Life for Beginners

Stories by Kenny Mah   |   Live Everything

Close

Divinity

I am in my friend Sapna’s kitchen as she prepares a meal fit for Diwali. A meal made from the heart for family and friends. A meal that shines with light and love.

She tells me that in Goa, where she grew up, very little oil is used. Coconut vinegar is also called toddy there and it’s much sweeter than the acids we are used to. “It’s the Portuguese influence, you see,” she says. “In Kerala, where I was born, it’s all about fresh ingredients, very little spices and no vinegar at all. But in Goa, the Portuguese brought vinegar and food could be fermented.”

I love the stories she tells as she cooks.

Read more

“I told you so.”

“This one is not her first boyfriend,” my sister sniffs, usually a warning that she’s about to start, “this boy’s her second one. And she’s only nineteen!”

I want to say “And how old were you when you had your second, your third boyfriend?” but I keep mum, for I know the answer and I know it will not please her.

Instead I listen to her worries about her daughter and her woes as a mother patiently. I nod at the right places. I hum an “Mm-hmm” or two under my breath. I can imagine my eldest niece rolling her eyes. I’m tempted to do the same but this would be unwise while my sister is still at it.

Read more

Wordlessly

We have been hitting one café after another in Amsterdam. First Espressofabriek where yogis and yoginis practise in the park opposite, stopping only when the rains come; then Quartier Putain, so named after the red light district; Koko, a sunlit boutique where fashion and cappuccinos mingle; and now we are at White Label, where there is a map of the world with coffee tags attached to countries from which the beans are sourced.

Read more

Unblossomed

You love buying fresh stalks of pussy willow every Lunar New Year. They stay in their long cylindrical vase until a year has passed and it’s time to buy new stalks.

Read more

A girl and a boy at a café

There was a girl at a café. Her hair an unruly mop; her mom would complain, “Too short!” How will you attract boys? is what her mom meant. The girl didn’t care. She was content to sit in the café and sip her coffee, watching other girls talking to their silly boys. Coffee is better than boys, she decided.

Read more

© 2001–2014 Life for Beginners. All rights reserved. Design by Anders Norén.

“Words are beautiful.”