Now for part -2 .....
People gravitated to him ....he never understood why, but they just did. He was always trying to fix something for someone, be it a relationship or an old car or helping someone ensemble Ikea furniture. Ironically his own dad never called him for any help, even when he was in financially need. It did hurt him, he could never be the perfect son.
It had been a long day, two difficult meetings, loosing a pitch was always a defeat, no matter how small the client was. Well if the client was asking for the moon for the price of coffee, there was no way they could have won that pitch. They all knew it, but the numbers had to be met. The quarterly reports were looking dismal.
"What are you doing here?" Natasha's low pitched voice startled him. Sia had invited him for dinner at Nat's place... everyone called Natasha, Nat. He was contemplating....why did Nat not mention this, she had met him before the big meeting. He was standing in the underground parking lot and staring at a blank wall, contemplating. "I'll see you at seven", and she walked away. Sia and Nat did their high school together. Sia's fiancée (Steve) and Nat had worked together long years before he met Sia.... life is a complete circle.
Was there more to their meetings than just casual friendship. He wondered what his grandma would think, if she knew he was dating a woman four years older than himself. 'Dating' he choked ...am I dating? are we dating?? we ... Nat and Neil ...is it a we? At least it rhymes, Nat and Neil.
It was thirty minutes past seven and he picked up her favorite bread from her favorite bakery .... he smelt like a baker, waiting for almost an hour for the damn bread to be baked. She opened the door and asked him to slice up the bread and grate the cheese... how did she know? Was there a spy at the bakery? Probably the smell of fresh bread.
He placed the dried wheat bunch on the table. The florist had recommended this golden wheat bunch ..."it never dries, unlike fresh flowers", she had laughed. She had put a huge ribbon...it looked pretty. "Wow, these are gorgeous" Sia exclaimed. Nat looked up from her chopping board... rolled her eyes, "what are these ?" Neil smiled, "flowers that never dry, or something like that" Sia arranged them and kept them by the lamp, Nat did not even give it a second look.
She was a magician in the kitchen, every drop of that soup was lapped up. The bread was perfect, Neil was given credit as though he had baked it. Steve and Nat were busy engaged in a discussion about country music. "What's that, is it a Seagull ?" Neil exclaimed...." Can I " It was a guitar, Nat's brother was a struggling musician, a rebel without a cause.
As Neil strummed .....Nat glanced at him, there was a spark in that look. All evening, he just sat their entertaining Sia. Steve and Nat were too busy for either of them. Human relationships are stranger than fiction. We love people and when the people we love, love the other people in our lives, we don't love them any more. We want every relationship at our own terms. It takes two to make a relationship work and whose terms ?
He was doing the dishes, he was more comfortable in her house than she was. They exchanged smiles...she still did not say anything about the flowers...probably it was a stupid idea.
As he wore his winter jacked to brave the wind chill..."Thanks for the flowers...ummm the wheat bunch", she smiled and kissed him.....
To be continued.....
- 1 cup French lentils cooked
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup bell peppers (colors of your choice)
- 1/4 cup celery chopped
- 1/2 red onion roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup broccoli chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots chopped
- 2 cups tomato puree if fresh 1 cup if tinned
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 4-5 basil leaves crushed or dry basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp. red chili flakes ( optional
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- black pepper freshly grated to serve
Takes , plus time to cook the lentils
- Cook the lentils and keep aside.
- In a pot, heat olive oil, add bay leaf, crushed garlic, and onion, roast till onion is mildly caramelized.
- Add celery, carrots, let it cook a bit, add bell peppers and roast, not add half of the veggie stock and salt.
- Add the tomato puree, if the tomato puree is very watery, reduce the amount of stock. Add the rest of the stock, if required..
- Sprinkle with chopped basil, add the cooked lentil, bring to boil.
- Add half of the cheese and chili flakes.
- Serve hot with fresh grated cheese and black pepper. Serve with a side of seasoned olive oil and your favorite bread.