthcare behave towards each other? Is this what you think intelligent debate is? What a rotten example you’re setting to the nation. Shame on you. If you want to have bants do it in your own time. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh.

⁃ Your team or lack of it. 1. Grayling: a posting to Tasmania? What harm could he possibly do ?2.Gove: lock him in the under-stairs cupboard. 3.Boris: I’m assuming you will be a NFI at all future raves chez Boris. I feel he deserves an ambassadorial role somewhere far far far away. 4.David Davies: Send him somewhere where he can grow some balls! Sorry to be so crude but there’s no other way of putting it. 5.Jacob Rees Mogg: Don’t turn your back on him😈🔪.

Oooh another idea perhaps they could form the new Mongolian Trade Advisory Board.

Just so there are no mix ups. I am a Labour voter (could you tell ..but would be happy if Jezza took up a new project) and a remainer. If you need me just PM me ( ask one of your young advisors what that means) and as I’m out of work at the moment I could spare some time. I won’t blame the B word for my redundancy whilst others would rightly do so . I’m of Indian origin,married to an Englishman and did an Engineering Degree. Imagine how many boxes you would tick with me on side ✅✅✅✅

I’m not saying I have the answers but would certainly add some spice to the debate!!

I’m back on 13th March and will wait with some anxiety for 29th March. Actually I may extend my stay 🤔.

Toodle pip and Namaste.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: enjoy Brussels 👍🏽 and say hi to Mr Barnier.

I think I may have too many shoes ? 👢👡👠🥿👟🥾

To be clear from the off, by shoes I am obviously referring to the whole family of footwear. No discrimination here.

You may be wondering “what makes you think you have too many shoes Seema?And how many constitute as too many?” I think I always knew but in the spirit of New Year openness and cleansing I am willing to put it in writing. I am actually too embarrassed and lazy to count them. All I know is that I have three crates in the under-stairs cupboard, stacks in the spare bedroom wardrobe and a big bag in the boot🤦🏽‍♀️. My cardrobe was always fully equipped.

I’m a 5/5.5 in shoe size (38/38.5 in European sizing … wonder if they’ll stop putting that on after Brexit) so bloody average. Never have a problem buying shoes. But I can’t blame the easy availability of stock for them ending up in my house. I wonder if my job at Lilley & Skinner (that was a high street shoe store chain many many years ago) in my teens is responsible! I don’t buy online … need the drama of trying on. And loving the new headset worn by store staff – I would have added a clipboard too if it was in my control.

Seriously I only have

⁃ Boots : ankle, knee length, flats,heeled, black, grey and tan.And those blue suede thigh length ones that were a bargain buy from TK Maxx. There were some red knee length FM boots(if you know you know)once upon a time. And don’t forget I do have some walking boots 🥾 which migrate between the house and shed. But why is it that every year I want flat black boots? I think it’s just the ritual of saying it.

⁃ Flats: all shapes and colours because every Spring I am heard to say “really need some comfy flats for this year”.

⁃ Casual or smart: well everything to take me from morning to work to an evening out 👍🏽

⁃ Trainers : indoor and outdoor (gosh I sound super sporty). I have but 3 pairs but for years I had one whereas the hubby had crate fulls.

⁃ Wellies: hmmm when did I use them last ??

⁃ Slippers : yes they were a Christmas pressie but they are super cosy during these winter months. Wear your gift people and don’t regift these beauties.

⁃ Flip flops : who doesn’t love a flip flop. Even the trendy Havanas have made it here.

⁃ Wedges and sandals : goodness let’s skip this one otherwise we will lose the will.

⁃ Indian box- the chappals (leather or plastic flats) and shiny party sandals. I know all Indian women will have this category covered.

I do look after my things and am still wearing shoes from 8 years ago!!

I’ve been known to buy two colours if I find a comfy pair. I’ve also bought the same shoes if they are super comfy😉. I went through a phase of buying those individual clear shoe boxes – that was not only going to make the storage neater but I was going to be able to see at a glance all my options. Great in theory but I would have needed a separate room to store all that air! I gave up on it and have the boxes hiding from me behind some dresses and coats. In the original days of Polaroid I tried attaching a photo of the shoes to box – let’s just say this lasted all of 1 attempt. I should really stop reading magazine articles about storage solutions!!! The rule now is if they are expensive the box stays. Simple.

It’s always been about comfort over fashion – stupidly wide feet decide that. I am in awe of those women who can wear those pointy shoes with high heels. No.. it’s not because I’m in my 50s. I never could. They make it look so easy and classy. Heels supposedly elongate your foot/ankle and make you look sexier (that’s what I heard many years ago). I personally can’t see what’s sexy about someone walking pigeon steps or teetering most of the time. I do have a collection heels that rarely come out. But I normally carry a spare flatter pair if bag allows 😉👠🥿. And if all else fails just take them off and walk barefoot until a taxi passes by.

I did try and de-clutter recently and I got rid of one pair of orange patent sandals 🤷🏽‍♀️ – What were they for ?? Very poor cost:wear ratio I’m sure. I am certain I don’t have an addiction!! Or affliction. Let’s see if I can get through 2019 without buying any new footwear 🤔. Having no job will certainly focus my mind. So if you see me fawning over some tan sandals similar to several pairs already in my collection I give you full permission ( and so does hubby) to drag me away and make an example of me.

Actually on reflection, I MAY have too much of many things in this life. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you – not today anyway.

Now to get ready for tonight’s dinner. What shoes to wear?Do any of them work with this dress?????? I know what will happen. I will try several pairs and then parade in front of hubby and say which one as I walk with a left and right of different styles. He’ll no doubt say “they both look great”. I’ll put them away carefully and then either the comfy black boots or flat tan ankle boots will emerge for the night.🤦🏽‍♀️

🙏🏽

Seema

What’s weight got to do with it? And how life got in the way of a perfect body.

