I am thrilled to let you know that Goodreads are giving away 10 copies of my book – entry details at the bottom of the page.
In the meantime for those of you who haven’t yet read the book (do such people really exist?!) a small sample. This is the section where Mrs Trinci, the Dalai Lama’s VIP chef, begins a journey of personal transformation …
“Merda!” Mrs. Trinci slammed a drawer she had open back into its cabinet, unleashing a jangle of cutlery before storming upstairs. “Watch the vegetables under the grill!”
No one in the kitchen could avoid the heavy footfall on the staircase, or the staccato of her heels as she strode across the staff kitchen, or her howl of exasperation as she confirmed the terrible truth for herself.
“What’s happened?” she demanded on her return. Face flushed to puce and eyes blazing, she poured the collective frustrations of the past week into this particular moment, a sabotage so shocking she was still reeling from disbelief.
“They were there last night. I made sure. Now, nulla, niente—nothing! Where are they?”
“I’m sorry”—Chogyal shook his head—“I have no idea.”
His relaxed shrug did nothing to placate her.
“You work up there. You must know.”
“The staff kitchen—”
“I had strict instructions: they mustn’t be touched. They can’t be replaced. I ordered them especially from Delhi. Not like that, stupido!” Mrs. Trinci pushed Chogyal away from the grill, where he was turning the zucchini too slowly for her liking, and grabbed the tongs from his hand. “I don’t have all day!”
She seized each vegetable, flipping it over and slapping it on the grill. “What must I do? Send out the monks of Namgyal to look for raspberries?”
Chogyal wisely decided to keep quiet.
“Phone every restaurant in town?” she continued, fury building. “Ask our VIP guest to buy some on his way through Delhi?”
Finished at the grill, Mrs. Trinci turned. “I am asking”—she brandished the tongs threateningly in Chogyal’s face—“what am I to do?”
Chogyal knew that whatever he said would be wrong. Cornered and compliant, he opted for the obvious: “Not worry about the raspberry sorbet.”
“Not worry?!” It was as though he had thrown high-octane fuel on a barely contained fire. “Incredibele! Whenever I try to do something really special, something above the mediocre, you people sabotage it.”
Her back to the door, Mrs. Trinci couldn’t see what caused Chogyal sudden concern. Far greater concern than the missing raspberries. “Mrs. Trinci—” he tried to interject.
But she was in full, Wagnerian flow. “First, it’s the unreliable facilities—the fridge. Then it’s the gas supply. How am I supposed to cook without a stove? Now, porca miseria—damn it—I have people stealing my ingredients!”
“Mrs. Trinci, please!” Chogyal pleaded, a half smile accompanied by an anxious frown. “Harsh speech!”
“Don’t you ‘harsh speech’ me!” The ride of the Valkyries was nothing compared to Mrs. Trinci in full flight. “What kind of idiot would use the only bag of raspberries in the whole of Jokhang the day before a VIP lunch?” White flecks appeared at the sides of her mouth. “What selfish fool, what imbecile would do such a thing?!”
Venting her fury on the unfortunate Chogyal, she didn’t expect an answer. But through the maelstrom, a reply came nevertheless.
“It was me,” a voice said softly behind her.
Mrs. Trinci wheeled around to find the Dalai Lama looking at her with an expression of immense compassion.
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