Wednesday, June 07, 2006

And today's special is........

I had chowmein for lunch today. My Mom made it. Just like the old days when she would prepare lunch for me everyday. For years and years. All through school and college. I would always take lunch from home. And unlike some girls in school who got thick slices of bread with a layer of butter, hard-boiled egg drizzled with salt and pepper and a slightly soft, spotty banana in their "tiffin box" (that's what we used to call our lunch box), my Mom always made sure I had the most delicious meals in mine. My Mom's a perfectionist. And she believed that I needed to eat well to survive the long hours outside home. And since I was a picky eater she always prepared lunch the way I liked it with things I enjoyed eating. I know what you are thinking. Yes, I was a pampered kid. Which meant I never opened my tiffin box to find a cold mound of Maggi that had taken the shape of the box and needed to be sliced into pieces with a knife!

The flip-side of having gourmet lunch was everybody in school was aware of the contents of my tiffin box. Which made a whole bunch of them flock to my side to partake of the meal. And that doesn't mean during lunch break. That meant as soon as the first class would be over. In the interval between departure of one teacher and arrival of the next I'd have some already hungry girls checking into my tiffin box and quickly devouring my ham sandwiches. Which meant by the time we would have the official lunch break (some four classes down the line) I would have a near empty tiffin box with very little food for myself. And the sad part about this whole ritual was that I could never eat the tiffin these other people brought with them because I really couldn't bring myself to eating slices of bread or cold Maggi. It came to a point when one of my class-mates in LH stopped bringing lunch because she would gorge on everyone else's lunch and have her fill. When my Mom started finding out about the misdirected food trail she started providing me with lunch enough to feed four people. But alas, I'd still be holding an empty tiffin box at lunch break. Because no matter how much food I'd carry with me, it would never be enough to feed an army of hungry school girls.

So I spent my entire school life with very little to eat for lunch inspite of carrying an extremely large tiffin box brimming with all kinds of goodies. By the time I went to college I realized it was sort of uncool to carry a large tiffin box with food while the others would be enjoying all the forbidden delights of the college canteen. So I convinced my Mom that we did not have a proper lunch break and we had to eat in the canteen when we managed to find time. Mom was skeptical but I think she understood my need to grow out of the tiffin box. Those were the years when I learnt to enjoy greasy dimer devil, super jhhaal chowmein and gorom cha. So gone were the days of lugging around my tiffin box.

And now after all these years I get to eat Maayer haate banano chowmein (chowmein made by my Mom) for lunch. And I get to eat all of it. By myself. I savored every bit of it and licked the box clean. Gosh it felt good!

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52 Comments:

Blogger Grafxgurl said...

we had two huge australians over to share a meal with us last night.. and i made my "agarwal-famous" fish fry and appam and chicken stew... my mom has lost her patience to do the slow cooking way.. so i did it.. and it felt so good... meahhaaa. im getting better than my mom....my mom used to cook great meals when i was younger and stil living at home.. the minute i moved out.. my dad complained that he was now getting all kinds of rabbit food to eat coz my mom couldnt be bothered with cooking long winded meals like she used to..so now...while im at home.. i do the cooking.. lol ...both my parents are sure enjoying THAT!!! plus coz im such a cooking addict.. i love it too...

12:04 AM  
Blogger erebus said...

My mom used to make the best "tiffin" as well.. I used to sell it to my class amtes. And then use the money to buy egg-chops.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

Lucky you! Enjoy the moments.

12:45 AM  
Blogger True Blue Guy said...

Lovely. Very well written. I'm so sure all the years of waiting were well worth the lunch :-)

cheers :-) !!!!

1:28 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Oooh, I remember my school lunches too. My mom gave me some really nice stuff as well...I especially remember these yummy egg rolls she would make...soft spicy and delicious!! And yes I know exactly what you mean about the food never sufficing :( very sad.

Although I did continue with the "tiffin" in college as well, couldnt eat the coconut oil soaked Malayali style food that our canteen offered. Mom's chowmein anyday!!

