Fathima, Fahim’s sister who lives in Dubai, called and said she was coming to Sri Lanka and she’d be landing today at 9. Fahim thinks that’s 9 in the morning, but he’s not too positive.
Fathima had told us both that she was thinking of coming to Sri Lanka, but no firm plans had been made, so while it wasn’t a surprise, we didn’t know that we should be expecting her.
She reads my blog, so she knows all about mine and Fahim’s life here, and we’ve emailed a few times, but this’ll be the first time I’ve met her.
I figured I’d be friendly just now and say Hi!
She’s also the first in-law I’ll meet. Should I tremble in fear? 😉
I use the word meet because, even though I’ve seen Fahim’s parents, we didn’t really meet. His mother saw me long enough to run from the room crying, and his father saw me long enough to yell at us to get out of the house. Okay, I can understand where they’re coming from from my limited perspective, but that’s not the issue today. The issue is that that isn’t really meeting them. They don’t even know my name as far as I know. I spoke no words to them. That’s not a meeting. That’s a visual presentation.
So Fathima is the first in-law I’ll meet.
Fathima also indicated that she’d be staying here overnight, so Fahim and I had to do some shopping to get a few things.
Explanation.We’ve been holding off on buying household stuff because
- I’m still expecting my stuff, which includes things like a real bed, North American style; sheets; towels; dishes; and things like that. So why buy more when we won’t need them?
- We don’t know yet the firm price of how much shipping will cost us. Yes, we have a quote, but who knows what surprises may crop up?
- Fahim’s a tightwad. Which, for the most part, I wholly agree with and support. Except when I want toys and he says no. Then I whine and pout.
So we’ve been making do with the barest minimum amount of stuff. And it’s been working well for us.
But if we’re going to have an overnight guest, well, we’ve got to expand on certain things. Like having more than two plates or two forks. You know, basic stuff like that.
And now we sound really pathetic, don’t we? Ah, well, the things you don’t notice when you’re still in a sort of honeymoon phase. And that’s a whole other topic which we won’t discuss here except to say that both Fahim and I are, at times, far too practical for our own good. Hmm. I don’t know if that made it worse or better.
We went to Arpico first, the department store, and picked up a few things. We knew we were buying a bigger foam mattress – the existing one is a little on the tiny side for two adults, and one or the other of us ends up being pushed against the mosquito net and getting an arm almost bitten off in the middle of the night. So we knew we were getting a bigger bed, so we also had to get bigger sheets. No blue available, so on to purple. Could be worse. Could be orange. Purple I can live with.
We also bought some spices – you know, things like cloves, nutmeg, cumin, coriander. And flour.
I’m allergic to wheat, and while it doesn’t do anything nasty to me in the short term, it does nasty things in the long term, and I’m really trying to minimize how much of it I consume. I came across a bunch of recipes that called for alternative flours – rice flour, potato starch flour, tapioca flour – to be used in the place of wheat flour. The only complicated part of all this is that wheat has gluten, the others don’t, so short of adding gluten, which I don’t want to do anyway, how much will a recipe be changed by using other flours instead?
I really have no idea, but it’s time for me to find out. We buy 1 kg of wheat flour, 1 kg of polished roasted white rice flour, and gram flour. Fahim points out to me that this isn’t green gram flour, or mung bean flour, but gram flour, and he doesn’t know what that is in English. I find out later that it’s probably chick pea flour, also known as garbanzo beans. Okay, that can work for me. So we get them. There are a few other kinds of flours there that we have no idea what they are. Atta flour we figured out is whole wheat flour. Don’t want that. There’s also red rice flour and seriously, a bunch more. This is good for me for a start. He thinks I should get smaller bags until I point out to him that I live here now and I have to figure this out, so it’ll get used, don’t sweat it. He backs down immediately.
I figure to start with, I’ll mix equal parts of white wheat, rice, and gram, see how it works, and take it from there.
We also get some Kiri DODOL. To me, it looks like muscat, and I comment on this to Fahim. He vehemently insists it’s not the same, not even close. Okaaaay. Chill. It’s in the same rectangular log, it’s got a similar looking appearance, and a similar label on the front. But . . . Whatever.
It’s ingerdients are listed as: Flour, Sugar, Rice Flour, Coconut Milk, Cashew Nut, Cardamom, Pure Coconut Oil. Nothing there to mock for spelling except for ingerdient, and I’ve mocked that previously.
So tell me, dear reader, your opinion on this. Compare this picture of Kiri DODOL to the picture of MUSCAT and vote here. Do they look the same? Or do they look totally different?
Please see 29 September 2003 for the blog entry where I discuss Fruit MUSCAT and have a picture of that there. For comparison purposes only, mind you.
Oh, and after the whole Arpico thing, we head to Lionco. Or perhaps that’s Lyonco? I don’t know, and honestly, how much do I really care? Hmm. Yeah, about that much, she says, squinting.
So. On to Lionco. That’s where we bought our original foam mattress, 4’x6′. That’s where we went this time, too. They have foam mattresses stacked up against one wall, then on the other wall and spilling onto the floor below, there are dishes, dishes, and more dishes. Damn, but I wish I’d brought the camera. Fahim and I already know what we want, so we walk in, Fahim tells her, and the assistant takes it out and with the help of our trishaw driver, Mervin, they tie it to the roof of the trishaw.
Interruption: it wasn’t raining. If it was, we wouldn’t have been shopping.
So while the saleslady does up the invoice and Fahim pays for it, they chat in Sinhalese. Out of the blue, I hear a word as she looks at me. “Japan?” I don’t know if she’s referring to the country or if there’s another Sinhalese word that sounds the same but means something else entirely. So I give her a blank stare. Fahim explains to her that no, I’m not Japanese (????? And where the heck did that come from? Do I look Asian? I mean, seriously, DO I LOOK ASIAN? EVEN SLIGHTLY?) but Canadian. They talk on and on and on while we get bitten by mosquitoes. By this time, it’s around 6 or 6:30 and that means feeding time in the mosquito kingdom. Finally, we leave, and Fahim tells me that she told him that he should teach me Sinhalese so I didn’t get left out of conversations like that.
Well, yeah, I do need to learn Sinhalese. I’ve been here a whole 2 1/2 months and I’ve done nothing – well, next to nothing – to advance myself in that direction. To shame, to shame.
We get home – and, by the way, Fahim had to hang on to the mattress to make sure it didn’t fall off – and take our stuff inside. We have bags and bags plus a mattress. After we get it all in, I take a look around and realize that I don’t see the sheets anywhere. They weren’t packed in a shopping bag because they were already in a protective bag, and I simply laid them down flat in the back of the trishaw and put the rest of the bags on top. I tell this to Fahim, and Fahim calls Mervin. Fahim is fine with us getting the sheets whenever is convenient for Mervin – the next day or so is fine, but no, Mervin brings them over immediately.
We now have bright purple sheets on our new 5’x6′ bed. And for another note, that’s the largest foam mattress you can get here without going custom. Fahim was thinking of getting a 6’x7′ mattress – his toes hang off the end, and so do mine, even though I’m short. It must be the big feet I have. But going to that size would have meant double the money, so that got ixnayed.