- The Lunch Box
I don’t know why I do this. I keep disappearing from this page and then come back with a resolve to be more regular with my writing, only to fall into the same trap again! Here I am, back again after a long hiatus, promising myself that I’ll be more disciplined going forward. Let’s see how it goes.
The other day I was talking to a friend from school and was getting nostalgic about those growing up years. We spoke about a lot. The school assembly, the teachers, the basketball court, getting punished, the dreaded homework, and the best of them all, the lunch break. I don’t know how it works today in Jamshedpur, but back in the late 80s and the early 90s, the lunch break at schools across Telco Colony was a sacred affair with a great many rituals performed. Everyday, the same pattern would play out and we would participate in it with vigor and cheer.
At the sound of the bell announcing the lunch break, we would rush out of the classroom, not wanting to waste even a single minute. The destination was the assembly area near the school gate, where all our tiffin boxes were kept. We didn’t carry our lunch with us; it was sent to the school by our mothers through tiffin-wallahs, who would collect the lunch boxes from various homes, before getting them to the school on their bicycles. We would identify our lunch boxes by the bag that they used to come in. Sometimes, even bags looked similar probably because they were bought from the same store in Telco Colony. In such cases, improvisations were performed, such as etching the name of the student on the lid of the lunch box. Continue reading
Let’s talk about one of the most favorite snacks of India. The humble samosa. To the uninitiated, samosa is a stuffed pastry with savory filling inside, usually consisting of spiced potatoes, onions, peas, and coriander. I used to think that the samosa is indigenous to India, however, I was surprised to find out that it originated in Central Asia and was introduced to India only in the 13th or 14th century by Arab traders. However, the popularity of the snack today in India is phenomenal. Every region, every state, in India loves its samosa and has its own version of the ubiquitous snack. In this post, I’m going to talk about the kind of samosas made in the eastern region of India in general and Jamshedpur in particular.
First things first, the samosa is not called samosa in Jamshedpur at all! Owing to the huge Bengali influence on the city, it is referred to, by its Bengali name, ‘Singara’. My mouth waters as I write this word, and my vision is filled with the triangular pastry shell filled with amazing mashed, spiced potatoes inside. It is usually served with an accompaniment, usually some kind of chutney, however, I like it even if it is not accompanied by anything. Continue reading
How many of you have heard of ‘dadhi chhua’? Now, what was that? No? Never? Well, how about ‘Padda Kudi’ or ‘Atti Patti’? ‘Gobar Danda’? No? No clue? I don’t blame you. If you are not from Jamshedpur, you wouldn’t have heard any of these names ever in your life. These are games that kids play, or at least, used to play in Jamshedpur. Mention any of these games to a Jamshedpur guy and you can be sure of sending them on a trip down memory lane evoking a strong sense of nostalgia. Hell, you might even see them secretly shed a tear in the memory of those golden days that will never come back. Yes we used to play the usual cricket, football, basketball, badminton and hockey, albeit with tree branches, not hockey sticks. But then, during the long summer holidays, when we got bored playing the usual games, we would go back to ‘Atti Patti’ and ‘Gobar Danda’. My limited research in the field indicates that these games are completely indigenous to Jamshedpur. Nowhere else have I seen or heard of kids playing ‘Dadhi Chhua’ for instance. Continue reading
I was introduced to golgappas by a neighbor in Jamshedpur. I was very young then, about 6 years old. I had just moved in to my parents’ house from my grandparents’ where I had stayed till that time. It is so long ago, but somehow I still remember that evening distinctly. My neighbor rang the bell and asked me if I would like to eat golgappas. I wasn’t so sure as my grandparents did not allow me to eat any street food. But I was at my parents’ place now, and I thought, let me ask Mom and see what she says. We asked Mom for her permission to go out and eat and to my surprise she readily agreed. We ran out excitedly.
There was a ‘golgappawallah’, right outside our building, which for some queer reason is called ‘block’ in Jamshedpur. I still remember the tangy taste of the first golgappa, which was too big for my little mouth. From that day on, I became a golgappa fanatic. My growing up years in Jamshedpur has a very close link with this delicious snack. My friends and I used to frequent the various golgappa stalls in Telco Colony. This is how we used to celebrate our small successes and treat each others. Continue reading