When I went to live in Charlottesville in February 2016, I became friends with my daughter’s friends. Nola had lived there for quite a while. She had a beautiful home in Crozet, which she sold this year. My late husband, and I visited her in this house in the summer of 2010.

When Nola had purchased the house, the basement wasn’t done. When she learnt that we would be coming, and would stay for a while, she quickly did up the basement for us. The basement had a bedroom, bathroom, a tiny kitchen, a giant size living area with a huge tv and a computer room. She had also installed a washer and dryer just for my use, so that for washing I didn’t have to climb upstairs. 

The patio doors opened to the outside area. She had even put two deck chairs on the patio for us to sit, and enjoy the marvelous view. She did all this to tempt her father into staying permanently. We went back home to Peshawar in September, and learnt that her father had stage four cancer. The next two years went in a blurry of sadness, and pain.

When I bought my own small place, I became friends with all her friends. They invited me to lunches and dinners. I invited them too to a lunch. One lady A who is a doctor, and teaches at University of Virginia arrived early before the other guests.  I had completed my other dishes, except for the rice. She is an Egyptian American. She watched with interest as to what I was adding to my rice. 

I like mildly spicy food. My main spices for adding to the rice were cumin, cloves and large cardamoms. It turned out that A boils her rice, and that was the only way she did hers. It was a revelation for her, when I sautéed the onions first, then added chicken pieces, spices,  chickpeas, rice and raisins. 



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