Once again, I awoke in the middle of the night—before 3:30. I knew immediately that I would not be able to quickly fall asleep, though I had done precisely that when I got up at 12:30 and again at 2 to pee. At 3:30, though, I was up for the duration. A few days ago, a friend shared with me an interesting article from The Atlantic about “segmented sleep,” which ostensibly was common until the Industrial Revolution interfered with humans’ “natural” sleep habits. Those natural habits, according to some historians and others intrigued by the sleep patterns of our ancestors, included sleeping in segments. During the night, people would awaken from their slumbers for a while and engage in various activities, then return to bed for their “second sleep” segment that would last until morning. The Industrial Revolution, some of these sleep aficionados claim, demanded well-rested workers who got a full night’s uninterrupted sleep. Perhaps, through my regular bouts of wee-hour insomnia, I am unwittingly attempting to return to my ancestral roots. The difference, thus far, is that I generally eschew the second segment; I’ll have to give it a shot one of these days.

In the meantime, I will continue to use the silence and solitude of the early hours as a refuge from the chaotic swirl of daily life. I will continue to read, or write, or sit in contemplative silence as I explore thoughts that border on the unthinkable; nothing murderous or otherwise violent—fantasies, instead, that belong in the heads of someone younger and less risk-averse.

In the absence of sleep, hunger sometimes creeps into my consciousness. I generally am not one to have “midnight snacks” to satisfy my cravings, but I do tend to focus on reading about and thinking about food when hunger strikes in the deepest, darkest parts of the night. This morning/night was no exception. I read about spicy fried chicken that originates in the Indian state of Kerala. More on that below.


I lost myself trying to please everyone else. Now I’m losing everyone while I’m finding myself.

~ Buddha Daily ~


Bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to the east, the Indian state of Kerala is situated on the far southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. I know little about India and even less about its component states. But I know that each state’s unique culinary gifts have adherents worldwide. That is certainly true of Kerala. A food blogger, writing on the TravelTriangle website, is a die-hard fan of the state’s cuisine:

“Inspired by a fusion of Malabari, French, and Arabian influences and enhanced with a touch of Kerala’s unique culture, each dish in the state is an experience in itself that will leave you asking for more!”

Although Kerala’s foods are, traditionally, vegetarian, a distinctly non-vegetarian dish is among its best known culinary secrets. One of the dishes for which Kerala is known throughout Asia (and, it seems, the world) is Kethel’s Chicken Fry, whose origin can be traced to a restaurant that, years after its founding in 1949, remains famous for its spicy fried chicken. The restaurant, oddly named Rahmaniya Hotel , has expanded from its original site to four sites in Kerala: Trivandrum, Kollam , Kochi and Calicut. Locals refer to the place as Kethel’s Fried Chicken, or KFC, but the similarities between Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and the Keralan dish end with the generic main ingredient: chicken. Kethel’s uses only spring chickens. A BBC travel writer describes the dish as follows:

Only the legs and wings, the meatiest pieces of the otherwise small bird, are taken for the fry. The rest is chopped to make a gravy. A fiery masala is hand-pounded then hand ground, and then the chicken pieces are marinated in this special spice mix and deep-fried in coconut oil on a wood-fired stove. The leftover masala is also deep-fried, and when the chicken is served, the delectable bits, called the podi, are placed on top. 

Were I younger and financially flush, I would travel to Kerala to sample its cuisine. I would be especially interested in tasting Kethel’s Chicken Fry.


At a friend’s recommendation (the same friend who alerted me to the article that addressed the “second sleep”), we began watching Nine Perfect Strangers last night. I found it interesting, despite the fact that I kept drifting off while watching it (a response, perhaps, to my insomnia and my failure to engage in my “second sleep”). I have not yet decided whether I will really like the series or will reject it as presenting an impossible/improbable situation involving almost supernatural powers or witchcraft. But I do not yet know where it’s going, so it is too early to judge. And I was not sufficiently and consistently awake while watching it to make any reliable assessments. So, we will continue watching. I hope I will be less prone to drifting off to light sleep in the process.


Speaking of food, as I was, I made an interesting meal last night. At least I found it interesting. I seared some small strips of chicken breast meat and then sauteed them briefly with a sauce made from onions, garlic, shallots, dry sherry, spices, and vegetable stock. I made a vegetable side dish consisting of 2-inch pieces of asparagus sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and slices of Kalamata olives and pimento-stuffed green olives. I liked both dishes, though both of them took more time than I would have liked. Despite my lifelong enjoyment of cooking, I am finding the process of preparing meals less than fulfilling, these days. I’d rather have something extremely fast and simple, as opposed to something that takes time and is more complex. Cooking just isn’t as appealing today as it has been. I do not understand quite why that it. It may be the fact that I loathe the layout of and lack of convenient storage in the kitchen. But that does not fully explain my growing disinterest in cooking. The disinterest in cooking has not expanded into a disinterest in eating; if I could, I would eat everything within range of my mouth, I think. It’s all so damn confusing and annoying. Perhaps I need to engage a chef to prepare meals several times a week? Hmm. If I were exceptionally wealthy, maybe I would…


If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.

~ Tennessee Williams ~


I have plenty to do this morning, but my motivation is at a low ebb. If the air and the leaves weren’t so dry, I might go outside and build a fire so I could sit and stare at the mesmerizing flames as they lick the air above them. But even that would take work; I probably wouldn’t do it even if the air and the leaves were saturated with humidity.

Hmm. I drifted off for a moment. Maybe I need more coffee. Or more sleep.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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