If Real Life Was Like Facebook

Wouldn’t it be the coolest thing ever if real life was like Facebook? As in, people could only see you from a certain angle – your best – the one from which 98% of your pics are taken (we all know the other 2% were snapped by friends who didn’t know you had an angle rule and when it ended up on your timeline you felt too petty to untag yourself). That would be so awesome because everybody knows good-looking better get better jobs, have happier relationships and live more productive lives. You would SO get head-hunted, like, immediately, and meet Mr Right tomorrow.

And not only that. Imagine when people’s voices were making you bored, you could just choose a drop-box and remove them from your Timeline. One minute your boss is droning on about emerging markets, the next, there’s just an empty chair in the boardroom. Gone until further notice, buddy! And best you up your game, or I’ll never listen to your boring voice again. Or, better still, you could replace him with people you find interesting. Like your best girlfriends and that cute guy you picked up at Caprice and friended over the weekend. Suddenly, Monday’s strategy meeting just got way more fun.

If you could organize your office like you do your facebook community, you’d always be surrounded by people in sexy shoes holding cocktails, and your view of the back of the photocopier would immediately transform into a vista of Lion’s Head at sunset or a wintry beach or an adorable puppy. Bit sleepy from staying up to watch Scandinavian TV series all night? No problem: type your manager’s name in the ‘custom’ button under your status update and everybody but her will be able to see you’ve curled up under your desk for a nice little nap. And if the sarmie you made last night starts looking a bit sad, you could just instagram it. With the right filter you can make anything look gourmet.

Immediately, in your Facebook World, everything dull and miserable would cease to exist and your days would become endless forays into the winelands, meals with truffle foam and being surrounded by all your friends all the time as you smiled your way happily through life. What’s more, people would have to mind their ‘p’s and ‘q’s or your just wouldn’t ‘like’ them. And everyone knows how crap it is not getting any ‘likes.’ You’ll never have to break up with anybody because you can just press ‘unfriend.’ What’s more, if you report them to the Facebook Police they’ll never be allowed to talk to you ever again. No more end-of-relationship post-mortems – hurrah! By the same token, if you were tired of being single, you could just change your relationship status. Want to be engaged to Caprice boy? Done!

So, there’d be a button for when people bug you; a little air emoticon to warn folks when you’re crabby, and if you were feeling lazy you could just share somebody else’s clever, original post. Wouldn’t that be cool? To your boss: ‘what do I think? Didn’t you see my SHARE? Duh.’ Mark Zuckerberg is a genius, no doubt about that – I’m sure he’ll be up for the challenge.

Letter to Myself at Age 10

window hearts

Dear Susan

Your nose is not as big as you think. While you’ll never be wild about the sight of yourself in profile, you’ll grow into your face and even learn to like it a little, hard as this may be to believe. The next 30 years are going to go quickly, and you’ll look back and be amazed that you could get this old. But don’t fear the passing of time. Life gets easier the longer you’re around, even though you don’t learn as much as you’d expect. This is because, as you grow up, things somehow become more vague; less black-and-white as you begin to grasp the contingency of life, and the fact that most things are actually beyond our control. But with this uncertainty comes a kind of humility which often makes us nicer human beings.

Your parents are raising you to have a healthy disdain for authority. While that is a good thing in principal, your rebellious nature is going to get you into trouble, and you need to learn when it’s time to shut up. Not everybody wants to hear your opinion, and as much as you pretend not to care, the harsh words directed at you will end up hurting you deeply. So, try to be less outspoken and a little more cooperative. In a few years time you’re going to start neglecting your school work and your gymnastics and your dancing in favour of chasing boys. This is a really stupid thing to do. Unfortunately, it will take you many years and a lot of wasted energy to figure this out for yourself.

When you’re 40 you’re going to make jokes about not understanding numbers, but actually having a grounding in maths is pretty important. I know you find it difficult, so work harder at it. There’s going to come a time you’re not going to know how to work out a percentage, and it’s going to be embarassing. Stop taking the easy way out. And stop being so frightened all the time. You’re clever, and you’re going to make good choices. As much as you want this right now, you’re not going to live in Hollywood and be famous or rich. But you’ll do work that you love and your talents will be rewarded and that counts for a whole lot more.

