Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cow dung cakes, RamRatan and Airplanes...

In my pre-teen and teen years one of my resposibilities were to take care of our 2 cows and their calves. Feed them,take them out for grazing and bringing them back home at a reasonable ours before milking time were the chores involved. Sounds like fun right.......not!Looking back at it I appreciate my dad making me do all that as I have learnt to love and respect animals. But those days, it cut into my time for other activities :-). Also, there was a cute girl in the 'hood, who was also my classmate, on whom I had the biggest crush. I was so embarrassed when she saw me tending to the cows.

The worst part was collecting the cow dung and making cow dung cakes. These cakes after drying would be used for fuel. I had to do this before going to school, so no matter how much soap you applied, I stank of cow dung!! well..I guess no one noticed
because everybody else stank too of something or the other. Kids from the North Indian families stank of "mustard oil". One way to mask the stink was a lotion called " Boroline". Deodarants were non-existent those days, actually, even now 30 years later,deodarant is not really a commonly used commodity. So, for years, I took care of "Ammini", "nandini", "Aniyathi", "Mani" and "Karambi pashu" ( she was a fiesty one).

That brings me to RamRatan, a punk kid in the 'hood. He came from one of the poorer families in the BHEL N1 quarters( accomodation for labor class employees). He was a sneaky dude who would wait to snag anything that came to hand including Kanndas, guava fruit or mango fruit ( we had these trees in our yard). I would chase him around the block with the choicest words. His whole family would come out and yell at me which would make me retreat like a scared dog. I wonder what Ram Sharif is upto these days? he was my age. Hope he is well.....wherever he is.

As I mentioned before, making the cow dung cakes was my least favorite chore. All dirty with the dung and swatting away vicious flies who are capable of drilling holes into your body, I would look up in the sky and see the long trail of plane fuel of jets flying thousands of feet above me. I would secretly wish I was on one of those jets going to some faraway land where milk and honey flowed, men dressed up in nice suits, hats and boots and ladies in lovely dresses.

To put things into perspective, here I am in a faraway land, reminiscing about wishes that came true.

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