It turns out quite a lot. I have spent most of my adult life worrying about, discussing or contemplating my weight and my body shape. And if not mine I have been involved in conversations with family and friends about their weight!! And have probably commented about others’ weights without their knowledge and read countless articles and watched numerous tv shows all connected to weight/diets.

Health Warning: for those that know me you know that I have several food rules ;

⁃ I would rather eat my calories than drink them.

⁃ There’s always room for chips, mangoes and puddings.

⁃ You can’t leave my house without eating.

⁃ I need something sweet after a meal. I blame my dad !!

oMy whole life revolves around food. I am not a health guru so please do not follow any of my advice!! And certainly feel free to roll your eyes and if you have to “tut”, please do remember we are all god’s children. But I’m not getting into the religion discussion here …

So being born into an Indian family was never going to be great start when it comes to watching your weight. It’s like starting with a really poor golf handicap!! Throw into that a mum who was one of the best cooks around. The house was never short of

⁃ aloo and mooli parathas,

⁃ aloo and puris,

⁃ pakoras,

⁃ chaat on special days,

⁃ home made kulfi ,

⁃ kheer

⁃ dosas when she had time

⁃ Mithai (Indian sweets); very partial to jalebis, gujrela and rasmalai (if you know you know).

Let alone the day to day roti and subji. We rarely ate non-Indian food. Why would you as a vegetarian? I think the first foray for us out of home was Pizza Hut, and yes the extra chillies were requested.

How cruel that as a result of my upbringing I am afflicted with a love of samosas -carbs wrapped in carbs, deep fried and served with imli (tamarind) chutney made with kilos of sugar!! I won’t even go into the world of chaat ( Street foods) that just oooze calories. Don’t please write in and tell me about the lower calorie oven baked option samosas that involve filo pastry. I promise to try these one day !!

I then learnt in recent years that mangoes are one of the highest sugar content buggers around 🤦🏽‍♀️. Someone up there surely has it in for me. So what difference has this information made to you Seema you may be wondering: none whatsoever. We’re talking about mangoes.💕💕

I always did sport at school- tennis/hockey/netball/volleyball and the obligatory country dancing!! So remaining active must have burnt all the calories I was taking in.I recall even during sixth form going through a phase of logging what I ate. I was hardly big, whatever that means, and even started running before school(for a very short time). So what was the issue at that age I wonder🤷🏽‍♀️.

I look at the photos post graduation from my 20s and realise that I often wore clothes that were too big for me. I was also totally addicted to step aerobics and spraining my ankles.

In my 30s I had Aarti and for a while lost my way . Until when she was about 2/3 a so called male friend asked whether I was pregnant. Total head fuck! (Excuse the bad language). Ok we’re now signed upto to do the moonwalk. I recall doing it with a gang of girls from Cole & Mason but Debbie Acquaye and I were the only two signed up for the full marathon. Is there something we don’t know? I was probably at my fittest during this period. I recall my knees crying with pain during the last two miles but we made it.

Aarti used to poke my tummy and announce with great pleasure “mummy your tummy is like play dough”. Do you have to like your children? 🙄. I started Tae Kwon Do with her and trained and graded for years. Art got her black belt but I fell behind because of injuries!! And never went back. Oh I miss those hours of training 😐.

In my 40s I think I was fit too. I had discovered running with Simon. I was determined to be in shape. I had my first frozen shoulder and operation. I remember crying when I was unable to run due to the excruciating pain.

In my 50s I’ve discovered yoga. I also had my second frozen shoulder but the yoga helped to give me strength back sooner than before. I just need to be a master of my time so yoga becomes part of my day. I have realised that I need more focus.

So clever dressing is a great trick but that won’t make you healthy. I wear bikinis but ensure I am thousands of miles away from anyone who knows me. And probably like most women have a selection of sizes in my wardrobe. I also know that when I’m down about my weight I avoid clothes shopping and have targeted shoes, bags and jewellery. That explains an awful lot.

All through my work life I can confidently state that weight was one of the main topics of conversations

⁃ diets of the day

⁃ Gurus of the day

⁃ Fashions that we love or not ; those that flatter not( remember leggings coming in and low waist jeans 😂

⁃ Ponchos – what to make me really look pregnant?

⁃ Crop tops – thank the Lord I have always been too old for this.

The rule is simply to do what you can and if you want something you have to push yourself..right? And how you feel is your right whatever size and shape you happen to be. No amount of lecturing will make you do what you are not ready to tackle.

I’ve been on very few diets – one was during the run up-to my wedding with Mr G. I did two months of no carbs. And the week before the wedding I ate a whole bag of samosas. I also did the Carol Vorderman detox once. It was quite easy as I was already a non smoking, non coffee drinking, vegetarian who rarely drank alcohol. Blimey I sound great fun 😂. Both these plans worked for me. The only other food related thing I have done is controlling my portions occasionally, which again is difficult with Indian food – dishes just fill the table and are never ending. I feel that I may be sounding just pure greedy now.

My exercise regime has been a total rollercoaster over the years. From nothing to total addict…and somewhere sensible in between. But I have noticed that age has been the greatest enemy to me. My two frozen shoulders and subsequent operations made me realise how important exercise was to me.

Enjoy those samosas, chips, mangoes and puddings but in moderation. God I sound like one of those gurus 🤦🏽‍♀️. I, who have no self restraint when it comes to food wish you well.

Whatever you decide … stay healthy! The more you exercise the more samosas you can eat or doesn’t it work like that? For years I thought my good eats would counteract my bad eats. 👍🏽 … wishful thinking 🤔

🙏🏽

Seema