Sunday, September 26, 2004

indian sweets

In spite of consumerism having a field day, in spite of DINK philosophy ruling the roost and in spite of Yuppie culture having spread its tentacles far and wide, it is a sorry state of affairs that sweetmeat vendors are left stranded high and dry. They are facing a really tough proposition. Apparently, a vast majority of diseases are related to the heart (of which people know precious little!) and news items continuously caution that such diseases can be directly linked to the intake of sugar. Hence, everyone but everyone is wary of sweet dishes – leaving the poor sweetmeat vendors to fend for themselves.

It is not that sweet dishes do not find any takers or that they have become outdated in the era of hamburgers and pizzas. Only, the nature of dishes has undergone immense changes in the last half century or so.

Bowbazar Street in Kolkata used to be known once upon a time as ‘chhana patti’. On this street there used to be any number of sweetmeat shops proudly displaying mouth varieties of their products. These used to come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There were the cylindrical ones, the round ones, the conical ones and the cubical ones. Some had a yellow tinge, others a flush of pink or a dash of green. Whilst one was as smooth as the shell of an egg, the one in the adjacent tray was covered with sand like particles. Some were of the wet family, others dry or even semi-dry! My vote always used to go to the ‘tal-shash’. Shaped just like the tender kernel of the palm fruit, it boasted of am extremely hard exterior with a deliciously soft centre. How the moyras managed to insert the sweet liquid into its very core is, even today, a mystery.

I am referring to the period of the late fifties.

My brothers and I used to stare longingly at the showcases as we waited for our route bus to arrive – longingly because we were not entitled to any such thing as pocket money which could have been diverted to soothe our desires. The concept of pocket money, in those days, was non existant. When we left for school in the morning, Mother would give me one rupee towards the up and down fare for my three brothers and me. There was no question of any emergency fund because emergencies were unheard of and one rupee was quite adequate – the bus fare being twelve paise per head!

Marriage festivities, in those days, were considered incomplete without an abundance of rosogollas, ladykenis. Even sandesh had its ardent followers.

Such celebrations, today, present a totally different picture. Invitees arrive with gift cheques, bouquets, books and smiles. At the entrance, they are served soft drinks. Caterers guide them gently but firmly to their respective tables and dispose them off in a swift and efficient manner. Additional helpings cause raised eyebrows all around, hence not in the menu! And, the sweet dish has been virtually reduced to a cup of ice cream or a bowl of fruit salad.

Women today are more conscious of their figures and men of their cholesterol levels. The basic approach to gaining and guaranteeing satisfaction is not that sweet any longer as it used to be in the good old days. Bhim Nag, K.C.Das, Ganguram and Jalajoga are just a few names that have become history. Today, cheap imitations rule the roost. True sweeties, alas, can now be discovered only in memories.

2 Comments:

Blogger Umang said...

Came across yr blog while googling for some write-ups on Indian sweets to send to my Americal colleagues.

FYI, one of them got "traditional Mexican sweets" and they are just like our laddu-pedas!!!

Anyway, yr blog is very interesting and yr verve/flair is commendable.

My blog:

umkumar.blogspot.com

best wishes

2:33 PM  
Blogger Nikesh kumar said...

Pure ghee sweets are so delicious and yummy.
sweets shop in coimbatore

11:48 PM  

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