Notes on one’s home in an estate

“Should the fish be fried or should it be a curry?”
My cook has a very tense expression. Beside her on the kitchen counter is a plate of fresh sardines.
My mother stands still, thinking.
“Curry”, she finally decides. ” We will have it with cassava in the evening.”
“No” Rosa protests. I wonder why she even bothers. I have not seen her eat Sardines whether it is fried or in a curry.
” Fried’, Maria seconds Rosa. Now Maria’s votes counts. She is particularly fussy about how her food looks and smells.

“Then what will we have for tea?” Amma asks pointing to a basket of cassava sitting on the kitchen floor.
” Banana fritters”, I cry.
” No! We always have banana fritters!”

My cook moves away from the plate of Sardines. Into another plate she adds chilly powder, coriander powder, salt and a pinch of turmeric. Ah! smart move. If the fish is going to be fried she is going to need that.
She then busies herself grating a coconut while mother and daughters fight over the menu for the evening tea.
She then divides the grated coconut into three parts. One part she grinds in a food processor with a little water. She then squeezes the coconut in the palm of her hand. She collects the think milk into a bowl and remaining coconut she grinds again with more water, squeezing the thinner milk into a separate bowl. If the fish is going to be cooked in a curry she is going to need the thick and thin coconut milk.

Our estate helper peeps in through the kitchen window to let my mother know that he has come in for work.
“We need some tender coconuts and a bunch of bananas”, my mother tells him.

Maria and I follow our estate helper and watch from the shade of a jack fruit tree as he hugs the coconut palm and climbs right up to the top. He drops a bunch of coconuts and then once he is back on the ground he shakes them separating the tender ones from the rest.
When he ventures further into the estate disappearing into the rubber trees in search of ripe bananas we pick up the tender coconuts and walk back to the kitchen.
Back in the kitchen our cook has mixed the second part of the grated coconut with grated carrot sauteing them together.

We spent the remainder of the morning reading until Amma  calls out to us for lunch. When I struggle out of my deep seated armchair, it’s like deja vu for me. Why wouldn’t be? Yesterday was the same as today, only a different kind of fish and a different book. Tomorrow will be the same, maybe no fish but definitively a different book.

This is what I love about coming home, the most critical decisions always involve the lunch menu and the most strenuous activity is saving laundry from the rain and there is always plenty of food.

Back at the lunch table neither Rosa nor Maria notice that the sardines are cooked in a curry.

Why non native speakers should teach English

TEFL – Teach English as a Foreign language is a great way to travel the world. All you need is a certificate and of course know English!

I jumped on the bandwagon. I signed up for the 120 hour online course and completed it in 5 days. Yohooo!! The world just opened many more doors …. or so I thought.

I checked on the TEFL job board and there were a 100 listings. So many schools in Georgia wanted English teachers; the police department in Equador wanted English teachers, there were listings for teachers in Paris too!

Here was the catch: They wanted holders of British, American, Australian, Canadian…. etc passports. Even people with a South African passport were considered native speakers of English!  I think somebody forgot to mention that India was colonized by the British too.

There was not much I could do other than come up with reasons as to why non native speakers of English should teach English. In my opinion the non native speakers would actually make better teachers. We know the struggles: The ‘i before e except after c’ rules are all too familiar with us. We know the pain of learning the hard way that tongue, mosque and argue although similar looking are hardly pronounced similarly.

We know that conduct could mean a couple of things. Don’t get me started on the may I and can I s. English is a confusing language with it’s millions of exceptions and grammar rules.

I was taught my a non native speaker of English and I think I did reasonably well.  So if you want to TEFL and unfortunately do not hold a ‘native speaker’s’ passport, make your argument heard.