Monday, February 22, 2010

Atithi Devobhava - Aanand

It goes without saying that as kids we were delighted to have our house swarming with this pot pourri from all parts of Bihar for the simple reason that our surroundings lacked the discipline much required for serious studies and as my husband pointed out recently, it was an appropriate place for much entertainment but not conducive to intelligent learning.i however remember that we may not have gained anything what we call textbook learning and oblivious that we were of the competitive arena which happened much later in life, we were very jolly and happy to have the tamasha like environment.That boring process called studies was limited only to hurriedly finish our homeworks after which all four us would be seen scampering off to our chosen ones.i would choose that bunch which would regale me with all the churail and dayan stories and my brothers would choose someone who could narrate film stories which had lots of dhishum dhishum and how the hero of the movie would eventually beat the villain to a pulp.Well the aftermath of these naturally would leave me chewing my nails with thrill combined with fear and wanting to keep the lights on while i slept. But of course with my brothers something different. The younger one would be seen sulking in the corner after having lost to the elder brother in a duel of dhishum dhishum.Nothing unusual as he was the evil Pran or Prem Chopra always who had to surrender to Dharmendra or Rajesh Khanna always.The sulk was not so much for the aches and pains but more for the prejudiced allottment of roles.Sometimes i got some accidental hits too when i was included as Hema Malini or perhaps Zeenat Aman who would be taken away by Pran or Prem Chopra and the then Dharmendra or Rajesh Khanna would arrive to rescue the damsel in distress.But i didn't mind as i was bribed to quietitude instead of bowling which was my regular style with a candy to keep my trap shut and not to complain.So we had a happy and funfilled life where nothing was a serious matter.
Yes we did get plenty of exposure to other more important aspects as well.The masaledar rustic snacks like Bhoonja which can be called a distant cousin of Jhalmuri and just like jhalmuri offered plenty of opportunities for innovation and this could be made in a jiffy with any roasted or some unroasted grains available unlike jhalmuri which requires puffed rice.Then there was this drink made from Sattu (roasted gram flour)supposed to be a RAM BAN elaz (sureshot cure)for any kind of constipation and this drink too offered varieties as it could be made as a shake with milk and sugar or as a chilling slightly spicy drink with water, lime juice and sugar or salt as one preferred it.
But for these people we would have never known the names of greens other than spinach/palak. So there was this Khesari ka sag, Bathua ka sag, Soya which was added to potatoes to give it a unique flavour, Chana ka sag which had to cook on slow fire for a long time and mixed with other spices like chillies and garlic and fresh mustard oil was a delight with hot rice,Sarson ka sag, methi which was also added to potatoes and other veggies to give it a lovely flavour ,and something called nonia which either could be cooked on it's own or added to others.i know now that soya is dill,sarson is mustard,methi is fenugreek,and the tiny leaves of green gram plant is chana ka sag but still don't know what khesari and bathua are called in English.But i do know that a dash of it in sarson ka sag makes it doubly yummy and being seasonal and regional is never found in Chennai. Also that Khesari is a banned item now, i wonder if it had raised the same hulla bulloo as Bt Brinjal when it was discovered to have induced paralysis in cattle. Now though as kids we had an aversion to one and all because all we adored in vegetables was the crisply fried potatoes called bhujiya.All of us definitely loved the pickles of all kinds including those made with greens and also the all time favourite with anything was gudamma the sweet and sour mango pickle made with jaggery.And not to miss amoth or aampapad commonly known in Hindi, a kind of dry chewable and suckable sweet and sour candy made with the pulp of ripe and sweet mangoes. However we enjoyed the camaraderie which the green spreads caused among the males and the females present and how once at least it presented the picture of harmony.The ladies of the house would be seen preparing with utmost devotion to please the male gentry who in turn would be giving appreciative and affectionate nods at the thought of the variety and the nutrition the greens and the labour of the ladies offered for the day.
But the most endearing of all these was our exposure to the different dialects of Bihar.Unlike my other friends in school who are familiar only with one of their own and some none at all, we were the blessed ones to know all the four major regional dialects called Magahi and Angika ,the very popular Bhojpuri,and the oh so sweet Mythili the singsong sound of which is similar to Bengali and even when the arguement is rough still sounds polite . i am still smiling the toothless ,happy giggles of joy at the various sounds of these as each sounded unique some what funny but original and pure.While our guests delighted us with theirs we made them swell with pride when they asked us to translate something of theirs in English as they were in awe of the fact that we were going to a Christan(christian) school and were in no way less than the ENGLANDIANS(English/British to be more precise).So we basked in all that glory enjoying every bit the cocked up ears so eager to hear us speak in English and all the facial expressions which conveyed that we were simply the very best.So this was when we were Godlike and it was the age of innocence...when profanity had no cheap meanings and it was just a sound of annoyance or resentment,happiness or sadness,meeting or parting,appreciation or dislike and if not anything just plain affection.i say this because if someone said- "dekhain cho ki nain chaunri kehno badjat chai"(can't you see how naughty the girl is)i would have smiled at the affectionate reprimand and would have never gone to think even once that Badjat literally means something awful.But this was way back when every thing was just one unique sound the stress of which only made us burst into peals of laughter.

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