A salad from Bhutan

From the wet market

I first ate this salad for breakfast in central Bhutan, where it was served heaped on a huge bowl of fried rice – a fine farmer’s breakfast.

Aum Tashi Wangmo, our host, had pulled the ingredients from her garden shortly after dawn. She chopped and sliced the vegetables, wielding a vast knife and chopping board as she perched awkwardly on a tiny stool in the middle of the kitchen floor. Crumbling a handful of homemade cheese on top, she slid it onto the dining table, where we promptly demolished it, pestering her for the recipe between mouthfuls.

Salad and handTashi Wangmo’s breakfast salad is called Goen Hogay (“cucumber salad”) in Dzongkha. Because Bhutanese farm cheese is a friable feta-like cheese, and because the other major ingredients are cucumber, tomato and onion, the salad bears more than a passing resemblance to a Greek salad. What lifts the Bhutanese version apart from its European…

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How I experienced the life of a model, with Gudrun Sjoden

myf draws apparently

I haven’t exactly been blessed with the looks of a model, so no-one was more surprised than me to receive an offer to be photographed for a fashion catalogue. In fact, my first reaction may have been a snort.

But it all makes sense when you find out that the invitation came from Gudrun Sjoden. They regularly photograph their clothes on models who are “non-industry standard” — older, more characterful or larger than most brands would touch with a bargepole. (Makes perfect sense to me: their clothes are made for all ages and spread across a massive range of sizes, so why not reflect customers’ own looks?)

In this case, the shoot was to feature ‘friends of Gudrun’: bloggers, artists, novelists and other creative types. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with some events in Gudrun’s London store, and that’s what put me on the early plane to…

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An Open Letter to Dominos Monday

Throwing Up In Kindergarten

Hey you,

How was your day? Good? Mine, too.

I’m a little confused: mostly because I decided to watch For Colored Girls on BET and when I turned the channel, I saw a preview for a show called Being Mary Jane and this woman said, “Did his penis enter any hole in your body?” I was startled and didn’t expect it. It would have been great if you were here. I could have used you. And that’s what confuses me… what helps me so much also hurts me to the core. It all started tonight. On Mondays, I’ve started taking longer runs–longer than most of the others throughout the week. I do that because I have you come over. Mondays are our day. I pull up the Dominos app, and I have you saved under a special order name called “Mmm Boy.” A deep dish pepperoni pizza with a 20…

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I See Your Preferences, Wendig

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

Earlier this week, Chuck Wendig posted a piece on his blog – I Smell Your Rookie Moves, New Writers – which, as the title suggests, is a takedown of particular errors he feels newbie authors make. It’s been doing the rounds on my tumblr, Facebook and Twitter feeds, because quite a lot of people I follow seem to share his sentiments; but as often as I’ve agreed with Wendig’s rants in this past, this isn’t one of those times. In fact, my abiding reaction to the early sections in particular has been one of teeth-grinding fury.

Before we get started, let me make two things clear up front: firstly, that I have an inherent dislike of writing advice that lays down specific mandates regardless of where it comes from; and secondly, that I have enormous respect for Wendig himself as a writer. His prose is punchy, sharp and bruisingly beautiful…

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Being A Deaf Writer

Cats and Chocolate

Sometimes, being a deaf writer presents a unique set of challenges that hearing writers might not be as concerned about. Some of these challenges might seem obvious, some of them less so. For example, dialogue can be something I struggle with – developing someone’s voice, the way they speak, without coming across as stilted or character voices being too similar. A less obvious issue would be whether or not to write stories with deaf characters. Is it necessary to always write characters that are deaf, or just happen to be? Does it immediately follow that I will need to learn how to convey a world-view that shows what someone can and can’t hear or understand?

Penguin Aids

Some of my fiction has been an attempt to write stories with deaf characters. Some of my experiments have been more successful than others – some have become too complicated, whilst I’ve recently finished a…

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