Aaj Sunday Hai

Sunday, the word itself might bring back some great memories from the past or just remind you of the plans that you made for the coming one.

In most countries of the world, a Sunday is a holiday. Education institutions and offices are closed.

The day has different meaning to each one of us, and in many families, they have something they call ‘The Sunday Ritual’

For some:

• It’s the freedom to get up late in the morning….Sleeping your way to glory.

• Even though they want to sleep till late, but their strict/disciplined parents (mostly fathers), don’t let them. Mothers are sweet most of the time and don’t bother to wake us up, isn’t it?

• It’s going to the Church, Gurudwara or a temple for the morning prayers with the family

• It’s having meals together, as during the weekdays everyone is in a hurry and hardly can stay till the breakfast.

• It’s the day for the ‘special meal’. This is kind of a Sunday Ritual for them. This varies from getting up early to buy fish or heading towards the mutton shop for the maasaharis to probably preparing the usual cottage cheese or Chole-Bhature or Rajma Chawal etc… for the shakahaaris

• And then there are those who prepare to get some sleep in early hours of the day. If you haven’t guessed it until now, it’s the party-people who party from night till early morning. Remember the pop singer Badhshah’s song “…party chalegi till 6 in the morning…”.

{maasahari: Non-Vegetarians; shakahaaris: Vegetarians}

Early — Mid 2000s, Mumbai

Characters:

Maa, Pitaji, Chote & I

{Maa: Mother, Pitaji: Father, Chote = my younger brother}

At home, we don’t have a ‘Sunday Ritual’ where we would get to eat a special meal.

Plus Pitaji would be home. This is something that I’d stress at this point and by the end you’ll understand the importance. :P

Our Eating Habit:

We usually sit on the ground, on a mat, with legs folded in aa-lakti — paa-latki (You may ask what does that even mean?). It is basically a simpler version of Ardha-padmasana yogic pose or the crossed-leg posture.

Ardha-Padmasana

We would have our TV switched ON while we have our meal. I know this is kind of a distraction, but most Indian families eat watching TV or listening to Music (only a few). Oh and then there is a new category who religiously take picture of every meal they eat & post it on Social Media. I wonder why? And what if the dish that looks great might not be as tasty, would they then still ask their followers to try the dish?

I have seen families where mothers ask their kids/husband what would they want to eat for meals each day. Well, that doesn’t happen in mine. But yeah, having said that, I’ll give Maa the credit that she has always had the freedom to choose and feed us with whatever she likes — nutritious, filling and healthy. And every now and then she used to surprise us with our favorite dishes too. :D

Making a Menu:

I remember how once Pitaji took the initiative of asking us to make a menu.

This menu would contain all the items that we loved to eat — the favorite items. Items from these would be reflected in our tiffin to school.

Chote had always been choosy/very selective of what he likes to eat. His list thus contained only a select items, some of them being Bhindi fried with onions & Dal Tadka — ‘The Dhaba Version’ is what he demanded.

Maa tells me that I had always been a good boy when it came to my eating habits. I was introduced to the usual diet: Indian bread — Chapati, Veggies & Dal at the age of three. And, I never resisted myself against what I was fed. This helped me to develop-a-taste for the Indian Food. My list thus was longer consisting of a variety items ranging from breakfast items of Pulao, Parathas, Pao-Bhaji, Sandwich etc… ; And a wide number of veggies & pulses for Lunch and Dinner.

Chote & I used to get common items for our tiffin to school, so it wasn’t the case that he’d not eat the tiffin if it consisted of something that he didn’t like. But then, whenever that would be the case, he used to demand his favourite veggie being cooked for dinner that night.

I don’t exactly remember how long we followed the menu, but this exercise made us realize of our favorites and gave us the freedom to express and choose. These might be small issue to many, but these days not providing of these rights are making the National News.

{Bhindi : Ladyfinger ; Dhaba : A Roadside eating joint ; Chapati : an Indian bread }

How was our Sunday?

Since Pitaji were home, he’d highjack the dining area & watch TV all morning till lunch [The dining area would have the Sofa, Dining Table, and Gadda to lie down]. Chote & I would spent time in our room, that we shared, finishing our homework that were due the next day. If there were no homework, Pitaji would assign us some lessons to do and would also sit with us helping with Mathematics and Sciences.

So this would go on post-breakfast until lunch. Pitaji would watch TV or could be seen attending phone-calls catching up with friends and relatives, while Maa would either be in the kitchen preparing for Lunch or doing laundry.

In this interval (duration between Breakfast — Lunch), Pitaji would sometimes call us.

Baccho, idhar aao”

Now this signal would mean that we had to rush to the hall/dining area at the earliest.

He used this signal to call us and show something that was being aired on TV that could be some documentary from Science, History, News event etc… We were always allowed to watch a Quiz-Show like BQC, KBC, etc… This was the reason that I eventually became good at quizzing.

The time after lunch was usually spent taking an afternoon nap.

In the evening we used to go out for walks towards Colaba Causeway, Fort, Marine Drive or a garden nearby. Chote & I mostly opted to go to the clubhouse for a game of TT or Squash. So basically evenings were fun times.

{ Gadda= mattress ; Baccho, idhar aao = Kids, come here}

The Sunday Kheer

The Rice Kheer [Image Just for representation]

This was the much awaited item of the day. Maa believes that consumption of Milk in the diet compensates of nutrition that otherwise couldn’t be incorporated through meals at lunch or dinner. So she made sure that we took a glass of milk in the mornings and evening. But on Sundays Kheer was an additional input to our so called ‘Milk intake’.

She makes the best kheer. This recipe is said to be a running in the family since generations. The basics she uses are whole grains — wheat, barley, millets, cassava (sabu daana) and of course rice. She adds chopped dry fruits & ends it with topping of Kesar (Saffron).

Pitaji while having desserts would play his favorites from the 70s & 80s on the preserved tape recorder. Though he used to plug-it-in the home-theater system as the audio output, but then there were days when he was made to use headphones when Dadaji would scold him for listening to FM till late in night.

‘Aaj Sunday Hai’ — The Code-word

This code-word was between Chote & I. It comprised of combination of two things.

First was Television. TV on Sunday’s did not have anything interesting to show. So even while having our meals, we had to do with the news, most of which we were not able to comprehend.

Second was Pitaji being home. Not that we did not like him being home, but then our fun and masti was under control when he was around. And whenever we misbehaved, we used to get prasadam on our cheek(s), it would be mostly single/multiple on the same cheek, but then it could be both cheeks depending on his mood. That’s something typical Indian / Desi isn’t it.

So apart from actual Sundays, if there was a national holiday in the middle of the week, we would say … “Aaj Sunday Hai”.

I had a great time writing this. I hope you liked reading it. Do share what Sunday is like at your home.

{ masti = the fun that kids do ; prasadam = is a material substance of food that is a religious offering. It is normally consumed by worshipers after worship. But in the text here it refers to a ‘slap on the cheek’}