Saturday, June 16, 2007

MY PRECIOUS STONE

THIS WAS THE FIRST PIECE I WROTE 3 YEARS BACK WHEN I DECIDED TO TRY MY HAND IN WRITING.Okay, it got rejected by the magazine that I sent it to.But it still remains my favorite.Since my readers have learnt to accept me as I am, I've decided to present it as my 100th post to mark the end of a year of 'happy blogging'. Thank you my dear readers for encouraging me.I'd be a big zero were it not for you guys.

Thirty years back every south Indian home had a hand grinder manually operated by the lady of the house to prepare mouth watering delicacies like dosai, Idli and vadai for the family. We were no exception. Ours actually belonged to my great grand mother in law and my husband had developed a special personal attachment to it. He often recalled the manner in which it was transported it to Jamshedpur when he was a child and how the transportation had cost his father double the actual price of the grinder. He spoke fondly of the wonderful service rendered by the grinder-the quality of its stone which did not chip off easily and the quantity of rice it would grind at one go etc. The lady members of his family including myself who had spent hundreds of man-hours grinding several kilograms of rice and dal to feed the family were conveniently forgotten. I finally decided to call it a day and decided to purchase and electrified model of a wet grinder. I felt that my problems would end. Little did I know that they had just begun?

I gave myself a pat on my back when I managed to convince my husband that I was getting on in age and if we did not purchase an electrical grinder his favorite south Indian dishes like dosai and idli would stand cancelled from our breakfast menu. He was perfectly at liberty to order for their home delivery from a local restaurant but I was not going to “hand grind” the batter. He bought the electrical version albeit half-heartedly and spoke at length on the merits of hand grinding whenever he could, right from the physical exercise it provided to the increase in electricity bills on account of the new monster. I slept through these lecture sessions or chose to develop selective hearing impediment as per my convenience. He would make a sour face and I would turn a “blind eye”. I was glad to have my way and he could rave and rant as much as he wanted. Unfortunately that was not easy. “Idli’s don’t taste good” he’d announce, ”could be the quality of rice” I’d retort. “What proportion did you follow?” He was not one to let go.” The same as before.” would be my answer and this would go on and on as if I was a novice and he my coach. After all I could not be deaf, dumb and blind at the same time! So I decided to ’give away’ the old grinder hoping that out of sight would perhaps put it out of mind! I deliberately use the term because neither was I competent enough to sell it nor would my husband hear of fixing a price for this piece of “precious” stone. He looked so upset and appalled at my suggestion that I felt like the witch in fairy tales who troubled good children.

I started looking out for a prospective customer who could offer a home to my superannuated grinder and around the same time I realized that my daughters had reached their marriageable age. I succeeded in getting them married within a year but it looked as if our precious stone would remain my companion for life. I tried convincing everyone including my present and former servants, our launderer, young brides who had budgetary constraints and needy ladies who expressed the remotest desire to become financially self dependent. I offered to pay for its transportation including the charge for “downloading” it from our third floor apartment. I transferred it to the best balcony in the house so that passers by would be tempted to own it. Finally I did manage to find a person to take it after confirming that I would not charge him for it. The more difficult task of convincing my husband that his ancestral property was going into good hands took me a month. The hour long interview that he took of the future owner of the grinder, making sure that he realized its worth, filled me with pangs of guilt and remorse for the next two months. I still expect it to be returned with thanks any day so do not be surprised if I try convincing you of the merits of this archaic piece. I know it by heart from what I’ve heard. Remember I only feigned selective deafness!

20 comments:

Altoid said...

:), Congrats HHG on your 100th post, and prayers that the stone doesnt come back like a bad penny :). Hope you are back from your vacation and we get to see more of your posts.

--altoid

Monika said...

he he :) congrats for the 100th post... its a great thing, i really enjoy reading all ur posts...

and i wish for u that it doesnt come back. though on one side i agree that the taste that u get with hand grinded ones u simply dont get it in the wet grinder. I really look forward to visting my husband's village where his grandma hand grinds the batter still and the result is yummy idlies...

hope u are enjoying ur vacation to the fullest

Coffee said...

Hahaha.... that was a good one!! :) Why in the world did the magazine have to reject it!!! Its very well written. :) Congrats for the 100th post. :)

Gauri said...

Hi HHG

You've been tagged with The Thinking Blogger Award. The URL is http://tiny-tidbits.blogspot.com/2007/06/thinking-blogger-award_18.html.

Highly possible you may have been tagged with this before HHG, but fact remains that I do deeply respect you and your highly thought provoking blog. So tagged you all over again :-)

Gauri

Usha said...

Hahaha. The eulogies on the merits of hand ground batter and the softness of the idlis that came out of it are all too familiar in my household too and yes, I used the same selective deafness to counter it.
Precious stone indeed - I am willing to have it anytime ( Will use it as a show piece of course). Guess what you could mount a decorated pot on top of the stone and grow some plant and put it to good use if ever it is returned!

