Namkeen-O-Mania

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 10 November 2018

Festivals are stressful. Buying gifts that are cheap but look expensive. Cleaning the house with the help of ‘Deep Clean’ professional cleaners who clean up beyond their brief.

Festivals are stressful. Buying gifts that are cheap but look expensive. Cleaning the house with the help of ‘Deep Clean’ professional cleaners who clean up beyond their brief. Struggling to write Happy Deepavali under the rangoli so that it fits neatly, without ‘Ali’ having to take the second row. And, responding to a large number of requests to abstain from a large number of things as you celebrate the festival. If you do decide to comply, all you are allowed to do is to sit quietly in a corner, and sip karela juice. Organic.
 
Well, unless you find out that the rare Wynaad Laughingthrush Garrulax delesserti was harmed during the transportation of that karela. Then, you have to spit the juice out and sign an online petition against the karela farmer.

Festivals in India celebrate victory over evil, victory over injustice while tasking us to notch victory against temptation, even as boxes of sweets, namkeens and gujiyas make their way into our homes. Who is responsible for this tradition? Who was the first one who said,‘Hey, let’s celebrate Diwali by giving our neighbour diabetes! And that favourite aunt of ours - how about giving her a clogged artery?’

 I have a sweet tooth. I can’t resist chocolates. The children have standing orders to lock all sweets away. Once in a while, if they forget to, they return from school to a house full of toffee wrappers and chocolate foil. And, a mother looking guilty like a Labrador who’s just chewed his mamma’s socks.

I also feel the pain of people who are addicted to savoury. Like my friend, Anita. She has an aloo-bhujiya addiction. Anita is a gracious and sophisticated woman till someone opens a packet of aloo-bhujiya in her presence. Fangs appear, her hair curls menacingly and her nails seem to acquire a glint. It’s too late by the time the aloo-bhujiya-opener realises what has happened. Not only has the aloo-bhujiya gone, he needs first-aid, too.

Now, lately Anita has realised she needs to face the fact that she has a serious addiction. Being the strong woman she is, she decided to address it with strong measures. She told her house-help to hide all the aloo-bhujiya and related savouries. The diligent lady hid all the packets, tucking them at the back of the remotest kitchen cupboards. Few days passed uneventfully. Then, Anita could take it no more. She got a step ladder. And tore into the cupboards like a mutant zombie. 
 
Calmer and introspective the next day, she came up with a better plan. The house-help was now asked to lock these packets in a suitcase. Few days, again, passed uneventfully. Then, there was Nightmare on Elm’s Street again. Bloodshot eyes sought the suitcase. A screwdriver was the weapon. The feeble lock on at the end of the zip complied, almost immediately. Well, even if the weapon were not there, she would have torn the zip out with her bare teeth. 

As I write, I don’t have any updates on the state of Anita’s addiction. Has she joined Aloo-Bhujiya Anonymous? Has she bought suitcases with stronger zips? Or, has she just fallen off the wagon and spent her son’s college fund buying more aloo-bhujya? I don’t know.
(Best-selling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down comedienne)

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