Writer in the Library

If you were there, hope you enjoyed the stories about working in the British Library. Here is a request slip from one of my earliest involvements with the library.

Asian Achievers Award 2015

People's Award for Media, Arts & Culture. Asian Achievers Award at Grosvenor House, 18 September 2015. A surprise!

Triton's Christmas recipe

This is how Triton prepares to cook the Christmas turkey for Mister Salgado's party in Reef.

That December I roasted a turkey for the first time in my life. I had never done anything like it before. It was a big bird but except for its size, I had no problem. Lots of basting and plenty of salt and butter worked wonders. The stuffing of raisins and liver, Taufik’s ganja and our own jamanaran mandarins was enough to moisten a desert.


Mister Salgado himself helped me with the temperature and time factors. He sat with a pencil and a piece of paper. How heavy was the bird? What settings did the oven have? How long did I roast a chicken for? A duck? Pork? What size? What weight? He pursed his lips thoughtfully and consulted a cookery book. He gave me instructions like a professor and went into absurd detail: the angle of the bacon on top of the breast, the streakiness of its fat, the rind. Once I discovered the right setting for the knob, and the number of hours to let it go, I stopped listening. Dry heat baking—big deal: when it comes down to it either you know how to handle a bird or you don’t.

My big problem was how to keep the creature from rotting for a day and a half. Mister Salgado had ordered it for Christmas Eve, and it was delivered in the morning. He didn’t think of what to do next. The bird weighed sixteen pounds—one hundred rupees’ worth, the bill was tied to its claw. The creature could just about be squeezed into the oven but it would not fit in the fridge unless the whole thing was cleared out, and that was impossible: we were fully loaded for the party. The only thing I could think of doing was to wash it down, dry it thoroughly with a towel and marinate it in soy sauce, cloves, garlic and liquor, wrapped up in an old cotton sheet. I did so the morning it arrived, but by afternoon I was worried. A turkey is not like wild duck or batagoya or jungle fowl. Wild meat is tough; it can take our putrefying heat. The rotting pre-digests it, gives it some taste, but these puffed- up monsters are like white bread: a couple of hours and they begin to go bad. Mister Salgado sniffed at it and suggested ice. I bought two huge blocks and packed a tub with ice and turkey. Covered it with a brown gunny sack to keep the cool in.

Read on from page 78 to find out what happens: Reef