Friday, May 14, 2010

The Chile Diary Chapter 16

The Native Returns

Friday, 9th April, 2010.....It’s a cold, cold day today. To me it’s winter even though the Chilean calendar says it’s still Autumn. A chill wind, started to blow last night and it was mucho frio. I had hoped for a sunny day as I have promised to put mehndi on Gabriella’s hand. The cold has got to my back and one spot on the right is acting up. I’m resting it out and hopefully I’ll be able to keep my side of the promise.

Gabriella is a pretty, young and vivacious waitress working at Manchester. She knows a bit of English so we talk whenever she has a moment to spare. Yesterday she learned that I was from India and got all excited about henna art. It seems her grandfather is Arabic and he has given her some henna. I’m neither sure about the quality of the powder nor about how to apply mehndi with a wooden pen. In India we use a cone, which makes it easier to make the intricate designs. I’ve asked her to make a paste with a bit of lemon juice and sugar. Eucalyptus oil or any other essential oil is out of the question for her. In all probability it won’t be available or then too expensive. But it all depends on my back.

Last night Tintin found a beautiful apartment to shift into. It is on 4 Norte, very central to the shopping areas and the spot where the office cab picks them up. The most important thing it is on the first level. Second it is bigger in area than the present one, which is also spacious, and it falls cheaper too. Since I won’t be here when they move into the new place, I plan on seeing it before I leave. Back home in India this would be no problem, but here one has to fix up an appointment with the property dealer first. And woe to you if you don’t keep the appointment! So now it rests with the dealer and landlord.

On Sunday we have an invitation from my friend Roxana. They’re having an asado (barbecue) at home and we have been invited too. I’m looking forward to that.

12 April, Monday, 2010....The morning dawned grey and cold but the sun has put his hat on and is out now. Our lunch was fun even though it wasn’t an asado. I suppose it would have been more fun if we knew the language. Jokes can be made and understood better if not translated into another lingo. There were only two people who knew English, Gabriel and Raphael. Later in the evening we were joined by Gonzalo who also knows English, but he walloped down his food and got into the Table-tennis fray. Still, it was enjoyable. Roxana is such a warm hostess and there was nothing left wanting in her hospitality.

The food was made by her and the menu was... Mango sour with hot, freshly baked queso-olive empanadas for starters, Baked chicken with pineapple in a cheesy sauce, Beef pot roast, whole fried potatoes, fresh salad, Chilean pan (bread) washed down with a choice of Wine, Sprite or Orange juice. Dessert consisted of three ice-creams. Lunch was served in the patio which opens onto the lawn. Great ambience too!

Post lunch saw the guys getting into table-tennis matches, as we, the girls watched and cheered. Roxana kept a steady supply of cold drinks and iced water coming to the table. Thus ended our luncheon on Sunday. Back at the apartment there was no joie de vivre with Tintin and Manu as both got into their usual phone, serials, movies mode; making any kind of conversation unwelcome. So I watched some TV, then got myself occupied with turkey (pavo) empanadas. This entailed cooking the turkey mince which becomes the filling for the empanadas. Then I folded and sealed the empanadas, wrapped them in plastic wrap and stored them in the fridge, to be fried as and when desired. We were to go back to the GH, but Manu went to bed so I decided to stay the night here. Good decision as I get the advantage of the net.

Tomorrow morning I make one last visit to Roxana’s place. She has so sweetly offered to colour my hair before I leave. Honestly, none of my Indian friends or relatives has even offered to do it even when I wasn’t able to go to the parlour due to my back problems. I feel so nice and blessed with her friendship. That’s it for now. Have to post a thank you card to Roxana.

This brings me to the end of my Chile Diary. I fly out on the 14th of April. I know I’ll miss this beautiful city, despite the constant fears of tremors and quakes that I experienced. I’ll miss saying “como estas?” and replying, “Estoy bien.”


Mehndi...........henna. It is applied in intricate designs on hands, arms, feet and even as tattoos these days. This is a custom application on many festivals and an important tradition of Indian weddings, where the bride's arms, feet and calves are covered with finely executed patterns.


  1. I don't know anything about Henna art, the only reference I have ever had to Henna is what my mother used on her hair, which gave it reddish highlights. Is this the same Henna or is it different? The food at the Asado sounds like it was very good indeed. I would love to try some of the different foods from different countries. I can get recipes off the net, but the preparation by someone who is familiar I am sure is different.

  2. Marlene the henna is the same. Over here too its used on the hair but it is mixed with a few other herbs etc, so it not only colours but conditions too. For the art it is mixed with different stuff.
    I'm sure we could exchange recipes. There's just one problem, I'm one of those "approximate" cooks who doesn't measure things to the last gram..:))

  3. I also am an approximate cook, the only thing I measure is when I am baking and even then that depends on what I am making. It would be fun to share recipes.

  4. Wonderful idea Marlene. I'll work out another blog for "approximate" cooks like us.