Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet and Smoky Memories


Here comes Diwali or Deepavali as we call it down south!
In Singapore thanks to the huge populace of Indian origin, Deepavali is one of the well recognized festivals. It is a public holiday and everywhere one can find banners wishing all Hindu residents a fantabulous Deepavali. Numerous fairs get organized where sweets, savouries and clothes are sold.  So in a way, we don’t miss home that badly during the festival.
I have fond memories of the Deepavalis of my childhood. For women like my mother , it used to be the best occasion to try their hand at various delicacies. There would be two categories of eatables made. One at which they were adept, and there was a very meagre chance of any goof ups. Then there were the first time experiments which would enter the ‘for-distribution-to-friends-and-neighbors’ category depending upon the outcome.  And Boy! A variety of delicacies would be made at home. Half of the telephone lines in the city would be buzzing with dialogues like ‘Oh you made 7-cup-cake? I made laddoo this time.What exactly is the proportion needed for that one?’ etc.  Unlike today when they have been replaced with ‘Hello, Grand Snacks? Please pack three kg of ladoos distributed in 5 boxes!’
I remember I once caught Conjunctivitis (‘Madras’ eye) at school and happily passed it on to my mom just before Deepavali. Determined lady that she is, despite the sore eyes, she completed the mission at hand -  making three big dappas(tins) of murukku(a savoury)  and two three varities of sweets. I remember that time I did not know the word ‘sore’. I thought its called ‘soaries’ a new disease!
Another inseparable component of Diwali – well, do I have to say it? Firecrackers of course!
As a kid when I was in Kerala, ours was the only home that celebrated Deepavali in a totally Mallu neighbourhood. We used to gain the wrath of all our neighbors bursting 100 and 200 walas, in the wee hours of morning. God knows how many curses they would have directed at us for interrupting their early morning dreams!
I remember one occasion when the shopkeeper sold us a latest firecracker called ‘Super atom bomb’. It was almost the size of a cricket ball. My older cousin was about to light it and I got so scared, I went and hid somewhere along with the dogs and cats. It was a super blooper! It peeled itself slowly like an onion and finally when it was the size of a sticker bindi emitted a tiny ‘plop’ and died.  

There was one Diwali which I will never forget. My family and I were standing outside and lighting the flower pots and chakras along with our neighbors. After some time, some smell seemed to come from inside the house that hit our nostrils strongly despite the chemical odours that floated in the smoky air. My dad went in to check out and came rushing out , with blood red eyes, gasping for air , suffocated and almost choking. My mother had left the kadai with the oil on the stove after making the snacks. There are long agarbathis(incense sticks) that the firecracker shops sell. These are used for lighting the crackers that burst a.k.a the lakshmis, hydrogen, bijili etc. My little brother who had gone inside to light that one, had turned on the stove to do so. Happily forgetting to turn it off, he had walked out in glee. The oil had become hot, extremely hot, smoky and had finally caught fire. The kitchen was a small one with limited ventilation and there was little escape for all that smoke. I still clearly remember the way my dad looked after inhaling that. Bloodshot eyes and deep gasps for breath - Almost like an asthmatic attack!
I am sure all of you would have some memory or the other…Do share them in the comments section  !
And yeah, Wish you all a Happy Diwali. J

56 comments:

  1. Wonderful memories of Diwali! True, very few people make all the sweets and namkins at homes these days. My mom and our neighbours used to help each other and make huge quantities of Gulab Jamuns, Gujhias and Mathris at home. But now it's all packed stuff from the sweet shops or especially packed gift packs of chocolates, juices and namkeens.
    It was Aaryan's 2nd Diwali and we were bursting crackers and lighting phuljharis with him. A neighbour's small son came along and we shared our phuljharis with him. When he was done, Aaryan, in eagerness to help, took the burnt phuljhari from him but held it from the burnt end!! and he had a burnt and singed hand for many days!!
    Happy Diwali to you and your family! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shilpa

      Oops! Poor child! My cousin;s girl had a similar incident....In some countries there is a lot of oohs and aahs about safety of children....I mean for simple things like climbing stairs etc....Playing with fireworks would be something unimaginable in these places ha ha

      Delete
  2. happy diwali Jaish...wonderful memories those!!

    diwali in Nagpur is always a community festival, never to be celebrated alone....sweets and namkeens always home made..and after the lakshmi pujan,all the residents of our apartment(there are just 10 flats) come together and burst crackers together....imagine the fireworks that start by say around 8pm go well past midnight, with the consumption of large varieties of sweets and namkeens from every household....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! That sounds awesome...Touch Wood Princess...Hope the harmony stays forever!