You’re going to have your heart broken, and you’re going to suffer a little. Okay, a lot. You’re also going to break some hearts along the way, though through the inherent self-centredness of human beings, you won’t be aware till much later of the impact you’ve had on some people. Be kind to the ones who love you. They deserve it. High School really is the school of hard knocks. Those cool people who won’t let you be in their crowd and make you feel ugly and unworthy? Let me tell you a secret: they didn’t amount to anything. Their lives are small places, and things didn’t turn out so well for them in the end. So, stop going home after school and crying on your bed. They aren’t worth your tears.

Things are going to go good for you, so try to relax a little. Think carefully about every decision you make because they really do count in the end. Life is long movie with a short storyline, and you don’t want to be left high and dry. And don’t, for the love of god, go to that hairdresser in Somerset West and ask for a Lady Di haircut. Someone should have pointed out to you that she didn’t wake up in the morning with all those glorious flicks, and it’s going to take you a lot of years to grow out that particular mistake. You’ve got good hair; don’t mess with it.

Yours lovingly,
Susan

The most surprising thing about starting a blog

I kind of knew I was going to love blogging. After decades of writing for very specific markets and always having to ask myself whether a Cosmo girl would identify with what I wanted to say, or if I was being too ‘out there’ for the Clicks Club subscribers, or if a word I wanted to use would be understood by a younger audience, the sheer, unfettered joy of sitting down at my keyboard and thrashing out whatever thoughts I care to share using whatever words I choose to share them in is one of the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced. Creating without constraint is a heady feeling indeed.

But it also scared me, the notion of putting myself and my life out there in the no-holds-barred way I’m partial to. What would people say? What would they think? What if they hated my writing and told me so? Because, while I have a pretty big mouth I have a dangerously thin skin. Not an ideal combination. But for some reason I was compelled to head off into this very unknown terrain where anybody who cares enough can read your innermost thoughts, and enter the most private of private spheres – your head.

And I’m not brave. I might sound confident and courageous when I publish a post which is either deeply personal or a bit controversial (I mean, what white South African has the audacity to call themselves black?), but in reality I’m shitting myself and my stomach churns with every new comment I see awaiting approval. Because, maybe even more than other people, I’m terrified of not being liked.

And then an interesting thing happened which kind of changed the way I view the world. Everybody has been nice. Okay, not everybody. Of the nearly 10 000 individuals who have visited and viewed my blog since its launch three weeks ago, one person wrote me a cross letter. Which I pretty much deserved since I kind of tore their blog to pieces (it was my ‘Letter to a Hipster Blogger’. We live and learn). But that girl aside (and you know, dude, I’m sorry. I was totally showing off) everybody has been so freaking amazing. And supportive, and encouraging and share-y.

The love has poured out from all corners of the globe. I had a woman in Texas tell me her story about mothering; a few guys thanking me profusely for the piece about marriage (‘How Marriage Sometimes Feels Really, Really Crap‘); a French chef start a conversation about food . I’ve had a really insightful chat about flaming with a Huffington Post blogger (who is actually following my blog – how cool?); letters from people in China and Holland and Moscow and Tanzania. And the theme is always the same – of our sameness and shared experience of the world.

And it’s gone both ways – through blogging I’ve found blogs which I’ve come to know and love. At the moment I’m following the heart-wrenching day-to-day experience of a 26-year-old woman in the UK whose husband has just left her for another woman. Her writing is raw, gutsy and painful and, by virtue of being almost 20 years her senior and having learnt some stuff along the way, I’m able to see her situation in perspective and offer her the kind of loving, supportive advice older friends gave me when I was her age and equally lost.

It’s been an extraordinary experience this, and it’s revived my faith in humanity. Even when I knew a segment of people would disagree strongly with something I wrote or be offended by my penchant for colourful language, they allowed me the space to state my case in the way I saw fit, and I’m humbled and amazed. Loving what you’re doing and waking up to 50 e-mails from people telling you they’re also loving what you’re doing is the coolest thing I’ve ever known. To everyone reading this, thank you.

Instant Prozac

I got this e-mail yesterday, and while it’s certainly been fiddled with – it’s just too good to be true – anyone who has read instructions on a product brought in from China will accept that it’s probably not that far off, either. I had a good laugh, and thought it was too funny not to share.

