Of wire baskets and steel boxes

Drawing up a list of stuff to get before Kay and Cee start ‘school’ over the next couple of weeks, I stopped when I got to the lunch supplies. Bag? Check. Box? Boxes?? I went off on a tangent looking at Target and Wal-Mart online to see what was available. Browsing through pages of Dora and Elmo and Disney boxes, I gave up at some point and travelled back in time to multi colored wire baskets and double-decker steel carriers.

For the longest time Amma would walk in the hot noon sun carrying lunch for us kids to school. Waiting for Amma we would crowd under the shade of the tree and open up our boxes to see piping hot rasam rice and potato curry or creamy white thayir sadham with potato. Scrambling to finish before the bell rang or before some bird decided to grace our food with their poop, we would clutch the 1 Rupee worth Mr Pops lollipop before scurrying back to class. Grow up we did and the double-decker steel carrier gave way to a single square box. My lunch bag changed from wire basket to plastic basket. It would have a small squarish towel, a spoon, water bottle and the lunch box. I remember being very aware of what I brought to lunch. I did not want anything that leaked, smelled too much or left coloring on my lips. I also remember some strange combinations my bench-mate bought. Some days it would be a boiled egg buried three-fourths into a box of white rice. Other days it would be a brick-red piece of fish on curd rice. I was fascinated with my first exposure to non veg food.

Come high school and I dispensed with the lunch bag altogether preferring to stuff my box into my school bag. Lunch also now meant it had to be something dry. Chappathis with vegetables or variety rice. This was the phase at school when nobody ate their own lunches. I would trade my lunch in with a friend for aloo parathas or pickle rice. The glorious days of sharing sans hygiene concerns. Sharing food and water as a mark of friendship. Bonds that grew from packing an additional box to share.

Waking up from my reverie, I realized what a generation gap meant. I doubt my daughters will get to carry double-decker steel boxes or rice to school. I will break my head over mac and cheese or sandwiches just as my mom did over idlis and rice. As the girls grow perhaps they will ask to eat at the school instead of taking lunch with them. Who knows what is in store?

Happy Friday folks!

5 comments

  1. For the longest time, I had a heart shaped steel box that I would carry my food in. Sometimes it would be chapatis, but 99% it would be thair chaadam with amma’s lemon oorgai! Yum! Lovely trip down memory lane this post 🙂 Have they started day care already?

  2. Laksh,

    I give these lunch boxes to my daughter even today (as most of the kids in her school here are from Indian origin). Well that’s bay area 🙂

    As a matter of fact, mine’s prefer home lunch box than school’s hot/cold lunches. Sometimes kids make a choice and they boss us.

    -Uma

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