Friday, August 6, 2010


She often wonders about the strange tastes that she had and still has.Everything about her was different from what normal girls her age would prefer.For instance when girls loved to play with dolls she would be happily playing goollee ( marbles) with the road side urchins never minding one bit the dirt that would make it's way into her clean clothes, and also her hands and nails while she squatted and used her right middle finger as a catapult to propel the goollee into the hole.
Ecstatic with joy if she won as she would greedily count her looty and morose most of the times as it was often that she lost many of her favourite goollees.
Fussy about clothes she would with the help of her doting father give endless instructions to the tailor about how the cut should be or how the dress should fall...just up to her knees...nothing more...nothing less.Meaning thereby that the silhouette would always be a feminine one but the body that wore it had strange and weird boyish tastes.People definitely found it weird because according to them none of the colony girls did what this sandy haired fair child of Mr Singh did.Which was that she would be seen hanging around with the urchins and doing all that they did...climb trees and steal guavas or lattoo (top), goollee, learn even more games with tamarind seeds, another with pieces of broken bangles called chayan churee, also play cowrie sometimes with shells if someone owned shells or else with just plain chips used for construction.
Unlike the decent girls who would stay indoors in the afternoons and come out to play langdi taang with the other girls or just simply keet keet or budhiya kabbaddi in the evenings she had no such routine.One would see her gallivanting around up and down the lanes with these urchins while a serious game of goollee danda was in progress. A scar on right eyebrow is a a testimony to the fact that that God was on her side those days too or else in her bid to catch the speeding goollee she would've lost her right eyes forever.Instead she got a nasty cut right where the eyebrows start...a rather deep one and instead of whimpering she was delighted to see the blood oozing furiously cause it gave her the title of a brave sport and how she loved every bit of fussing that went on later.First from her friends and later by her parents.
Today she lies to her only son about that scar and misguides him by making up a totally different story lest the boy should feel how bawdy his mom was when she was a kid.
 By the way this mom has always demanded primness and discipline from him forgetting all that she did as a kid.

Perhaps her love for BEESCOOT had also originated with that nasty cut when in an attempt to make her feel setlled one of the urchins had offered her one.While the other went indoors to get some water for her.
That was the first time she munched into the pale coloured biscuits that were visible from the jars of the roadside tea shops.The elongated oval shaped but very melt in the mouth biscuit which neither tasted sweet nor salty but unique.That taste hit her palate only to stay with her forever.And it was called BEESCOOT.That's how the boy had pronounced it offering her one in a crumpled, old , Hindi newspaper.
The fussing went on for days with a difference.At home she would gulp her horlicks with much irritability on being nagged by her Ma then hurriedly take a bite from the Brittania Glucose biscuit and just when Ma would leave to attend to her other chores, out she would scoot calling to the urchins from behind her gate not only to play but also to swap her biscuits with BEESCOOT.
There was something so delicious about the Beescoot that no matter how hard she tried she could never get to love the factory made biscuits which come golden browned and in fancy packages cause she feels they are missing something very special which perhaps could be the key ingredient.These smell artificial and miss the smell of the earth.

Even today she wonders how many people cannot simply do without these fancy biscuits because she has yet to develop a taste for it. Instead she craves BEESCOOT which she can find no more.

She remembers the smoky and earthy flavour...the flavour which had a faint hint of wood smoke to baked flour and the crusty bite which would reduce the piece to micro granules instantly...some still lingering on the lips unless brushed away with the back of the hand.Some were irregularly oval as if just flattened with hand and not rolled while others were not so round and the colours ranged from being off white/ivory to light and not dark brown.Some were even oblong and had nigella seeds.

As her car speeds through the lanes of the busy metro she still peers through the window and tries to spot the Beescoot in the jars of the roadside tea stalls. But all she can make out is the perfectly rounded, golden brown bakery biscuits. Oh yes she has tried them but they are nowhere near to what BEESCOOT was.