“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious. She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. Obviously, it has been translated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English…

Getting There:

Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The hotel:

This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.

The Restaurant:

Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.

Your Room:

Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! . You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.

Bed

Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.

Above all: When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.”

Rather Sexy Ratatouille

Good for empty fridge days.
Perfect for empty fridge days.

This is one of those oh-crap-there’s-nothing-in-the-house dishes that we make a couple of times a month using all the leftover veggies and a tin or two of tomatoes. It’s fresh, delish and, as you can tell by the beautiful colours, full of antioxidants. The thing about a ratatouille is that veggies, by themselves, don’t taste of a hell of a lot so you need to sexy them up. The best way of doing this is by adding things that have lots of flavour like garlic, olives, capers and herbs. Per and the girls like to eat theirs over pasta, but I prefer mine just as it comes or with a few shavings of parmesan cheese if we happen to have any lurking.

Ingredients:
Onion
Garlic
Aubergine
Red or green peppers
A tin of tomatoes (I only buy tinned cherry tomatoes lately. They just taste better)
Fresh tomatoes
Courgettes
Capers
Olives
Herbs like oreganum, basil and thyme (dried or fresh)
Olive oil
Red wine or balsamic vinegar

Method:
Fry your aubergine, onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the herbs – dried oreganum works really well on aubergine. When the aubergine is a little bit brown, add chopped courgettes, peppers, olives, fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, half a cup of water and about two tablespoons of vinegar. Put the lid on and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. Give it a taste – if it’s acidic (tomatoes vary) add a tablespoon of sugar. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy with pasta, ciabatta or just on its own. Yum, and seriously healthy.

On bite plates and mystery bills.

The tiny piece of plastic that just cost a bajillion rand.
The tiny piece of plastic that just cost a bajillion rand.

Don’t you hate those little mystery amounts that get added to the end of bills? No explanation, just a sum seemingly unrelated to anything. Which must be paid immediately, yesterday, or else you’ll be in trouble. So rude and, frankly, bogus. Telkom is partial to them, as are the Water and Lights people and banks loooove them. Even though I do all my banking online, ostensibly to save the bank tellers the trouble of looking at my face, they’ll still have the temerity to take R123,13 off my account at the end of the month for ‘bank charges.’ What am I paying for, here, and where do they even get that 13 cents?

I got one of those yesterday from my dentist which made me super annoyed. Apparently I clench my jaw at night (with bills like that, who can blame me?), and my teeth are taking strain, so I now have to wear a little plastic guard thing in my mouth when I go to bed. As if the other indignities you suffer in your forties aren’t enough. So, I get the impression made, it gets sent off to a lab somewhere and I pay the bill of R1326,36 which includes a R162,27 fee for transporting said miniscule piece of plastic from somewhere in the northern suburbs to my dentist in town (R162,27? Maybe they should think about replacing the Hummer Limo they’re clearly using to make their deliveries for a van. Just a suggestion).

But then yesterday, out of the blue, I get sent this statement for the amount of R721,27. Wth?! So, I call up the dentist’s receptionist and this is how the conversation goes:

Me: Hi there, it’s Susan Hayden (blah blah tells story), and I don’t understand this bill because I’ve already paid for everything.

Glynis: Okay, just hold on a second while I find your details.

Music: Chariots of Fire played on what sounds like a child’s electronic keyboard.

Glynis: Okay, here we are. The amount on your statement is for infection control.

Me: But, I didn’t have infection control. I just picked up my little plastic mouth thing.

Glynis: Oh. Okay, just hold on.

Chariots of Fire – this time for so long I’ve read everyone’s status updates by the time she comes back on the line.

Glynis: Hi Susan, sorry to keep you waiting, but I chatted to the big boss (she really said that) and it’s code HZR-6. You see, we can’t charge
you for that until you’ve picked up your bite plate.

Me: Code what? What does that mean?

Glynis: Well, the code for the lab is HFR-6, and the code for the dentist is HZR- 6.

Me: Oh.

Glynis: So, I’m very sorry about that. It’s payable immediately.

Me: Oh, okay. But I just… picked up my thing.

Glynis: Ja, I’m sorry.

Me: Oh, okay. Well, bye then

Glynis: bye.

