Our Son Leaves Home and Official: I’m Writing a Book

Suddenly and devastatingly, our big boy, Charlie, has  become big enough to leave home.  How does that happen?  One minute we’re changing nappies and hanging out in the ball pool, the next he’s got himself a bank account and a place at university in Scotland.

After a long summer of goodbyes as his friends here in Delhi left for various corners of the globe, last week it was his turn.  Lots of tears, yes, but also lots of ‘last’ meals. Like the wonderfully comforting garlic pepper chicken prawns at Swagath in Defence Colony – Charlie’s favourite and one of Delhi’s most devour-able dishes. For lunch on his last day Dean and I took him for Delhi’s best sandwiches and cold coffee at Novelty Stores  in Jangpura where he loved the old fashioned stool-at-the-counter vibe.

But his last dinner had to be at home and he asked for his favourite: chicken pie.  I made them in individual tins with everyone’s names on – a bit of a fiddle but it kept my mind off the the very imminent departure.

I packed him off with a recipe notebook  containing  family favourites,  and like a good Indian mummy I padded out his case with  chaat masala ( I actually found myself saying “you might need it for the bland food”), garam masala and enough Five Stars and All Bar Ones to last him till Christmas.

The days since Charlie left have been the saddest we’ve gone through as a family; knowing that our boy is out there on his own and until December we’ll only set 4 places for dinner.

We’re all dealing with it in different ways.  His brother and sister message him constantly, his Dad makes sure the Nelson menfolk are all watching their beloved Tottenham Hotspur at the same time, and I’m sending recipes and reminding him to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day.

The day after he left  I went to Old Delhi.  This increasingly seems to be my cure-all – there’s something about the overwhelming chaos of the place that calms me down and eclipses other concerns, at least for a little while.

Old Delhi will have to work overtime in the next few weeks as I try to get used to Charlie leaving home.

And, as  luck would have it, I will be spending a huge amount of time there over the next year as I’ve just signed a contract with Aleph to write a book. The working title is ‘A Year in Old Delhi’, a portrait of (a love letter to?) a world that has transformed my life over the last few years.  I’ll be exploring the food and  the people who make the food;  peeking into homes and restaurants; collecting stories and recipes.    I’ll be watching the changes in the seasons and the way the food reflects the rhythms of the year.  I’ll be there for all the high days and holidays and plenty of others in between.   And of course, I’ll be blogging as I go.

I’m incredibly excited about the book –  without question, the highlight of my writing life – and to have the opportunity to spend the next few months in what is fast becoming my spiritual home is a huge thrill.  To be working with publisher David Davidar, and agent David Godwin is an enormous,  privileged bonus.

The publishing contract arrived yesterday – probably the most wonderful  letter I’ve ever received but also the scariest.  Apart from all the  daunting ‘hereafters’ and ‘witnesseths’ there are  phrases like ‘in the event of the death of the Author’.

But perhaps the most terrifying of all  is ‘The Author shall deliver the typescript of the Work (of approx 100,000 words) to the Publisher by 31st January 2012 (“Submission Date “).

Yikes! That’s a LOT of words. That’s really SOON.  Better crack on.  Wish me luck.


41 thoughts on “Our Son Leaves Home and Official: I’m Writing a Book

  1. Go for it Pam, you’re an inspiration. The book will emerge beautifully from your mind and heart. Can’t wait to read all about your life in food since you guys left Broughton Place pxx

  2. Hey Pamela….

    Best of Luck for your book; I am sure it would be a damn interesting read and would set new benchmarks !!!

    As a Son in a distant country I can imagine what Charlie must be going through these days.

    Keep eating & keep writing…


  3. Best of luck Pamela with your book, I am sure I will grab a copy as soon as it’s out..and keep writing your blog posts..For readers like me, they work just like Old Delhi magic works on you

  4. Congratulation Pamella…I will be waiting for this wonderful book. I can feel the spiritual undertones it will be having 🙂

    Did you really pack chaat masala n garam masala for your son ?
    Taste buds unite us truly 🙂

  5. Been there with the kids leaving home. The first time is really horrible, I sympathise. But, to be honest, prepare yourself, it doesn’t really ever get any better. It hurts every time they leave. Although it really helps if you know they’re happy. Neither of mine live in the same country as me. Nor in the same country as each other!

    Fantastic news about the book – what an amazing project to immerse yourself in. Good luck.

  6. No doubt bittersweet that the eldest has left the nest, sadness of missing him but surely pride and excitement for his current and future achievements.
    Congratulations on the book deal, that’s one I shall look forward to immensely.
    And pouring yourself into it will help distract you from missing him until he’s home in December.

