‘Papa’, Shubhi shook me, disturbing my day-dream, pulling me back to the present.
‘Do you want those snacks?’, she asked, pointing to the aaloo tikkis that were being served on the boat. My tummy grumbled…..it WAS well past lunch time, and the snacks looked delicious.
‘Yes, yes,’ I replied in double affirmative. ‘Let’s have some, Banaras is famous for these chaat!’
Shubhi looked unsure. She had a delicate disposition, and was rather choosy, and more disciplined than me in eating junk.
‘Its very tasty, and it is freshly made, so it should be healthy. Please do try some,’ I tried to persuade her to have at least some of the local delicacies being served on the boat – aaloo tikki, kachori, tamaatar chaat, poha, gulaab jaamun.
My other daughter, Meethi, had found a group of kids of about her age, and now sat with them playing games. I looked over and saw that she had already helped herself to a couple of plates of the food being served. There was a time when Meethi had difficulty mixing with children she did not know, but now the roles seemed to have been reversed. Shubhi was now an adolescent, and thus more reticent, and Meethi had come into her element. She was chatty, bubbly, convivial, and mixed with people easily.
Soon, I and Shubhi were sharing a plate of tomato chaat, and then a plate of poha, and then a plate of tikki till we were really full.
‘Bas Papa,’ she said. ‘I have had enough.’
I nodded, and got up to dispose the dona, or the small bowls made of leaves that had been used to serve the chaat. I have always wondered how environment friendly we Indians have always been; traditionally. Eating in bio-degradable plates made of leaves, and glasses made of baked mud has been the tradition ever since I or my elders can remember. And then the ‘modern’ way of eating in paper plates, or thermocol utensils, or plasticware was introduced, and we wrecked the environment.
The same has been true of our agriculture too. Traditionally, Indian farmers used cow-dung, mixed with bio-waste as manure, or khaad. Later, we were taught to use chemical fertilisers, and insecticides to improve our ‘primitive’ ways, and also improve the productivity of the fields. Well, we obliged! And now, the cow-dung manure is back and it is called compost or organic manure. It is quite an ‘in thing’, I am told. Even senior bureaucrats, and company executives do composting at home for their home garden, and eat ‘organic veggies’!! Wow! Life has indeed come a full circle!
To be continued…………….
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