Minkey Business

"Over the cage floor the horizons come."

Category: Off the Cuff

Stop apologising for your cuisine

I know too many Indians who apologise for Indian food. They apologise for it being too spicy, or too smelly, or too sweet, or too much eaten with the hands. Someone I know regularly pontificates about how we Indians “overcook” all our vegetables, turning them into mush. This is a notion I find offensive on […]

The return of cooking over wood

I’m standing in the sun in a sweaty T-shirt and hiking hat, my hands are blackened, and charcoal smoke gets in my eyes as I lift a lid and stir a bubbling dish. The scene makes me remember my aunt in Dubai who is an amazing cook. One of her many signature dishes is “handi […]

Cars don’t cause accidents, car drivers do

When we moved into our new house, I joined the local community on Nextdoor.com. It’s a good way to find out what’s happening in the area, whether learning of local businesses, or being warned about car theft, coyotes, and door-to-door solicitors. I don’t participate in online discussions, but recently when the neighbours began complaining loudly […]

Life and death in the garden

I have a monster in the garden. A warm, bristly monster of my own creation that I feed regularly. I don’t know if you’ve heard of “lasagna gardening”, more accurately called sheet composting. It’s especially useful when you want to get rid of the lawn, but can’t be bothered to cut out and transport all […]

When a tree falls in a backyard, everyone hears it

Living in Southern California, we’ve had many visitors from Australia who exclaim in surprise as we drive back from the airport, “This looks a lot like home!” One big, or rather many big reasons, are the eucalyptus trees. They aren’t native of course, but have been here so long that it’s complicated. The “gum trees” […]

Plotting the return of manufacturing

At the recent Los Angeles Audio Show, an industry rep laughingly described a pair of wireless active speakers he’d seen at one of the rooms. “They’re powered by 18V batteries just like the ones you get at Home Depot for power tools. Right there, sticking out of the back.” It’s not that he thought it […]

Hitch your leash over a hydrant and walk away

I was at a party where a dog played with a football. I got the ball off him, and joined the game in a way you could consider teasing. I hid the ball behind me, pretended to throw it, unexpectedly threw it in a different direction, and then, when I got it back, put my […]

Cooking at the bicycle kitchen

It’s with laughing self-awareness that my friend B. and I speak of how the ritual of acquisition is often more the point than need; pride of possession more relevant than regular use. Though he has three beautiful steel bicycles, it was almost biological inevitability that led him to drive over a 100 miles early one […]

Let’s cut the funds for beauty

California is blooming. It’s spring after a series of winter storms that pulled us out of drought, and there are flowers everywhere. In gardens, riverbeds, the desert, on the mountains, on freeway embankments. Plants that looked dead when we moved into our house two months ago, now look like bouquets. For an all-too-short two weeks, […]

The Wild West in the attic

One recent weekend, I donned some old clothes, pulled on a headlamp and dust mask, and went reverse spelunking in the attic. I was attempting to run Ethernet cable from the router to my audio system, keeping as much of it hidden as possible. My wife came up the ladder, and stuck her head into […]