  7. Hi pamela mam.
    best of luck for ur book, and i want to assure u that,Old And famous Jalebiwala ,,will try to help u as much as we can for ur book..
    maybe the original recipe also 🙂
    will need to convince my father for it :nerves:

  8. All the very best for your book…….if its anything like yr blog…….I am sure it will be a masterpiece……a must read.

  9. hey! and congrats! am offering help. as an ex editor and one who must have edited at least 20-30 cookbooks (but many years ago), i could help if you need it. lemme know … and wishing you much happy eating. … plus you are coping well, i can see that 🙂 xx

  10. Pip – thanks so much and good luck with all your amazing new adventures. WIsh I could pop into your pop-up! Look in on Charlie if you’re ever in Dumfries xx
    Robyn – Thanks – I’m hoping date is a misprint else I’m stuffed! x
    Thanks Narender
    Nishant – thanks – I think you’ll remember some of the episodes in the book – you were there at the beginning of the adventure! x
    Thanks Guy – you must be getting your fill of pies these days? x
    Vivek – thanks, that means a lot
    Thanks Sangeeta – yes I really did – I am like that only these days!
    Thanks Maunika x
    Earlybird – in fact, I’ve heard it gets more and more difficult as they need you less and less 😦
    Thanks Kavey, yes it’s a real tumult of emotions at the moment but the book couldn’t have come at a better time that’s for sure. Shame you’re not in Delhi with Mummy! x
    Abhishek – thank you so much – I’ll probably be along to see you tomorrow, I have something to show you!
    Ajaya – Thank you
    Kiran – I’ll need all the help I can get if that date isn’t a misprint!

  11. Hey Pamela! all the very best, I have been lucky enough to enjoy your high-teas! I am dead sure your book would be amazing!

  12. All the best for the new venture 🙂 I’m sure it will be great! I can’t wait to read it… And the very best to Charlie, as well!!

  13. All the best to Charlie for his new innings Pamela and hopefully the book will keep you from being too upset. Really looking forward to it. I am sure you will spin some wonderful yarns out of old delhi

  14. A book on the food, and the lives around the food, in Old Delhi? Oh Pamela, I can’t wait! I have a feeling this is going to end up being a tome I carry around with me for the rest of my life. Break a leg!
    Meanwhile, I am just back in Delhi again and eagerly awaiting the weekend so I can head off to Old Delhi myself….it’s been too long. And I think it’s time I finally hunted down those fruit sandwiches…

  15. Tennille – thanks so much, you’re so kind. Give me a shout when you’re going into Old Delhi, I might be able to come with you

  16. Thanks Kalyan – counting the days until Charlie comes back but so excited to be spending so much time in Old Delhi!

  17. Indeed, but am having big party here for my upcoming 40th birthday so not good time for me. Plus I’m focused on some professional certification trainnig and exams I’m doing and Pete’s looking for a new contract so not good time for us to travel. On the other hand, I’d rather like to be in Delhi…

  18. Hi Pam,
    Graham told me your news so I thought I’d tune in to see what’s been happening – I’m so impressed with all you’ve achieved, is it really only 4 years since you’ve been gone? It seems like forever -( Nelsons come back we miss you).
    Your high teas sound amazing, as do your other culinary adventures.Its so great when you can follow your passion. You were made for this, that’s how it seems.
    Congratulations on the book, I’m sure it’ll be a great read – let us know when it’s out and we’ll order a signed copy,
    P.S. I have every confidence that Charlie will have fab times and will cope wonderfully with uni life. Its hard on you though, its part of the gradual letting go, necessary but painful. He’ll be back before you know it. With washing.

  19. I guess, if that’s what your son wanted then you cant do anything about it.
    But there’s hope that he would have grabbed some indianness by now and decide to stay close to the parents/family once the education is complete.

    You never know. Life is full of surprises 🙂

    Gud lock for your book. I am sure you are gonna nail it. Let me know when the pre-order comes out.

    ps: As an aside, would you like your kids to continue staying with you guys after their education is complete, if they want the same ???

  20. good luck! i’ve been reading your blog entries for a while,i really enjoy the way you give new interpretations to Indian food without loosing its essence.I can’t wait to get hold of your book and it’ll be my first purchase of cookbook! Until then i’ll hold on to mum’s recipes.

  21. My kids are still young but I am already apprehensive thinking about the day they will leave. It’s a good thing you have a book deal to keep your mind off it. That is wonderful, many congratulations!!

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