Cooking in the Ashram part II
…Now that I got the green light from Lizzie, I thought right I’m all over this bad boy. I had Tom and Waleed looking at me like rabbits caught in the headlights. Garlic, we need garlic peeling. ‘What’s that for?’ asks Tom. I told him I wasn’t sure yet. Whatever we were going to cook was just bound to have loads in. By keeping him busy I could work out what else we could get done. I got Waleed on onions. Then Dave comes in the tent and I nearly went a bit chef on him as I hadn’t realised he was missing. I asked him where he’d been and when he told me he’d been getting water I instantly felt bad for forgetting where we were.
Waleed sort of strayed away from the onions, but that was OK. He’s a military man and I just thought that his onion limit was bound to be far lower than mine. It didn’t matter, Dave was back. When he asked me what I wanted him to do I just showed him the size of the brunoise and gave him what I now realise was a really crap knife.
It wasn’t long before Tom started moaning about the garlic but he makes everything he says sound hilarious so we just launched into a bit of kitchen banter over it. A few others joined in and we really had a laugh. I nipped out for something, and when I came back in it was clear that something had happened.
Dave was sort of crouching on the kitchen floor with his arm in the air. Two Kurdish guys seemed to have hold of his hand. He’s gone and cut his thumb. It seemed pretty nasty too. Man down. The Kurds seemed to have it all under control so I just cracked on.
I started chopping some of the cabbage that we brought. I could tell it had to be washed. That was going to be a pain in the ass. Two Swedish volunteers appeared and asked me what needed doing? By now all new recruits were coming straight to me. I managed to swerve the cabbage mountain and passed it over to them. They could stand there and chop it while they got their bearings.
By now, Tom was losing the will to live with the garlic, Dave’s thumb was a serious issue and Waleed was getting a bit fidgety again. One of them suggested driving to the distribution centre with the warm clothes and things we’d brought. We’d been warned not to try to hand them out at the Ashram or there was a serious risk of getting mobbed.
Great idea I thought. You guys take the van, go sort that and I’ll get this dinner sorted with the hands that were loitering about.
After they went I started chopping the garlic. A few minutes later I could feel someone watching me. I just carried on but after another 5 minutes this tall African looking guy eventually takes a step closer and said, ‘you do that very nice’. I thanked him and he went on to tell me he thought I’d done it before. ‘Are you a chef?’ he said. I said, ‘yeah, I’m a chef’ and he just smiled at me. I asked him his name and where he came from and he told me his name was Farouk and that he was from Sudan. He seemed willing to help so I got him on dishes. A little while later I ran out of water. Farouk was straight over grabbing two 20 gallon drums and headed to go fill them up.
When he came back I could hear him speaking to one of the other volunteers. A pretty british girl called Amy who’d cycled into the jungle by herself to lend a hand. I heard him ask her if she was married and I giggled to myself thinking, ‘you sly dog Farouk I got my eye on you’. She answered that she wasn’t and asked him straight back if he was. ‘yes’ he replied. ‘I have wife and 2 children in Sudan.’
‘I just wanted to find a job, so i can send money to Sudan to feed my wife and children.’
So now I’m looking at this big smiling helpful ray of light of a man thinking, ‘I just don’t have a problem with that. Why is this man clinging to life in this hellhole?’ He just needs a break and for fucks sake I could use someone like this in my business in England. The utter injustice I felt for Farouk right then, he just hasn’t got the right papers. There was me moaning about having to fork out £130 for a one day passport application before we left because as usual I’d just left it to the last minute.
To be continued…