Those beescoot days were replaced by serious convent education and soon all the fun laughter and all those games were gone with the wind.Her elder brother had warned her menacingly that if she is even seen around the gate she would be clobbered well and no one would come to her rescue.Not even Ma as even Ma was not in favour of her mixing with the ruffians of the road.
Although her being seen on the road with urchins stopped once and for all, her love for Beescoot never ebbed rather it grew in it's magnitude in a way that she would ask her kid sister to go to the chai shop and get it for her.

A rupee coin was given to the kid sister with specific instructions like, ''Each Beescoot is for 10 paise so bring 5 oval ones and 5 round ones."
The kid sister 10 years younger to her would nod with sincere obedience and run these errands for her for a long time till the kid was grown up enough to venture out of the house gate unescorted.

Later the job was done in utmost secrecy by the maid who would come to wash the dishes.This to prevent all that reprimand that would turn into shameful bashing as Beescoot was the most unhealthy thing to eat.
The dough of which was kneaded by foot and had maggots which would be baked along with the dough.So one could be affected with afflictions of all kind.
But she continued eating them with relish as her kid sister watched in amazement at how her didi would dip these bland stuff into water and gobble the 8 beescoots reading the Indrajaal Comics...Phantom. Two beescoots were given to the kid only to be returned to her graciously with an honest,"Didi if you want you can have these too.i don't like them so much as you do."
Never did she ever fall ill because of the so called junk she ate on a regular basis. In fact of all the 4 kids that Mr Singh had this sandy haired bonnie girl of his never fell ill ever.The only ailment she had as a kid was just a bout of tonsilitis which was taken care with a few days of pills and some throat drops that tasted terrible.

Oh yes there there was this day while she was in college doing her graduation in Economics and her kid sister was in 5th grade.The kid sister came rushing out to the balcony at hearing the most strange yell from her didi.
Her didi was yelling out to the seller that was seen passing on the road.Trying desperately to get his attention and yelling at the top of her voice not a bit minding how her yell sounded or how she had invited glaring looks from the people of the colony who were finding this to be too odd from an English- educated- grown- up daughter of Mr Singh.
The kid sister who was very much into her convent English was truly so embarrassed at her didi.How so vulgur didi sounded and that particular day kid sister sulked because she was too young , too obedient and too polite to vent it out on her elder sister.Some people in the colony were looking at her sister, her didi with so much of amusement as she yelled and now all these people knew what cheap stuff her didi ate.
It was much later that the kid sister told her didi of her intense feeling of shame. Only when shame was replaced by the feeling of humour about the entire scenario in perspective.

Today as they move about as inseperables with her didi full and mature enough to look like her mom to all those who don't know their true relationship, they laugh out aloud recollecting that incident and that typical shrill that sounded as if a rustic lady from the village was mispronouncing a very English word.Something that sounded so oddly funny.

And as they haunt now the chai shops searching the oval/round/oblong pale coloured stuff of yesteryears they still approach the jars longingly looking for what they still call BEESCOOT.Sometimes they get lucky and can be seen sitting on the terrace munching away to God's glory from a newspaper packet.The younger sister combining it with tea while the elder one still dipping  the stuff into what looks like water in a glass and both giving each other that warm smile...the kind that comes with understanding, satisfaction and happiness.

Meanings of some terms used :
Langdi taang- a game in which one has to hop on one leg and catch or touch the rest.
Keet keet- hop scotch.Squares drawn on the floor and a pebble used to mark and start from the first square and end on the ninth square all the time hopping on one leg and making a sound of keet keet with the mouth without drawing breadth.
Goollee danda-the rustic and very basic version of rustic cricket also known as gilli danda.
Chayan churee- The entire collection of broken bangles being first thrown in a small square on the ground and then bangle pieces to be picked out of the square singly with the help of one piece in such a way that a single piece is dragged out of the square without touching or moving any other piece.While throwing into the square even if one piece is out of the square you lose your chance.The winner would be the one who could collect the maximum pieces of bangles.
Budhiya kabbaddi-Kabbaddi in which one of the paticipants of the defending team would be the old lady who would be guarded in a circle. She had to be rescued sounding Kabbaddi kabbaddi without drawing breath.Meanwhile touching the rest who are guarding her and running back to your own team without getting caught before the midddle touch line. All those that have been touched sounding kabbaddi kabaddi without drawing breath would be considered out.If while trying the rescue one gets caught by the guards and is unable to come back to the parent team crossing the middle line then that person is out.
Cowrie- Sea shells used for this game invovled throwing the shells into the air and catching them in as many skillful combinations as possible.
Lattu-Top which is spinned with the help of a thin rope.
Didi- Elder sister

