Friday, July 14, 2006

A Second meal!

There was a tradition of having lunch at about 10.00 AM in Tamil Brahmin homes skipping breakfast. There would be an elaborate ritual of tiffin at 4.00 PM either preceded or followed by coffee. Dinner would be a relatively simple affair and very often curd rice and pickle would do. This arrangement suited office goers as well as school going children. The ladies in the joint family also preferred this arrangement since it gave them time enough to pursue their hobbies like sewing, trying out new recipes or even for a game of ‘pallanguzhi’ as Usha pointed out in her post. Come vacations, the children in the family visiting their grandparents, would be treated to what they called a ‘second meal’. Wow! The memory makes my mouth water even now.

Around two in the afternoon when children would be done with plucking mangoes and climbing trees an elderly aunt or grandmother would call the children for ‘rendandharam’ or a second meal not to be confused with ‘rendandhaaram’ or second wife! She would mix a big bowl of curd and rice and keep beside it a smaller bowl of south Indian specialities like ‘milagu kuzhambu’ or ‘vattal kuzhambu’ as side dish. Children of all ages would form a circle around her. They would be given a ‘vadumangai’ or tender mango to ‘bite’! Narrating interesting stories and anecdotes about various family members, the lady in question would ask the children to stretch out their palms and place in it a small ball of curd rice. The children would dig out a small depression in the rice ball and a little of the side dish would be placed in it. All this was done with care. The amount of curd rice served would be proportional to the size of the child’s mouth so that it could be swallowed at one go. Children would end up eating twice their normal quota when food was served in this manner. As children we never got tired of listening to stories about ‘girl seeing ‘ ceremonies of our aunts and how a burglar was cleverly chased away by our grandfather etc. etc. We would often ask for a repetition of the same stories.

Times have changed now and these simple pleasures are no longer available to kids in their pre-teens. Vacations are taken up with summer camps and tours rather than a visit to one’s native place. And of course TV serials and cartoon shows have taken over from the few grand parents who may be willing to narrate stories to their grandchildren. As for parents, in their anxiety to avail the best for their children they remain a confused lot


passerby55 said...

A grand post!...

You sound so much of USha in you. She too like you can touch the simplest threads of many lives here.

MY Grandmaa...@ ten served porridge and raw tender mango(this was preserved (She told me) for a couple of years and the porridge was cooked of rice reaped from her own fields. It was cooked on slow fire in earthern Pots. Loved the aroma and made me feel so hungry

At two (in the afternoon)a second serving with fresh sea water fish curry and Brown rice was served. It would be a yummy meal with grandmaa sumtimes feeding with her own hands.... how she managed make us eat so much I will never know.

GRandpa and many others were farmers so these timings suited best.

these days kids are in their own room with their tv sets or computer games to entertain them with a plate of meal, half eaten and hardly digested.

I loved reading this post, they way i loved grandmaa, her meals and her stories ... keep posting!

Archana Bahuguna said...

HG ji, I ve been reading your posts. You are a prolific writer. Really liked this one.

In fact, even our generation enjoyed pretty much the heaven of being with grandparents during hols, eating amazing food, and chattering away or listening to stories, while 10-12 of us cuddled in the same bed. The dissociations have started happening from the current generation. Forget summer camps, students 17-18yrs have summer jobs, where they try to work hard to earn some money which they never get to spend due to lack of time. We are becoming security freaks. I think our future looks a little sad. :-) :-) Hope there is hope.

Priya Ramachandran said...

Yes Mother, you're right. There was so much fun in the simpler pleasures of life - climbing trees, stealing mangoes/flowers from someone else's garden.

I know the younger generation of today tend to watch TV more - but some of it is our doing. We're also using TVs as babysitters. At least from my own experience, when I get back from work, and your adorable grandchild starts making her demands, I too switch on TV just to get her off my back for a few minutes. And those few mins becomes an hour or two. I don't know what I can do, short of cutting down my working hours.

That's the biggest puzzle that's come from women empowerment. We're fulfilled ourselves professionally, but in ways small and large, our kids get affected.

Hip Grandma said...

passerby55:Simple pleasures like a shared meal are becoming rare commodities.I promised my son and daughter, when I was with them last week,that I would serve food to them and my grand daughter the way my mom did to them. But for some reason it did not materialise.
Archana: What we can do is to arrange for occasions that simulate yester years at least in part.
Priya: Don't feel bad.Just include one such meal during weekends.

Usha said...

oh those lip smacking lunches with curd rice and vadu mangai! And sometimes they were served on dried banana leaves ( claeed sarugu) which imparted its own flavour to the getti curd rice!
Whoever eats rendamdaram these days - with anorexic children dieting from the time they are 8 and 10!
I feel sorry for them for missing out on thye simple joys we had.

Hip Grandma said...

Usha:with a variety of snacks available in the market and TV advertisements tempting them the current batch of growing children may not even beleive when we talk of the pleasure in our 'second meal'

The Visitor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Visitor said...

Goofed up on the url :(

There is a nice write-up on Tam brams which you might like.
PS: You could add links to other posts from your posts when you refer to them. example you could link to Usha's post in your statement:

// 'pallanguzhi’ as Usha pointed out in her post. //

Linking posts general format:
<a href="URL">Text_to_be_linked</a>

Nisha said...

hi gmom,

recently chanced upon your blog through a friend's friend's is my habit,i started reading from the very first ur style of writing.this post particularly brought back memories of my grandmother and meal rituals like the one you've described here.

was reading ur blog while on a lone sunday shift and the nostalgia it brought made me feel really good.
keep writing :-)

Winnie the poohi said...

man you made me remember all those summer times! :D :D