Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Chile Diary Chapter 15

Easter week and farewell parties


6th April, Tuesday, 2010......It’s been a while since I wrote anything....anything at all. Almost the entire Easter week went away in suspense. I was to leave Chile on the 3rd, as I have mentioned in one of my previous entries. Till Thursday evening we were still not very sure about my ticket. Then finally we were told that it couldn’t happen and now I’m looking at this weekend, probably Saturday, as my day of departure. So I wasn’t in the mood to recount much. Wednesday saw Manu and I doing a bit of shopping. Nothing much and I could hardly walk or stand. It wasn’t a very pleasant spree for me. We visited just one shop so that speaks for itself.


Thursday Tintin had an off, half of which he spent seeing to some of his pending work. Then in the afternoon we went to Lider to buy some things like essences and peppers, which I wanted to take back with me. From here we went to the mall across the street called Marina Arauco, checked out a few things I liked, then went to Ruby Tuesday for lunch. Fortunately they have Wi-Fi so I could check my mail too. I had a sumptuous meal starting with Thai Phoon Camarones (breaded shrimps, Thai style) followed with a Loaded Potato and fresh salad. A fresh strawberry-lemonade washed it down. While we were here there was a tremor (5+) but I didn’t feel a thing. I was blissfully oblivious of everything except the laptop and my blog and writing site. Actually I was feeling quite happy and calm, so I suppose it numbed my senses.



From here we retraced our way back to where I had found a couple of things I wanted to buy, picked them up and returned home. I enjoyed this day thoroughly. A farewell dinner had been planned by Tintin and Manu so they had invited Roxana and her family too for dinner. I rested at the guesthouse, in order to be better inclined physically and mentally to handle the evening.



Ranjit had left the choice of the restaurant to Roxana and she led us all the way to Valparaiso. A few yards from Pablo Neruda’s house stands a sea-food restaurant called Oda Pacifico, and this was our destination. I was disappointed by what I saw, and so were Manu and Tintin. It was a nondescript building, poor facade, and resembled one of the humble dwellings around it. (Valparaiso is made up of an economically weaker section of society)

“Yeh toh dhaba hai,” I whispered to Manu.

“I know,” she whispered back.



We would call it a dhaba in India. A dhaba is a wayside eating place. It’s simple and very basic. Usually these places are set up along highways and are frequented by travellers and truck drivers. Many dhabas have earned a name and permanent customers because of their excellent food. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that this was her best, but gave her the benefit by telling myself that probably the food was out-of-the-world kind.



The Manager welcomed us and led us through the pub at the front, passed the kitchen and pantry and what we found at the end of this tour took our breath away. There before us spread out in all its splendour was a restaurant with a splendid view of the city and port below. Awesome! Everything then on was fabulous. We thanked my friend profusely for her excellent choice. The food by Chilean standards was indeed great. But dessert outdid every ‘dulce’ experience we’d had till then. It was 1.00 am by the time we got home. Thursday was a resounding success and one of the rare days I have enjoyed so much in Vina.



Good Friday dawned bright and clear. Manu and Tintin were up unusually early......Oh no, the religious day had nothing to do with it; luncheon at home was the reason. I had invited Rekha and her family for lunch. Rekha and her husband were visiting their son who is a big boss in the company Ranjit works for. Since both Tintin and Manu declined my offer of help, in any form, I was left to my own devices, which weren’t many. But being me and finding ample number of bananas, enough sugar and vanilla at my disposal in the 3 Poniente dwelling, I got cracking.



My earlier plan, as conveyed to Tintin had been Caramel-bananas served with vanilla ice-cream. But he vetoed my culinary offering and announced that vanilla ice-creams weren’t available here. I didn’t believe him you know; how can a country that grows vanilla not have an ice-cream of the same flavour! But truth turns out stranger at times and I made the dessert despite all Tintin’s admonishing and well, he found vanilla ice-cream. I even pushed myself between the two cooks (Manu & Tintin) and made my famous sour-sweet green chillie dish! (khatti-meethi hari mirch)



Lunch again was finger-licking delicious with the superb butter-chicken Tintin makes, mixed vegetable, dal fry, khatti-meethi hari mirch, pudina chutney, raita, fried rice, chapattis followed by dessert. Palates were titillated enough by the delicious aromas, to work up ravenous appetites and we had great conversations too. Another very pleasant day went by. Saturday was an easy day. We ate Friday’s dinner for lunch, and still had quite a lot left over. At the food court where we had papa fritters for dinner, we found a willing party for Friday’s leftovers; A few Indian youngsters, who work at the same place as Tintin. Boy! Were we relieved!



Easter morning found me up early, fresh and keen to go out in the day, perhaps to visit one of the churches and say a prayer. It didn’t happen. We stayed in, and I nibbled on some marzipans, jujubs and Easter eggs made of chocolate...dark and white. In the evening I bamboozled Tintin to take me to the beach so I could at least say I’d been on the beach. Can you beat it, the beach has been lying there, five minutes from my door, since the day I came to the guesthouse on 3 Poniente 10 Norte, and I hadn’t even been there to gaze at it. Anyway, we clicked some pictures, peeked into the feria stalls, ate some cotton-candy; I got more on my face and hair and clothes than in my mouth. I washed it off with soda...yes ‘agua con gas’ as plain water isn’t available on the beach. We even bought a mathi like object, which did taste like a sweet mathi. It is called ‘palmyras’ and is made of refined flour, and rolled out into seven-inch roundels and fried. Then it is sweetened with palm syrup.



It was time for dinner and we drove around looking for parking space near the restaurant. We finally found a spot and it just happened to be in front of a showroom that was still open for business. Shopping is therapeutic and can always lift one’s spirit, if the shopping’s for you. And so it was. The showroom was selling Patagonia Argentina woollens. Talk about a good day...this was it. I’m sure I was tired when I walked in but quite the uplifted one when I walked out. Our dinner at Delicias Del Mar added the cherry. Now we were absolutely ready for home, as Monday loomed large after the long weekend.



Glossary

Dulce.............sweet

Dal...............lentil made with spices and a typical (spluttering)seasoning

Khatti-meethi...........sour-sweet

hari mirchi.............green chillie

Raita.................yogurt mixed with anything one chooses to add.....could be cucumber, boiled potatoes or just onions and tomatoes, even fruit. With a sprinkle of salt and some Indian seasoning.

Mathi............a crisp fried savory. Sweet ones are made on particular festivals.

Chappati.........Tortilla kind of flat bread, made of whole wheat flour.

Pudina chutney........fresh mint ground into a chutney.


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2 comments:

  1. It sounds like your last few days in Chile have been a success! I am so glad you had those days. The food sounds amazing. The Chappati sounds good as breads of any kind are my passion. The ‘palmyras sound similar to what we call "Elephant Ears" which are large rounds of yeast dough that have been deep fried and you have your choice of toppings from sprinkled sugar, honey, jam, etc.

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  2. Yes Marlene, I have wonderful memories of Vina and its people. My stay was peppered with memorable events, lovely people.
    It's interesting to see how many foods the world over are almost similar. I like the name.."Elephant Ears".

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