2:33 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

must admit, feel a tiny tinge of jealousy and sadness whenever i come and read in ur blog abt ur family. bit like a stray street waif, standing outside a brightly lit and warmed house, and looking in on the family inside, listening to the laughter and voices echo inside :)

7:18 AM  
Blogger ubergeek said...

Sounds xctly like what I went through. Except that I hvn't had my mom pack lunch in about 10 years. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I could go back.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Cacophoenix said...

Thanks for walking in on my blog. Being the true Indian that I am, I have love for a whole load of things which come from all parts of India. Some of the best ones are you Gorom cha, rosogolla, jelabi, sandhesh and Ganguly. Vissiting your blog is liek a pleasure ride for me. My sis recently moved out of Bengal and your blog made her reminisce about a whole lot of things. Thanks a bunch.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Kele Panchu said...

My mom never made tiffin for me. Like your friends in school, I also used to check into other students' boxes. In return, I gave them protection and included them in my gang. :) Although, Panchuginni sometimes makes 'tiffin' for me nowadays.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Rohan Kumar said...

Is there something universal abt Mummies or is there some other reason why did ost threw me years back into my own school days and how I became the master f ceremonies by default due to Mom's lunchbox

10:34 PM  
Blogger Seashells said...

This post reminds me of my mom's chowmein and my dad's chunky maggi... both at the same time... I've been on both ends of this spectrum :)

1:43 AM  
Blogger Medha.. said...

I remember my mom sending me daal, bhaat and bhindi bhaaja or something or the other with the dabbawala when i was a schoolkid in bombay. I miss those days;when we school kids used to run down to get our dabbas during lunch, sit together and share our lunches.... totally miss those days! :)

4:59 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

You won't believe this, I'm eating the same as I read this! But made by Rimi, I'm afraid. Not Rimi's mum :-(

And oh god, the girls who brought food from home. You have my belated sympathies, M, you really do. these other girls would wait to jump on them as soon as the teacher looked away! Jaa taa. But I like cold Maggi if you've stirred in butter when you were making it. I don't know why, I just like it.

9:07 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ grafxgurl sometimes it feels good to be able to treat your parents as kids. Enjoy! But I'm dying to know....what is "agarwal-famous" fish fry? Sounds delicious though.
@ erebus you scheming, devilish kid you! You sold your mom's hardwork? did you give her a cut from the profit? How much did it sell for?
@ priya thanks! I am. aar der week moto :(
@ t.b.g. they sure were.
@ ron now you have me drooling. egg roll. bari giye abdar korte hobe ;)
@ prerona you not only write the most amazing evocative posts on your blog, but you also convey the same depth and emotion in your comments. How do you do it? you make me so envious. Really. And please don't be a "stray street waif". Do come into the warm house and we'll share it all with you. promise.
@ ubergeek I know what you mean. It truly is worth the wait.
@ cacophoenix thanks for coming back here and I'm glad you like it.
@ kele panchu ganng-baji? in school? kon school? must remind myself to keep my kids away from those schools :))
Panchuginni pushiye dichhe ekhon?
@ rohan I like the master of ceremonies bit. however for me it was more like being robbed.
@ seashells good for you. Then you know:)
@ medha oh my God....you really are back! Nice seeing you here after all these months. And I've heard about the legendary dabbawalas. We didn't have that in Cal. At least not then.
@ rimi look who's here :)And eating chowmein too! I hate maggi even when it is freshly made and steaming hot. It has starch screaming all over it. Don't like any kind of instant noodles. But I miss the chowmein that they sell on the streets of Cal. Have you had the one they sell in Minibox near Deshapriya park. Awesome!

9:34 AM  
Blogger erebus said...

2 bucks... 2.5 for pasta

12:22 PM  
Blogger Kausum said...

This post reminds me of school days as a raider. My mom used to give me good stuff to eat, but the thrill of raiding was awesome. Our school had a policy of keeping foodstuffs and water bottles outside the class so no one snacks in it. And me and couple of friends were 'out'- standing in some periods, where it was easy to bait the teacher and then go out as the only punishment. Out there, with food and water of not only our class but also of other classes. It was just awesome. And in the lunch period, ofcourse we had food which we never shared. :D

12:56 PM  
Blogger Rimi said...

