Of kids who read and say the darnedest things!

She’s been staring at the clock for a while now, willing it to go faster. Finally the hour arrives. The magical hour – when the parents have said she can do what she wants to do. She’s a well-behaved kid generally so she has waited patiently…

She gets up. All four feet and seven years of earnestness!

“Appa, you said they would go at 3 o’clock and I could read again. It’s three now and they haven’t gone.  So please can I go back to reading my book?” Phew!

Ever since learning to read – when she was about four – my older daughter Arch has had her nose buried in a book! I empathise completely, having been exactly the same myself but this statement annihilates us with embarrassment! The  “they” who haven’t gone yet happen to be my husband’s uncle and his family whom we’ve invited for lunch. Arch has been asked, politely, to please be sociable and not stick her nose in a book till they have left.

“When will that be?” is the only question she asks us – after all, lunches and other other such social occasions are only interruptions to the serious business of life – which is reading, of course!

“About three 0’clock,” answers the dad.

“So can I read after that?”

“Yes, but not a moment before!”

She’s kept her part of the bargain and sees no reason why the adults should not keep theirs!

Thankfully, the uncle and his family, while not readers themselves, are good sports and much laughter ensues… before the uncle insists she must go off to read! Obviously, he jumps to the top of the popularity charts in the eyes of the seven-year old!

Even today, if she doesn’t get her “time off” to read, Arch becomes what she used to call “thanthy” (cranky)!

Top of the pops of our America tour has been this absolutely divine white gazpacho that Bernadette served us at lunch in their beautiful home in Columbus – thank you Bernadette and Vashi!

Here it is:


  • 1/4 cup + 4 tsp slivered almonds
  • 2 large or 3 regular cucumbers – peeled, seeded and chunked
  • 3 slices white bread – crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 clove garlic – peeled
  • 6 spring onions / scallions (only the whites) – sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice – taste and add more if you like it tarter
  • 1/2 tsp salt – again adjust to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup green grapes – cut in half
  • 1/4 of one green chili (optional if you want a bit of heat)

Toast the almonds for 3-5 minutes till fragrant. Set aside.

Set aside 1 cup of the chopped cucumber for garnish.

Soak the bread in the water till soft – just a couple of minutes.

In a mixer, whizz together the bread, the rest of the cucumber, the garlic, half the spring onions, vinegar, lemon juice, the quarter cup of almonds, salt and oil till the cucumbers are completely blended.

To serve, ladle 1 cup of the soup into each bowl. Mound 1/4 cup of the reserved, chopped cucumber, 1 tbsp of the spring onions, 2 tbsp of grapes and 1 tsp of the almonds in the centre of each bowl on top of the soup and serve.

Makes four servings.

The slivered almonds take this soup to an altogether elevated plane of cuisine – and you’ll need it if you have a kid who’s liable to ask, as she watches the guest’s chair, “You said she could talk the hind legs off a chair. I’ve been watching and all the legs are still there!”