So, fuck getting my hair highlighted this month – that’s gone out the window. But it did lead me to come up with a plan. I’m also going to make up some codes for myself. It’s a very clever system, because clearly people have no idea what to do with codes. I don’t. Next time I send out an invoice for an article, I’m going to include a code at the bottom and an extra fee for something like R554,12. The code will be DPC-5, and what it will stand for (though they’ll never know because it’s secret) is Disco Pants Chair (because I sat on a chair when I wrote the article and drank 5 cups of coffee to keep me awake). Why should they be the only ones who can be mysterious and make you pay for stuff you don’t understand? Fuck them.

And if the accounts department have a query, I’ll just put them on hold and play Sophie’s recorder while I pretend to look for their details and talk to the ‘big boss.’ Then I’ll come back on the phone and cite some codes, along with a few others to make them really confused. I’ll do this each time I get some erroneous bill, and with every invoice I send the codes will get longer and more complicated. Because I also like shopping at Woolworths, and at this rate I’m not even going to be able to afford the Juicy Red. Frankly, I’m feeling like a genius.

On marriage, and how it sometimes feels really, really crap

A very real marriage in summer.
A very real marriage in summer.

There’s a lot of bollocks we’re taught about relationships, but to my mind the cruelest assumption we’re allowed to nurture is that when you’re married things are nearly always going to go great. Yes, there’ll be arguments about who sees whose friends more and which of you didn’t unpack the dishwasher, and maybe even fights about bigger, more important stuff like money and religion, but nothing that won’t blow over within a few hours or, at worst, a few days. And the danger in not telling couples the truth – that, when the bad times come, they don’t always go away quickly; sometimes, they settle in and hang around for quite a while – is that people panic. They didn’t expect this. Why is it so hard? We ask ourselves. It shouldn’t feel like this. Did I marry the wrong person? Maybe we shouldn’t be together?

If only we got warned early on, we wouldn’t feel quite so bewildered when the day comes that you sit across a dinner table from your partner and the distance between you is so immense you’d need an aeroplane to traverse it. You look over at each other over dinner plates and you simply have nothing to say. You see these couples in restaurants all the time – scanning the menu after they’ve ordered; looking up at the ceiling. Because somehow amidst the maelstrom of life and the pressures of raising children, earning money, owning a house, going on holiday, getting to gym, paying parking fines, buying the groceries and doing what needs to be done to survive, you can lose one another. And, with that, the map to find your way back.

An older, wiser divorcee I worked with when I was in my twenties once said to me, ‘there’s nothing quite as lonely as the loneliness you can feel in a relationship,’ and I had no reference at the time, but later I remembered her words and understood exactly what she meant. But, here’s the rub. Barring serious problems where there is no other solution but to part company, if you can muster the courage, the mettle and the good, old-fashioned self-discipline not to bring up the ‘d’ word too often; not to succumb to easy ways out (they’re not easy in reality) and the next hopeful singleton who promises to ‘understand’ you – if you can just take a deep breath and wait this shitty time out – and it can go on foreeeeeever – I promise you with all my heart that the love almost always comes back again, better than it was before.

I’m not saying things can’t get beyond the point of no return, or that there aren’t people who try really hard not to separate and for whom parting ways is the absolute last resort, but I encounter too many who make this move without understanding the ramifications and how painful and devastating this process really is. The end of a marriage isn’t the end of the world, but you have to earn your way out of the relationship, especially when there are children involved. You are allowed to make this move only when there is no other conceivable solution. Because marriage is not going to make you happy; it’s just going to make you married. The happy thing is your responsibility, and all about how much you’re prepared to work at stuff and stick around when times get rough. As they will, without a shadow of a doubt.

Marriages have seasons, and sometimes winter stretches on. But time will pass, things will change, and stuff will happen that will bring you closer to where you were before. And, often without even trying, one day you’ll find yourselves sitting across from each other at that same table with loads of things to say. And your bond will be better and you’ll feel safer and more solid than you ever have because you survived, and you’re a team and in the end it’s the two of you against the world. It’s not better on the other side. It’s a battle of a different kind; plus you have the added complications of blended families, less money, pissed off exes and other peoples’ children. Suffice to say, that grass might look a bit different, but it aint any greener. There are enough divorced people around to testify to this. Just ask them how they’re doing.

