Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sare Jahan se Achcha?

A little article on the newspaper a couple of days ago made me go back a few decades, when customs clearance was a big, controversial word in Kerala. Why do I say Kerala? Simple - because every household had someone who was packed off to the 'Gelf' or 'Duubaai' .... Which could mean anywhere beyond the Arabian Sea!!

Families who came visiting once in 2 or 3 or 5 (!!) years were eagerly awaited by all human population within a radius of 10 kilometers of the house that the 'gulf' family resided. There would be talks about the visit a few months before, and a few weeks (coz' then its time to start talking about their next visit) after their 2 month vacation....

The article spoke about the strange things that passengers checked in when they were travelling on flights. The article stated that there were people who tried to check in a pet tarantula, a bath tub (!!) a dead cow, a bagful of sand and sea water, and other such strange items into their flights. This started me thinking.... what if we could carry anything we wanted into those darn flights, guess what luggage I would carry from these locations...

Let me start with my favorite:

Kerala : A roomful of coconuts, maybe a coconut tree or two, a 'settu-mundu' (a white sari with gold border - every woman in Kerala with a strand of self-esteem owns one - and so do I) an of course, a few tonnes of pure Dubai gold (which, incidentally, is available in more abundance in the Alukkas showrooms than in the rest of the world put together!)

Bengal : (I go from Kerala to Bengal, because I think they are twins separated at birth - ask Communism and seafood if you have any doubts) ALL the cds on Rabindra sangeet that EVER got made, a few bucket fulls of Rassogollas, another few buckets of fish... and of course... the Satyajit Ray movies!!

Delhi : Swanky new car (which will get bumped on the side in a few hours on Delhi roads), a sworvoski laden sherwani / Sari for the big fat Indian wedding, all the chaat one can eat,  branded merchandise from sunglasses to socks (wanted to say something else instead of socks, but thought the better of it!!) and packetfuls of Haldiram / Bikanerwala namkeens!

Gujarat : Namkeens, namkeens and some more of them! Of course, the seductive chaniya cholis for the next Navratra event, some of their business acumen, and definitely Falguni Pathak!

Mumbai : All the filmy stuff, including the k-k-k-kiran accent (speaking of which, accents in Bollywood seem to create more controversies than shrinking clothes!!), loads and loads of the attitude that Mumbaikars can pull off (please stand informed - it doesn't matter what language your parents speak, what foods you ate when you started solids, what clothes your folks wished you wore.... eventually, in Mumbai, you become a Mumbaikar with a healthy diet of pav bhaji and street smartness, mingled with a care-a-damn attitude .... i could kill for that one!!)

Lucknow : the non veg recipes for the dishes those Nawabs ate, chikan-work sarees, sheets, and ANYTHING else made of that stuff, some of the 'Tehzeeb' (could use some of that here in Delhi to wash out some peoples' mouth!!), some of the stress free bindaas attitude.. (i swear, when you are pulling your hair apart coz of a flight delay, there are people who would help you out with 'shayari'...)

GOA : tra-la-la-la-laaaaa-la-la-la-laaaaaa .... oh sorry!! that's what happens when i think of Goa. A few bottle of the lovely sweet fortified (like hell!!) wines, the finger lickin' prawns - in any form! Cashews and its cousin called Feni, those hippie sarongs, buckets of sand ....on second thoughts, I'd rather just miss the flight and stay on there...

Bhubhaneswar (don't ask me how it made the list, but i spent a few months there!!) : I'd definitely carry back the afternoon siesta - the capital city is like its been cast a spell - from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, even the flies take a nap!! Then I'd carry some artisan stuff - colorful and bright. The tastiest vegetarian food I've eaten is the 'chappan bhog' of the Jagannath Puri temple - I'd definitely pack a few kilos of that!!

Bangalore : I'd begin with packing in all my friends and family who stay there (I have more people to meet there than I have in any place, including my home town!!).... and if I still am allowed to board the flight, I'd carry the euphoria of the place; and of course, some south Indian silk sarees. (of course, these come from little villages, but i could see the entire range there!!)

To be continued..... let me end here for now before your patience wears out! In short, I'd just like to say that  each city has such a wonderful uniqueness about it, and there are hundreds if not thousands of such cities in India. Is it a wonder then, that a trip to any of these time machines brings one back to the heading of this post?? Jai Hind!!


  1. YEs so true , More then half of punjab is aborad in some places the whol village is abroad.. So i can understand what you mean and packing a few things from places i visited or been to in india wowo I could write many a post from there .. :)

    I was the first one to go aborad from my vilalge s othe first time i ever went back after a few years the whole village came to see me and then i went to all the houses before i came back ..

    reminded me of that time , now too when i visit its like a big thing

    If possible i would take the whole of india with me in my baggage cause nothing can beat your own country ...


  2. Hahaha. IT IS SO FUNNY......

    (Please remove word verification as Google control spam anyway)

  3. @ A .... thank you for reading.

    I did not understand the latter part of ur comment - the one about word verification! Call it computer illitracy!! :-)

  4. @Bikram.... i know... Punjab and Kerala are alike in that respect - every house has an NRI!!... Look forward to your post on the topic!!

  5. Great reading

    Only comment would be on Lucknow. My stint there showed that all the "tehzeeb' had thus got exported out of Lucknow like the Maliyabad Dusehri mangoes and was only limited to some pars of teh old city

  6. @Peter John,
    Thanks for the comment.... i think i agree. The culture of any city seems to be hidden away in some nooks these days - Lucknow being no different!