Ways to go coconuts
Q“I lent money to a friend a few months ago, and she still hasn’t paid me back. I don’t know how to ask her for the cash without seeming rude. What should I do?”
Lending money to a friend seems like a good idea at the time, but when that cash isn’t repaid, it can lead to resentment. So don’t worry about coming across as rude – she is being rude by not paying back what she borrowed!
Deal with this sooner rather than later, and write down what you want to say before contacting her. Don’t be accusatory, and talk about your feelings to lessen the chances of her getting defensive. Try saying, “I’m upset because I haven’t received the money I lent you.”
Now be quiet! Don’t weaken your statement by apologising or defending yourself. When she has responded, ask her to agree on a date for repayment. Follow up with a message confirming your agreement, so it is in writing.
When someone asks you for money in the future, say you’ll think about it, but don’t immediately reach for your purse – especially if your finances don’t allow it.
1Cook with the oil This kitchen essential has a subtle aroma of virgin oil which makes it great for tropical dishes and sautéing light ingredients, like seafood or veggies. It can also be used for baking. Just like butter, coconut oil is solid at room temperature and liquid when warm, so try it in place of some of the butter in cake recipes to lighten them up and add a nutty flavour.
2Factor in flakes Think of coconut flakes as your new nut. Toast them, then add to granola, or sprinkle over yoghurt or grains for a tasty finish. But do use unsweetened flakes – the sweetened stuff is a sugar bomb!
3Milk it We’ve long been using coconut milk in curries, but recently we’ve found it indispensable at breakfast as a creamy addition to coffee, oats or smoothies in place of milk or yoghurt.
4Sweeten up Sugar made from the coconut palm is less refined than white sugar, so it retains a good amount of potassium and iron. And it’s a blessing for any baker interested in alternative sugars as it’s an equal substitute for white sugar. Find it in some supermarkets and at natural food stores, like Wellness Warehouse.
5Add water Surely you got the memo that coconut water is hydrating? But it’s good for more than just replacing lost potassium after a workout. Coconut water can lend a hint of flavour to food: add a splash to a poaching liquid – again, go tropical and add lemongrass and lime – for chicken or a firm white fish, like cod.
Louisa Shafia is the author of the e-book Lucid Food (Potter/ Tenspeed/ Harmony; R313) and The New Persian Kitchen (Random House; R396).
et’s face it, Google is one of the world’s best firms to work for. From high-tech nap pods, free meals and laundry services to massage credits and access to groundbreaking lectures, it’s a fun and superproductive workplace. During my four years there as a user experience designer, I learnt loads – above all else, how to be myself and get ahead. I left last year and those lessons have stuck with me – and you don’t have to work at the Googleplex for them to help you, too.
The Google recruitment process is intense and includes having your phone screened, a take-home project, two days of interviews and a presentation. At one stage, I sat in a conference room with five equally nervous strangers. So, I announced I’d be presenting my design portfolio as an interpretive dance. It was a silly joke, but it broke the tension and, more importantly, I was being myself. Being comfortable in your own skin shows confidence and leadership potential.
2Schedule me-time during your day We could block off between 30 minutes and two hours in our work calendars for personal time as needed. Google trusts employees to do this whenever it feels best for them. The aim was
A few weeks in, I was working one-on-one with a product manager. He asked me to look up something on my laptop, but I clearly wasn’t speedy enough, as he took my laptop and did it himself. I quickly realised that Google moves at an incredibly fast pace and I felt pressure to share an instant opinion on design or strategic direction. However, my knee-jerk reaction often differed from the (better) opinion I later had.
Taking time to consider all the options gives you a greater chance of making the right decision from the start. In short: don’t be afraid to say, “I need some time to think about that.” I worked with brilliant leaders during my time at Google, but there was one person in particular who I really admired. When he was in a meeting, decisions were made faster and, best of all, we had fun. But it wasn’t that he had the best ideas – he just did an amazing job of listening to what everyone was saying, and making connections to bring us closer to our goal. Being a great leader isn’t always about talking non-stop and wowing with your creativity – sometimes, it’s about exposing the creativity in your team.
iskipped work the day after I got dumped because I felt physically ill from the ordeal. A day later, I was fine, if a little prone to crying. Sure, I was sad, but I wasn’t really worried about my future: I would heal and be just fine.
And I was. But the world didn’t seem to think so. Little did I know that I was about to enter four years of real-life quarantine because I had been infected with a dreadful ailment – singledom! And you’d think it was contagious.
For countless suppers, weddings and holidays to follow, I would be seated in life’s equivalent of the sick patient waiting area at the doctor’s office. My acupuncturist even told me I probably wouldn’t feel truly OK again until I found someone new. Things looked bleak, even in the opinion of medical professionals.
Despite this, I flew solo for four great years. I learnt to ignore the looks, comments and OTT sympathy. It wasn’t until I met my now boyfriend, James, that I got infuriated all over again. I updated my relationship status and kudos poured in: “You deserve it!” “Good for you, it’s brutal out there!” It was as if I’d kicked meth or got my degree.
For weeks, I was showered with praise and well wishes. Just like that, I wasn’t a mutt in the shelter any longer.
OK, world. We’re in the year 2017 here. It’s crazy to still live in a culture that sees less value in a single woman’s contributions than in those of women who have sexual and emotional teammates. Yes, a relationship can be beautiful, with moments that take your breath away, but guess what? So can single life.
In the years I spent single, I achieved more than I had in my entire adult life up until that point. I started an acclaimed podcast with a comedy partner, signed to the biggest talent agency in the world, appeared on TV multiple times, got out of debt, lost weight, became a happier person… I even gave a TED Talk. As a single woman, I became a better version of me.
And it was the first time in my life that I knew exactly what I wanted to contribute to the world. I was more emotionally whole than ever before. And I was whole, solo!
I was succeeding so much that when I met James, I was kind of annoyed. Why did the Universe send me someone so wonderful in the middle of my career winning streak? I’m certainly not hoping James dumps me, but the facts about single life should not be classified any longer. I suppose the reason for all the shade is that as long as we keep straight, single women questioning their value, men will always be a hot commodity and the family unit will remain safe. But the truth is this: being single isn’t better or worse than being in a relationship. It’s just different.
I love James and I’m grateful that someone came into my life who is dry-witted, unapologetically himself and able to recognise that the fast-food chain with the best Diet Coke is definitely Mcdonald’s, but every now and then, I reflect on that time I went to the movies to see Spring Breakers alone on a Friday night. It was great – both my elbows had armrests.
“The concept of a man paying is tied up in the idea that he’s a provider, and part of feminism is that women aren’t trapped in traditional gender roles. But why is it a problem? Once you settle down, you’ll have to contribute financially, plus the gender pay gap is a strong reason for him to pay. Some men subsidise women’s lesser pay and higher expenses – it’s not that strange.” – Heather Boushey, economist