Nope, I haven't. And look who's here er maane ki shuni??? I always read your blog! Hrrumph! :P

6:27 PM  
Blogger Fosix said...

lucky you... lucky you...

7:24 PM  
Blogger Ratna said...

You make me feel nostalgic. My lunch was done in the first class itself. All my 5 years of Architecture, I used to eat junk food from the canteen, while our hostel guys savoured my mom's cooking.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

Just dropped by to say thanks.

1:09 AM  
Blogger 4WD said...

I lost all my tiffin boxes. So my mom decided I had to eat in the school canteen. So i would line up everyday with a steel plate, get food served with a big ladle, say ``our father dadadada'' and eat. It was always surprisingly good... i always took seconds. except for the jelly.

Once a month, my best friends mom would make us pizzas (which were a rarity when we were in third). But sam would only give them to me if i let him punch me.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

Sigh I miss those days and I Miss Amma more now, after reading your post :(

Lovely Post!
I too was a picky eater in school and hated to eat cold Sambhar rice, so it made life relatively easy for Amma who had t pack only curd rice and veggies for me most days. And I was damn happy with it :)

Now i eat hot sambhar rice for lunch and still it has no charm :(

9:56 AM  
Blogger jhantu said...

In my school days i did the mean act of trading mayer haather bhaat and mach (yea i brought tht fr lunch) and almost made a fortune

1:42 PM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

I tagged you :) Makes me nostalgic for the days when we would polish off our tiffin in the first period.

1:53 AM  
Blogger DD said...

i was so jealous of people who used to bring good food for tiffin. throughout the twelve years in school, i used to bring pauruti and makhon to school :(.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Maru Marauder said...

Heh....never found the need to carry lunch myself...theres always so much doing the rounds in class...

2:45 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ erebus hoe many egg chops did that buy :)?
@ kausum you naughty boy....raider! But nice tactic.
@ rimi you do? I thought you had deserted me :(
@ fosix yeah!
@ ratna I know what you mean. The canteen food sucks.
@ priya hope things worked out well.
@ 4wd thanks for stopping here. And yes losing tiffin boxes can be painful if mom decides to ration food.
@ kumari I know. Food always tastes so much better when mom makes it.
@ jhantu all you boys were such mercenaries!
@ dreamcatcher uh-oh. I'll get to it when I get a chance.
@ dd the quintessential pauruti and makhon! I weep for you.
@ maru marauder thanks for coming here. Looks like we went hungry because of people like you!

10:31 AM  
Blogger GettingThere said...

This post brought back memories from my school days. I had a friend who used to bring yummy food. On many occasions some of us raided her lunch box before the lunch break and left her a whole lot of "nothing". One day she took a look at her empty lunch box and started crying - I feel bad to this day. I never touched her (or anyone else's) lunch box after that day. Then I had another friend who brought in an extra lunch box for me on days her mom cooked somehting I especially liked. I miss those days and those friends :(

Hope you are feeling better now. Keep us updated on the serology results.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Shankari said...

Your blog brought back a lot of memories. Very well written!

6:13 PM  
Blogger sapna said...

what a sweet cute post! :)

2:46 AM  
Blogger karmic_jay said...

Nice post. Ye you were pampered, but what the heck so was I. Although no gourmet tiffins for me. All I know was there were no maggi or buttered breads.
Obviously chowmein for you is comfort food and nothing can beat that:)

7:55 AM  
Blogger Ghetufool said...

lovely one. i swear it was indeed lovely.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

ohh, how u brought back those horrific memories of bread and butter and spotted soddy bananas :(

2:18 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ gettingthere thanks for asking. I'm much better now and still waiting for the serology results. That reminded me of my closest friend in school who used to bring idlis and dosas for lunch but her mom would make fried rice for me because I was not that fond of south indian food.
@ shankari thank you!
@ pearl thanks.
@ karmic_jay so what was your lunch? I have another week's worth of pampering before my parents return to India.
@ ghetufool coming from you, that is a compliment. Thanks!
@ bonatellis were you one of those long suffering buttered bread eaters or one who raided the more priviledged ones?

