Khaaja

December 17, 2011 By: chiya-pasaley


I couldn’t have imagined in my childhood that I would be writing liking this someday let alone be writing about a daily meal. Because if you really look at it from the height of a seven-thirteen year old, what is your meal, but something put in the table in front of you, which you should eat, be done with and get to other things.

My favorite meal from back in the days was Khaaja because it would always be something new, something different and tasty, rather than the drab dal, bhaat, tarkari I would have every morning and night. Coming back from school it was such an excitement to learn what was for today’s khaaja. Mummy tried to manage work a little earlier than my return home, so that after washing up and sitting down in front of the TV, a plate full of surprises would land in front of me.

Sometimes it would be disappointing, like chiura and dhoodh from the morning (into which I promptly added sugar). While other times it would be surprisingly wonderful, like pakoda.

When I was in the fifth Baba would give me around five/seven rupees for lunch. Right outside our school there was a small shop that sold among other things, lakhamari, two for five. The dying minutes of the fourth period before lunch held indefinite joy on those days. I changed to a bigger school for my next class.

There were two canteens that sold primarily samosas, pakodas and sandwiches. A shop held long queues for students lined up to buy wai wai or even, Lays. I however would be on the other part of the compounds, opening up my lunch box along with some of my friends. S mostly brought parathas, I cannot remember what M had, I would mostly have roti with aloo, or fried rice. Lunch is positioned into such a place in our daily lives that it truly gives us all a break and I think it was the most precious in school.

The fifth class always worked into a slow lull. The only other way would be to play games of cricket, tennis-ball football or hide and seeks, on the time left after lunching, so that there remained some initial energy that carried over. Soon enough though, tummies would inflate and eyes started to droop.

In somewhat of an adulthood right now, the idea of lunch has lost its charm. Being out and about so much more means that morning, day and evening meals have blurred boundaries, the time is not fixed and nor is the item. Mostly there are momos. The same plate of dumplings would have held boundless exhilaration for my child-self, today they are part and parcel of the day.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it, but they hold much less pleasure. I suppose everybody grows up to order their own lunches, pay for it and walk out into the world. Some grow to the habit of lighting up a cigarette after lunch, while others prefer gutkas, paan or dessert. There is without doubt more grandeur to the lunch of an adult, greater content, more choices and combinations. Sadly though, those lakhamaris, two for five, are never coming back.

 

 

Chiya-Pasaley loves tea and writes about conversations that originate along the hours spent on drinking many cups of it. Besides that he is curious about many things and especially the rural-urban divide, and the coming of modernization to Nepal. He writes on the mundane and the very fantastic, and everything in between.

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