Image courtesy:
                       :cybershot photos of Yajnaseni (my niece)


  1. Generally the best kinds of food are the junk stuff... But love the nostalgic post :). And to think of it somebody always used to stop me from playing with urchins :P..

  2. Wonderful post. Could visualise the beescoot girl loud and clear. Enjoyed every bit of the write up. Keep it up Shivani!

  3. @Aakkash...Karrect! hundred percent.
    Parenthood is very different from childhood and in most cases history repeats itself.Let's see ur mileage on that laters :)
    Thank you sonna.Remember this for the time being Ma's are all the same.

  4. @Tandarin thank you for understanding Beescoot and the girl who still loves eating those.:)

  5. i remember once u told me 15p ka teen tho lana do lamba ake gol.this was one hot summer aftternoon.this was an innocent post.

  6. @Gauri thank you kid sis for going through the post which very much has you.Yeah what you said could be right...that was just one example of those specific instructions.
    The bigger ones were for 10 paise remember.Maybe that summer afternoon i had asked for the smaller ones.Sry i asked you to go on a hot summer cruel of me :(

  7. gr8 shivani-ur beescoot post-i simply loved it-i can relate to it, belonging to the same place-beescoot-hahaha!!!

  8. @Rashmi Thank you so much.Did u ever eat the ones i am talking about?If u did u might've have added something more about them i guess.Words sometime fail me when i want to explain.i still feel i have not been able to express the taste of beescoot to match what i adored them for.:)

  9. Can taste the beescoot,hear the clack of the goollee's and see the sandy haired girl with dusty knees.

  10. @Anonymous thank you for visiting my blog and seeing the girl at her best true self.
    Be kind enough to visit again.Shall wait to hear more from you.:)

  11. @Chandra Vir thank you so much for going down memory lane with me.At least now you should know why i am always refusing to eat Biscuits and settle for something else.:)

  12. this is beauty of childhood.we do what we want n what we like.As we grow we start wearing MASK.Good to remember such period.

  13. @Anonymous thank you for reading through and enjoying Beescoot.
    Regarding the Mask... oh so truly said.

  14. I love this post shivani. Makes me think of some of the things I was attached to as a child when i visited my nana- nani's house. The ripe imli with kala namak on it and the paachak - titally from roadside and hiding from adults. But that is the best part - sneeking into the house so that noone finds out.

  15. @Mini ohh don't tell me but did you know that the pachak wala thela is extinct now...this time i looked everywhere but although the beescoot is still going strong wonder how the pachak vanished.Nah none of those that you get in the grocery stores can compare to the imli and kala namak nor those soft pellets with the sweet and sour taste...actually you should see me drooling now...mebbe sneaking and eating in hiding gave it that extra kick.
    loved and agree to all you have to say and thanks for stopping by.

  16. Hey Shivani! Good one.
    After reading this, I am sure you will know what a danta 'beeskoot' is. The longish ones sold in tea shops in Patna. I have bought them till very recently and munched with pleasure during my home visits. I always thought that may be I have weird taste as no one else seemed to do so. Now, I have found a pal :))

  17. @Anita Praveen...sure i do relish those too...haha danta beescoot.U bet we r beescoot pals :) Thank you for going through my beescoot cravings and making me feel all the more awesome about danta and others...