      Delete
  3. Happy deepavali to you too Jaish :)
    HAHAHA....the super atom bomb sure delivered the goods of scaring off the people quite well.
    Nice memories in this post. Hope you get to light few crackers in Singapore too. Have a safe diwali :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jayashree there would hardly be a house that does not have similar nostalgia of Diwali from making savories at home, bursting crackers, sharing sweets and of course thenew clothes:) Now of course people buy new clothes at all times of the year so that besides many other things have changed with time!Wishing you and family a happy Diwali!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Yeah Rahul. Earlier buying new clothes was restricted to festivals. So that made sure that there was just enough variety in the wardrobe and not an onslaught of new things to wear every month. But now as you said, buying new clothes is as common as buying sugar and oil.

      Delete
  5. Diwali is one of the moments when people irrespective of their identity join together to celebrate the joyful occasion of lights... Very well written post bringing out memories of the childhood... "Oh you made 7-cup-cake? I made laddoo this time. What exactly is the proportion needed for that one?" This made me laugh as my mom said nearly the same one to her sister with the names of the sweets interchanged :D Happy happy Diwali...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha ha...Really? Hope you had a great time gobbling up all those sweets!

      Delete
    2. Yeah :D Devouring is gonna be my top priority this week :P

      Delete
  6. Jaish,
    ...besides all memories of yours I remember the way you wrote about your mom, for the question
    "Tell me about someone whom you've met in the strangest manner, who has then gone on to become an integral part of your life"

    believe me, every time i jump into your blog I remember those beautiful words of your which made me your follower and a fan.

    Happy Diwali.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you remember that Satish? How Sweet! :) Happy Diwali to you too!

      Delete
  7. Hhhhhhhahaha ChennEYE and Diwali in a mallu society!! Both are certainly unforgettable diwalies Jayshoo, have agreat one you!!

    P/s what sweets you're making???

    Do stop by my blog! I'd love your comments & visits!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Diwali is one of my most favourite festivals... full of lights..colours.. and so much fun!

    Your post reminded me of my childhood when there was so much activity with friends, relatives and all around - cooking, eating, laughing etc!


    Wishing you a very happy Diwali with loads of joy and love all around you..take care..!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wish you and yours a Shubh Deepavali!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just love Diwali Jaish ...though I don't like bursting crackers but I do enjoy seeing the fireworks ... I love lighting diyas ... Have a safe and Happy Diwali !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow down south we dont light Diyas for Diwali...We do that for another festival called ' Karthigai Deepam' :)

      Delete
  11. Now how i wish all the nuclear weapons in the world were versions of your super atom bomb :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. time machine effect...takes me back to the days of my childhood too...nowadays its all about celebrating diwali online....on fb and twitter...i grew up in sowcarpet in old madras and had a lot of fun in mint street every diwali..miss those days very much

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah true Ganesh...I remember ever since cable TV came up, people stopped gathering on Diwali evenings and started getting glued to their TVs to watch Padayappa or Baasha! :(

      Delete
  13. Super Atom Bomb! I tried that too. But in my case, it woke the entire neighborhood that night. But those days are gone. Nowadays,I make Deepavali special for others. I spend the day with those who can't celebrate it themselves. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats so wonderful Leopaw! Kudos for that!

      Delete
  14. So the Super atom bomb really was ONE bomb, eh? Nice to read about you childhood memories of the festival of lights. Back home, we light crackers for Vishu. But in the boarding school that I was in, we celebrated all the popular festivals. You reminded me of the day we used to get a small box of sweets (with a laddoo, jelabi, Mysore Pak, Peda and one other sweet). Diwali was the day we would get to go visit a temple and that was exciting too, not because we were very religious but it was on of those ocasions we got to out. :) Diwali and Onam also meant we we could eat with our bare hands. How we looked forward to that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh other days, they forced you to use cutlery is it? I remember in college one of my friends once did a Vishu kani kanal for us :)

