Monday, 16 September 2013

Snippets of city folk visiting the village- train memory 1

Like most other Indians who had settled in Mumbai, my parents too used to travel back home once a year to their home towns and villages. For me as a child, anything outside my colony was NOT home.
The colony even had it's own smell, believe you me. The smell of the fish market, of the peanuts getting roasted at the stall near the bus stop, of the milk centre, the sound of the church bells. They all reassured and comforted me.
But, I had to go to the village with my parents as my siblings were older and independent. They especially didn't need me stuck to them, did they? Those days we travelled by sleeper trains and the travel from Mumbai to Kerala took nearly three whole days. Since my parents weren't rich and were also concerned about the quality of food sold on the way, we usually had a stock of food for the whole journey. The stock included tamarind rice, curd rice mixed with mango pickle, fried banana chips, chaklis and chivda. If we were really lucky, there were a couple of packets of Glucose biscuits. Amma used to wait for the chayas (teas) on the train and the water had to be refilled in the empty bottles once it had run out. Other than that, money was hardly ever spent on anything. As a rule, if Daddy said 'NO' once, even dancing on our heads would not get the man to change his mind. Which reminds me that he had much more willpower than me with my kids!
 I have some very funny memories from some of these journeys. I remember we were getting back to Mumbai from the village. Having spent three days watching several hawkers pass by had been tough for me. Of course, I tried coaxing Mummy to buy me a sweet or some 'delicious looking' savory. But, deep down I knew it wouldn't be granted. So, I watched other families sitting next to us buying and eating all sorts of fresh food while I knew I wouldn't go hungry with the heavy rice that sat in the steel container next to Mummy. But it's not the same thing, is it?
So I just put out my bed, which was actually the backrest of the seat allotted to my father and went to sleep. Sometime later, I felt someone try and wake me up. I resisted, as I didn't want to wake up and get tempted again. Then I heard my Daddy call me and I could feel a wonderful draft of fried food wake me to my senses. I looked at his hands and there wrapped in the standard newspaper pack were four, four! not just a single plate of two but a double plate of four steaming meduvadas staring back at me.
And Daddy's fantastic smile offering them to me. I looked from the food to Dad,to the food again and then turned to my Amma and said " Who gave this to him?". I just couldn't believe my lucky stars that Daddy actually spent some extra money on outside food. The smile on my parents faces while we three shared those four vadas still brightens my day.

PS: They were absolutely right to not feed us such food regularly!

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