Congratulations on the 100th - we have loved each one of them for their content, the style and the positive energy you infuse into them.Thank you!

Velu Nair said...

Ah! Good to see u back, Hphop!!
Ur 100th post made quite an interesting read!

thx!!
:)

Just like that said...

he he Congrats on your 100th post.

Know the preciousness of the stone you're talking about.

The one in Mom's house is now used by us a stool in our backyard- an excellent, overturned, antique bit of furniture. Lol.

Sometimes I wonder at the energy of the ladies from days past, who turned out so many appetising idlis, dosas, uzhundu vadas, parippu vadas.. We kids used to try our hand at grinding for fun.
It was remarkably efficient, albiet a remarkably slower process compared to the machines of today, and cleaning it was a tougher task than grinding, I feel..

We also had an uruli, in which we used to grind rice powder, and of course the ammikkal to grind coconut on. The ammikkal is still there, the uruli has no doubt been 'gifted'.

Your post brings back precious memories...

Sunita said...

Congratulations on your 100th post. Our Urli was also given away to a needy family(who would buy it anyway) and we were shifting like vagabonds so carrying it around wasn't a very great idea

itchingtowrite said...

congrats on the 100th. nice piece of story- wonder how it cud get rejected....

Pingu said...

Congrats on ur 100th post gmom!
Very well-written!
Reminded me of the ammi kallu we had in r house. My mother used it for making chutneys and preferred to use it instead of r mixie for a very long time. It travelled with my parents from Madras-Delhi-Madras and followed us everytime we moved house. It now leads a peaceful, retired life in the loft! :)

Mahadevan said...

Idli and Dosai, made out of 'attukal' ground batter, certainly have a special flavour and silken touch. 'If you don't do well in your studies, you would be only grinding Rice and Ulud dal in a hotel', used to be the constant admonition and it worked wonders. Normally the entire afternoon session would be used for grinding and gossiping was a perfect foil to grinding.

A good topic for the hundredth post. Congratulations.

artnavy said...

CONGRATS!!Wish you another century and faster this time

i use a mixie and am trying to convince myself that we need a grinder ina family of 3 where only one eats idli!!

anyway i loved the post on MrsR- laugh at yourself- she must be one hell of a lady

pity u could not come over- next time anyway

Srijith Unni said...

Nicely written, Hip Hop granma..!

Congrats on your 100th post..!

have Fun, Take Care and God BLess!

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I am back to my niche after a break of 24 days and I must say that the trip was a hectic one.My mobile went berserk and remained unconnected for most of the time and with ITW's no. stored in it I could not even access it to have a small chat with her when i very much wanted to.Technology can never replace the human memory.lesson learnt by the experience.The house is crying for my attention so will be back to regular blogging in a day or two.Thanks for your responses and tho'I like to defy my husband I do agree that hand grinding as Mahadevan points out does allow a healthy amount of interaction-read gossip- among family members and a lot of sensitive issues were sorted out in the time spent during the process of grinding and cleaning of the precious stone before and after the so called tedious act.I don't think ladies of the previous generation had any objection to the hours put into it.

WhatsInAName said...

First of all... clap clap for hitting that century with style!

Secondly, I could relate to your pathos and guilt pangs because that is precisely what I have done too some 3-4 yrs back :( The point however is that it had been lying untouched with me for past 10 yrs. So, when I shifted, decided to give it to someone who could actually use it !

Your article touched a chord!

vishesh said...

lol sorry for the very late comment...

congrats on the 100.....


been too busy with skl,and stuff...

anyway....i guess you shld hv changed the proportion....my mom's idlys are always the best......i donno but it is a family secret i guesss......its similar for the pickle stufff......it is truely admirable if ya ask me...in betwenn office work and so much other stufff....she makes all the pickels and even vathals!

hillgrandmom said...

Welcome back HHG and congrats on the 100th post. If your stone comes back, get a nice artificial lotus, put it into the centre of the attukal, and put a big round glass on top, of bigger diameter than the attukal and there you have an antique centre table.

passerby55 said...

Congrats Preeta on your 100th post.

I am fine and hope the same with you. I am in amidst some family resposibilities which would take some time to settle. Will get back as soon as possible.

Its nice to see your photograph. . Your picture is honest and true to your writings. You look much younger than i imagined. keep smiling and keep writing.

Puneet said...

hmmmm
How cud u grand ma give away such a nice and useful,causing natural excercise piece ....:-)
Being a man I can relate to the feelings of your husband, he would still be missing that taste but on the other side we have to understand the need to change and accept new things....
I wonder how similiar are the situations we all encounter in life ....
how selective deaf, focussed sight we achieve as per our convenience and comfort....

Baeautifully written .....

vegetablej said...

I notice your dear husband didn't love the stone enough to do the grinding himself. I should have thought that it would have been his just desserts if you taught HIM to make the dosa and then poured on the guilt if they weren't "just right". Wonder how long it would have taken him to switch to the electric version? Less than month I would think.

Very interesting article! Congratulations on your 100th post.:)