      Delete
  15. That was another sweet post, Jaish. We love Deepawali. Along with Ganesh Jayanthi, this is another festival that we celebrate at grand :) I miss celebrating it after coming to the US. That was a scary incident. Happy Diwali!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy Diwali to you too...Yeah, outside India the fun is less :)

      Delete
  16. Ahh you amde me go on a nostalgia trip too Jaish. Such a sweet post.
    We celebrate Diwali here too but with the absence of firecrackers and it is banned here. Nonetheless Without crackers too we have fun and lots of it. :D
    Happy Deepawali to u too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bhagyashree. I feel even in India there should be some restrictions on the usage of fire crackers :)

      Delete
  17. That was so sweet, Jaishree. Remembering and sharing these incidents is an inherent part of Diwali. Once when I was about eight, my mother had a mishap while making cheedai. It burst and she was spattered with hot oil and when my grandmother saw her dear daughter with those boils on her face, she began crying and refused to touch a single cheedai!

    There is another lovely nostalgia post on Diwali by Arti on my blog. Do read :)

    Wish you a very happy Diwali!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will surely visit Zephyr...A little held up of late and there are sooooooooo many blogs to catch up with! Phew! Happy Diwali to you too

      Delete
  18. My fondest memory of Diwali has to be my daughter's first diwali. All of six months she was amazed and bewildered by the sounds and sights of diwali. To see the festival of lights from her perspective was an awesome experience. Happy Diwali Jayashree!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah its fun watching their reactions....Happy Diwali Swapna!

      Delete
  19. Lovely Diwali memories, Jaish! That incident of your father getting caught in smoke is scary. Glad that it remained to just that. I have very sombre memories of Diwali myself - lights and merry making and of course all the mithais that we used to feast on! My mother always recounted an incident of how a firecracker had once burnt the saree of her grandmother. So she made sure we always stayed away from crackers and all :)

    Happy Diwali :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks and wish you the same Arti. Thanks for stepping in. Sarees and dhotis are more vulnerable to catching fire due to their flowing nature.

      Delete
  20. That was an awesome post, Jaish, it helped me recapture a little bit of my childhood memories.
    It’s that time of the year once again — when winter chill brings the Goddess of wealth, and in our case, Goddess Kali in Bengal. Memories of sweet and dried fruit boxes, lighting of diyas, the mandatory plate of sweets distributed by friends and neighbours, literally going house to house, the excitement at going to the shops to choose fireworks… they’re all so deliciously revered to this day!
    Happy Diwali!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah Panchali di...Definitely exciting ! Thanks and hope you had a fantabulous one!

      Delete
  21. Enjoyed reading your sweet memories on Deepavali.
    Wishing you and your family another Happy Deepavali :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Now that is an experience all that smoke and all :)
    I rememeber a lot of incidents of back home celbrating diwali and all ..

    Happy diwali jaish and to your family and everyone around you ..
    have a great time tomorrow and enjoyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy


    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bikram , Do u know that ur enthusiasm is absolutely contagious :) Yours is the first wish I have received on Diwali day(I am just up and checked for comments on my phone :that's sort of routine like brushing hi hi )wish u and ur family a very happy Diwali :)

      Delete
  23. Nice one. I could relate to a lot of things. Diwali in Kerala is one of them. I have had the experience too. We didn't even get crackers in Ernakulam. And about your mother making sweet brought me memories of my own mother. Wish you a happy Diwali.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you have been in Ernakulam? Nice place. Wish you a happy Diwali too

      Delete
  24. Happy diwali!! I think all our fond memories of Diwali center around food and fire crackers!! :))

    ReplyDelete
  25. Happy Deepavali, Jayashree!

    This is my 2nd blog in wordpress.com

    http://wp.me/p2RUp2-e

    I do write in my first blog also.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Happy Diwali Jaish :) Hope you had a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The only bad memory I have is of a cracker exploding in my hands! All other memories are worthy of rememberance :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow.. lovely memories... My mum is a similar kinds still and she loves experimenting with food.. Diwali is a day too where she does the extra efforts to pamper our taste buds. And the incident that happened with you Dad is really scary.. Hope people who read are extra careful..
    This time I was not home and I missed celebrating Diwali with them in India..
    I have written about my Diwali in Europe.. do read it.

    ReplyDelete