That guy you hate with such venom at 9am on an arb Saturday morning that you’d happily put an axe in his head before going out for brunch with your friends? There was a time you wanted him so badly you could barely breathe. That feeling was real, and it hasn’t gone away, it’s just got gotten a buried beneath the crap of everyday life. Wait this period out because, more often than not, what comes at the end of it will be richer and more rewarding than you imagine now. Plus, it’s the best gift you can ever give your children. Ever. Trust me on this. Hanging in there is the better option.

Les Lentilles (yes, you guessed it – this dish is awfully very French)

Really, really good for wintry weather
Really, really good for wintry weather. Even if you only live in Cape Town.

Even though I don’t speak a word of the language (that’s not true, I know ‘les’) and I’ve only been to France once in my life for five minutes, I just know, deep down, that I’m French. Sometimes I’m also Italian, but mainly I’m more French. I get them, those people, with their fabulous dishes of cream and bone marrow and not caring when their husbands have affairs. Well, that part I don’t really get, but the rest I totally do.

My amazing friend Paul who owns Nomu came up with this recipe using fancy puy lentils and fish, but since I wouldn’t know a puy lentil if it had a tantrum on my head, I just use those brown ones you buy at Pick ‘n Pay. And because there wasn’t any fresh fish in my fridge that day or ever, I also substituted that for chorizo because I saw that someone once used that in another lentil dish. But the rest is totally, completely sort of Paul’s recipe.

When I make this dish it’s almost like I become Edith Piaf singing about having no regrets. You kind of want to put on a boa and swan about with a cigarette holder and say things that shock your children. But then you remember you’re actually just a mom cooking Thursday night supper, so you have to settle down and be content with a glass of red. And anyway, once I cooked in a boa and the feathers got in everything. This dish is easy, seriously tasty and quite stylish, actually. You wouldn’t be amiss serving it to guests with a nice ciabatta and a bottle of something dusky. Here’s how to access your inner grande dame:

Ingredients:

Brown lentils (they might be called green, but they are most definitely brown)
An onion (the red ones are bit sweeter, I find)
A clove of garlic (okay, three)
A carrot
Celery
Chorizo
Vegetable stock
Dried or fresh tarragon and whatever other herbs you have bumming around. Oreganum and thyme work nicely.
A bay leaf or two

Method:

Chop your onion, garlic, carrots and celery as finely as you can be bothered and fry them in a bit of olive oil. When the onion goes see-through, add your chopped chorizo and fry it up a bit. Add two cups of lentils, four cups of water, your veggie stock cube or powder, your bay leaf and your chopped up herbs. Put the lid on and let it simmer gently. Keep checking that you have enough water in your pot. If it gets too dry, add more. When the lentils are almost done (they should have a bit of a bite), take the lid off and let the rest of the water cook away. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Serve it in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil. SO very yum-ois.

War of the Rice and Other Stupid Things Married People Fight About

My husband is a good cook and I’ve learnt a few tricks from Jamie Oliver over the years, and if we were on TV this would translate to a happy, busy kitchen where he and I wear matching aprons and amazing dishes get churned out like on a little cartoon conveyor belt. Except, the fact that we are married and this is real life means that it’s not quite the case. What we learnt early on in our relationship (as in, the first time we ever cooked dinner together) is that as we both have strong opinions on how things should be done, it’s better for everyone if, at any given time, there is one designated chef, while the other one stays the hell out of the kitchen. Or, at least maintains a safe and respectful distance. And, if one has an opinion on what’s going on in the other one’s pan they do not, under any circumstances, offer it. And we stick to this agreement, and therefore stay married.

But sometimes something happens which throws a spanner in the works of our domestic solution, and that thing is being in someone else’s house who has asked us, as a couple, to perform some sort of culinary task. In this particular instance, that task was to cook the rice which was to accompany a very delicious lamb potjie. Now rice, of all things, should be child’s play, and is – except for the fact that my husband insists on cooking it this really weird way. He boils it and then turns off the heat with the notion that it will stay hot long enough to absorb the remaining water and be perfect when served. Which is great in theory, but anyone who knows anything KNOWS that rice is to be cooked gently on a low heat till all the water is gone. Because that’s the way my mom did it and therefore it must be right.