7:46 AM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

is it a situation of either/or ... I could have been both :)

1:02 PM  
Blogger Sagnik Nandy said...

lucky you - my mom is the bestest cook in the World except when it comes to make chowmein - now Bengalis have something called chow that they make which makes it very different from chow-mein and that is what my mom makes - there is noodle, vegetables, chicken and everything but lacks the Asian flavour. She justifies it by saying that she doesn't use "ajina moto" and soya sauce for health reasons andthat is the reason - but whatever - aami maa chowmein korlei bhoiy peye jai :D

1:22 PM  
Blogger True Blue Guy said...

I turn my back for a few days and you have vanished again

12:13 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ bonatellis oh okay :))
@ sagnik lol...my mom says the same about ajinomoto. But I still love her chowmein/chow/noodles :)
@ t.b.g. I'm still here. Haven't had a chance to write much since I've been trying to spend a little time with my parents before they leave. Will be back in full force next week. Promise!

7:34 AM  
Blogger karmic_jay said...

@ karmic_jay so what was your lunch? I have another week's worth of pampering before my parents return to India.

Hmm darn I am on the spot now. :)
I think it used to be mostly roti and an assortment of veggies and always a lil bit of sweet. Sometimes mom would bring me the tiffin at lunch (that was only during kindergarten and a cpl of grades). I was such a picky eater as a kid, all that has changed now.

I love your blog you should post more often :)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Ekta said...

My folks are coming today and from tom am gonna get mom's food too!!
yummuyyy!!

11:44 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ karmic_jay thank you so much! I will post more often. I'm just a bit tied down at the moment. And as far as roti and veggies....I love that too. I'll eat anything now, as long as someone else makes it for me.
@ ekta yeah for you! Have a great time with your folks. And thanks for stopping by my blog.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Kausum said...

I am hating this blog and all the people who constantly remind me of having food cooked by theirs Mum's .. Feeling hungry and then have to decide between Maggi and Top Ramen which I need to cook myself. Atleast guys be decent enough to share you lunches, dinners with me :D

3:50 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kausum
"I am hating this blog" *sob sob* ...too brokenhearted to even say anything in my defense.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Generally_Speaking said...

Ah Maan ke haath ka cooking is always the best. My personal favourites were scrumptious sandwitches made up of a myriad number of fillings, seasoned with unconditional love. By the way, her chowmein is ultra tasty too :)

11:17 AM  
Blogger Kausum said...

I was hoping, that you will feel sad and then invite me for lunch/dinner ... (I mean call me for either one and I will stay for the other) But you are only feeling sad and invitation is not on cards I see ... :D

9:04 PM  
Blogger nomita said...

Ive been away from home just a month now and am already missing mom-made food..a LOT! So happy that your mom is with you. Now your house must realllly feel like home :)

2:21 AM  
Blogger Bidi-K said...

chowmein, maar haathe toiri...now i am hungry!!!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

You just narrated MY story! Bless moms and their delicious tiffin boxes... yup, that's what we called it too. And now when my mom visits me, I still carry lunch cooked by her for the one week she is around. Great, isnt it :)

3:22 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ generally_speaking I guess it is that unconditonal love that makes things so tasty!
@ kausum you are welcome anytime but mom's leaving in two days, so you have to hurry.
@ nomita it has been sheer bliss for the last month or so. But unfortunately all good things come to an end.
@ bidisha I know what you mean. I will be missing my folks a lot once they return to Cal.
@ casa it sure is great. I made the most of it too!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Kausum said...

Awww ... only 2 more days. Guess I will have to take a raincheck.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Kausum said...

Btw, I remembered some incident from school wrt to tiffins and raiding. Just linked this blog on my blog. Hope its fine.

9:04 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

I read that. Thanks!

11:45 AM  

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