Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If you have ever lived outside your home, then you must have received atleast one care package, or atleast yearned for one. Home, in this context, could be just across town, in another city, or in a different country.
It seems just like yesterday, when a girl was yearning for something from her home barely two months after she had been away, far away. Something more tactile than the letters and phone calls. So she asked for a packet of bakarwadis, and a comb, and another small thing or two, to be sent via someone she knew who was travelling from India. The comb was something her mind had prototyped based on what she had used in India, but could not find one like it anywhere within her limited mobility and resources. And the bakarwadis, were just so out of question of being available anywhere around her, but one of her favorite things. So she waited for the things to arrive with great anxiety, and it was a happy day when they did. Just in case you were wondering whether she went around with uncombed hair until then, she did have other combs and brushes, but not the type she wanted.
She was to find out soon enough that the person who brought these for her had made some nakhras (in this context nakhra means fuss, but nakhra conveys it much better) about their bags being too full, and agreed to take only some of the things. When she found that out, she was disappointed, and even a little angry, and from then onwards decided to make the postal system her friend. Food items weren't suitable for getting by mail, but she made peace with that. Regardless, it was a long time before she ever asked anyone to get anything for her when they were travelling back, and even when she did, it was only if a certain thing was really important and unavailable, and only to people she knew well enough to know that they would not mind. Eventually, there were regular trips back home, with long lists of what was needed to be brought back, and there was no need to rely on anyone else.
I have realized that a lot of people are somewhat touchy about carrying things for people, and I understood it better after I had to turn down a package or two myself. Those were times when I was really going over the allowed baggage limit, and I felt bad about it, but I had no choice. Years later when I think about it, I concede that perhaps that person too really had no space in their luggage, or that there were closer relatives and friends that had to be obliged, and so perhaps it was not really a nakhara on their part.
One thing I know is that no matter how many years pass by, it is still as exciting and delightful to open a box that has come from home. Like it did recently, bearing lots of wonderful things, thanks to a close relative who happily brought them on her trip back from India, and promptly mailed it to me. In the box lined with styrofoam peanuts, lay several goodies, each wrapped neatly in white paper, telling me how much care was put into it, and for that, I really thank her.
A peek into some of the things that were in the box, each of these exquisitely delicious.
Top: left - bAkarwaDi, right - phaNas sATh
Bottom: left - chocolate burfi, right - pedhA
The phaNas sATh is made out of jackfruit from the ancestral backyard. I might have seen it being made eons ago, but do not remember exactly - the flesh of the jackfruit is pureed and cooked down, then dried out into flat sheets and cut. I am not exaggerating when I say that it tasted just like the jackfruit I have eaten from that tree in the past.
The sATh and the burfi were made at home by my mother, and the other things were bought from appropriate sources.