Monday, June 8, 2015

The First Kande Pohe War


Half a century and more ago, women completing school was considered the right time to initiate a matrimonial search, replete with the Kande Pohe "seeing" sessions, with a prechecked groom-elect meeting the bride-elect as she came in, with a tray of Kande Pohe, with the entire family watching the impending eye contact with eagle eyes.

The matrimonial search was often multicity and involved uncles travelling with nieces   to participate in the proceedings.

My friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne , writes the story of one such amazingly gifted 16 year old, who then travelled to Mumbai with a very perceptive uncle, who as such, delivered her from this Kande Pohe mafia, so to speak.

He observed her tucking in with great relish into sabudana khichadi with cucumbers, something totally in keeping with the creative girl.   

Clearly, the Kande Pohe Wars were over. The Sabudana Khicahdi with cucumbers had won.  

Read On. (Note : Some things in Marathi are clearly untranslatable into English)

Shruti's amazing post here. (Recipe there)


गिरगावातल्या एका बरणीतले
पेणहून आलेले पोहे,
तिला बघून

आपल्याच्च महत्वात गुरफटले;
कांदे बटाट्याञ्च्या सह त्यांच्यावर
पडलेली जबाबदारी,
चहाच्या पुडीला करून दिलेली आठवण ,
विळीवर नारळाची झालेली खरवड ,
आणि अचानक
आपल्याशीच हसत
एका "वर" व्यक्तीला भेटून,
मनात थोडी शंका येउन
परत आलेले मामा।

संगीतात रममाण ,
हातात अनेक रंग पकडून
आयुष्य चितार्णर्रि ,
आपल्या पदन्यासाने सर्वाना मोहित करणारी,
आणि आकाशाला भिडलेल्या
कल्पनाशक्तीची नक्षी
आपल्या रोज च्या आयुष्यात रंगवणार्या
ह्या सोळा वर्षीय मुलीला
एक् रंगीय पोह्यात, आपले वर्चस्व गाजवणार्या बटाट्यात
कांद्याबरोबर चुपचाप आयुष काढणे
कसे जमणार ?

तिच्यासाठी
फुलून येणारे साबुदाणे,
पाठी आयुष्भर उभे राहणारे दाण्याचे कूट ,
हवा हवा सा थंडावा
पसरवून
तेलात सुधा
"इश्श , मिर्चीताई,
तेल किती गरम असेल ह्याची कल्पनाच न्हवती ,
जर सांगायच कि हो !"
म्हणून,
सबुदाण्याञ्च्या स्वागताला सज्ज होणार्या काकड्या,
आणि सर्वांवर तथास्तु म्हणत
शिम्पड्नारे लीम्बुरस,
नारळ अन कोथिम्बिरीच्या अक्षता….
सर्व जण एका ताटलीत जमा होतात
आणि तिच्याकडे अपेक्षेने बघतात .

हर्षभराने चमचाभर तोंडात टाकून,
घरची आठवण काढत
डोळ्यात चांदणे साठवून ती मामांकडे बघते .

आणि कुतुहलाने विचारणार्या
सर्वांना मामा सांगतात,
" पिवळी अष्टपुत्री साडी तर सगळीच नेसतात,
पण हिला तर
आमची हिरव्या चंद्रकोरी आणि सोनेरी बुट्ट्याञ्चि
चंदेरीच
किती शोभून दिसते न ?"
 Pohas from Pen,
drunk in their own importance,
directing the onions
and potatoes into action,
nudging tea leaves
into a boiling life,
as a coconut shreds itself
to pieces
in desperation
at the impending social event;
and an Uncle returns
after previewing
a candidate
perhaps, scheduled for matrimony.

And then a waiting niece,
wrapped in the music
of her life,
dancing to the beat,
painting the skies
with her brilliant imagination
all of sixteen,
now with him in
the big city
for the big event.

Not for her,
the monochromatics
of a subservient poha,
being lorded over
by a Potato dada with Onion chamchas,
and the Uncle turns
to find her
imbibing in joy
from a bowl of
Kakdi Sabudana Khichdi,
much more her style.

Sabudana blooming
specially for her,
faithfully supported
by crushed, roasted, but undeterred
peanuts,
and
finely diced cool cucumbers
going "Aiiyo"
as they fall
into hot oil,
meeting the mirchies,
and then pull themselves up
to receive
the mixed up sabudanas.

A sprinkling of lemon juice,
cilantro and coconut,
a great and stirring finale,
and she pops a spoonful
and savours it
amidst memories of home,
as the tears
converge
to become
stars in her eyes.

Like the Uncle said,
" Everyone wears the
yellow Ashtaputri wedding saree,
but special ones
simply sparkle
in off white chanderis
with green newmoon prints
and gold dots,
don't they ?"

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