So, I break the golden rule and point this out to him because our friends have spent the whole day cooking this nice dish and now it’s going to be ruined by silly rice. When it becomes obvious that our little disagreement is not going to reach resolution anytime soon, I elicit the help of the other guests to explain to him the error of his ways. Unfortunately, the person standing closest happens to be another guy and, in accordance with Guy Law, there is no way this dude – while he agrees with me TOTALLY, I can see it in his eyes – is going to backstab another dude and let me, the chick, win.

So, the guy pretends to agree with him which naturally makes my husband very pleased. And though I try to pull my girlfriends into our little tiff, they’re being all diplomatic and not wanting to take sides. So, I take it upon myself, when nobody is looking, to turn the rice back on and try and salvage his swampy carb. Unfortunately, by this stage I have put away a good portion of Shiraz and when my girlfriends start sharing rude stories about their sex lives, I kind of get distracted and forget I’ve turned the gas on high. Nothing terrible happens – I don’t destroy the kitchen or anything – but the bottom of the pot is a little black by the time I stop shrieking and notice something is burning. Which kind of messes up my smug sense of righteousness.

ANYHOW, the food was all delicious and even if it hadn’t been, nobody would have noticed because we were laughing so hard and having so much fun that night, and I felt a bit silly the next day for going on and on about it. It’s weird how combative you can get when you’re married and how being right can become the most important thing. I wish I could say I’d learnt a lesson, and that the next time I don’t agree with something trivial he does – like cook rice the wrong way – I’ll shut the hell up and mind my manners. But, what are the chances of that?

Burning Love – Or, Curry-in-a-Hurry

Maybe I should have used an unchipped bowl and given it a wipe. But you get the idea.
Maybe I should have used an unchipped bowl. But you get the idea.

While my mom is an incredible cook whose chicken pie would beat Jamie’s hands down, she’s not what you’d call adventurous in the kitchen. When I was growing up, the most exotic things she added to her dishes were Bisto and a bit of white pepper. So, I never tasted a proper curry till I was about 27, and in all the years since I’ve had to make up for lost time (though, I have to assert, she has since perfected a lamb curry that would make Madhur Jaffrey hang up her apron).

I do like me a curry. Like my mom, I’m a gooier, which means I gravitate towards forgiving dishes – ones that won’t sulk and flop on you if you add three cloves of garlic instead of one (what’s the point of one?). There is something so wonderful about toasting spices, throwing hefty hunks of meat in the pot along with a tin or two of tomatoes and smelling it thicken and glorify while you mess around on Facebook. It’s a really hard dish to get wrong.

But sometimes my curry cravings come on arbitrary Tuesdays where I cannot (CANNOT) deal with anything that takes longer than 7 minutes. So, I came up with this dish which does all the good things a curry should do without being a nuisance and, what’s more, you will have every single one of these ingredients, I swear. You’ll need:

Ingredients:
1 onion
1 clove of garlic (okay, three)
1 tin of chickpeas
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped/a tin of tomatoes
Curry powder (whatever strength you prefer. I say, go for the hotness)
Cinnamon/turmeric/dried ghania/masala spice/dried ginger/ whatever you’ve got lurking. You don’t have to have them all.
Spinach or frozen peas
Chutney
Plain yoghurt and/or coconut milk (the latter is optional, and only if you were fancy at Pick n Pay)

Method:
Fry your chopped onion and garlic in a bit of oil, then and add your curry powder and whatever other spices you’re using. Be generous with the cinnamon. When they’re dark and your onion’s gone opaque, add the chickpeas. Shmoosh them around so that they’re covered in spices and then add your tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes, add half a glass of water too or it’ll be too dry. Let this lot cook up a bit, maybe for five minutes. When it’s looking like a curry, add a tablespoon of chutney, a swirl of yoghurt or coconut milk and fresh spinach or frozen peas or both. Season, and stir them around until they’re heated through. Voila! Burning love. Without getting all Nigella, it’s spicy, warming and delicious, and when the world feels hostile – as it totally does some days – this just hits the spot. Curl up on the couch and eat it in a bowl with a spoon and some extra chutney. And don’t share it with your children. Some things need to be just for you.