Family bonds


I stand on my balcony, and watch the evening sky. The clouds and the sun seem to be playing hide and seek. Golden rays stream out one second, and are gone the next. Birds are getting back to their nests, after a long day, nearly twelve hours since they left home. I am sure they are glad to be back in the warmth of their nests, to snuggle amongst the twigs and leaves, have a chit chat with their neighbours and call it a day!

I smile, as I liken this to what we humans do, when we come back to the warmth and smells of our homes every evening, after a long day spent at work or school.

We are different creatures, when we step out every morning – well groomed, mentally poised and focused on getting work done, lists and priorities clearly structured in our heads.

But at the end of the day, when we set foot inside our homes, we transform into different creatures – for home is the place where we can let our guard down. 

I see this when my kids come home from school. They shed their ‘outside world’ personas as they take off their shoes and socks, drop bags, and lunch boxes, loudly asking about what there is to eat. They plonk on the sofa with a thud, and then sink into their new ‘home skins’, as they narrate what they did, and who said what and the tons of homework to be done.

Family dynamics kick-in. Familiar jokes get exchanged, patterns of behaviour repeat, squabbles break out, mom’s nagging continues, we try to finish school work, bond over dinner, watch some television, worry about things unknown, share space and time, share tears and laughter, share likes and dislikes, and rally around the person who is down in the dumps!

Courtesy – Crazy family Clipart – ClipartFest

We are individuals, who are held together by deep bonds of shared everything. We know each others’ quirks, and crazy routines, we sometimes yell for some ‘timeout’ and ‘space’ from the others. But it is just that..only a brief time out. For we would be lost without the family and all the craziness that goes into it.

I wonder if it is the same for all these tweeting birds. My brood is back, winding down. My chores beckon. I head back in.

Steel dabbas


Indian kitchens are usually loaded with stainless steel – cutlery, utensils, ladles and cookers.

As kids, most of us carried lunch to school in small round or rectangular steel boxes. In India, they are called ‘dabbas’ (singular ‘dabba’).

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   Picture courtesy – http://www.pinterest.com

The dabbas usually had two compartments, one for the roti or rice, and the other for the vegetable.

My Dad and uncles had a bigger and more sophisticated version of the steel dabba, which was called the ‘tiffen carrier’. The carrier had three, four, five or six compartments, stacked one on top of the other, held together on top by a metal clip.  The ones my Dad usually carried had three layers – one each for rice, gravy and vegetable.

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  Picture courtesy – http://www.alibaba.com

When we ordered food for family functions, the caterer usually supplied food in huge ‘carriers’ – those that had many layers! It was a joy to open these carriers and see what was inside each layer.

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               Picture courtesy    
           http://www.meeramarketing.com

I have a four-compartment tiffen carrier at home now, which I use when we go out on picnics. It stands vertical, and hence occupies very little space.

Steel dabbas usually served us for many, many years. Except for a dulling in their silver sheen, they carried warm, lovingly-packed, home-cooked meals for us throughout our school days.

The dabbas carried special treats on our birthdays, and small notes from mom or dad sometimes.

There was this group of friends, who went to school with me, from Grade 1 through Grade 12. Over all those years, on every school day, all of us had lunch together. We would open our steel dabbas and share our food with each other. We knew which mom made the best rice dishes or rotis. By the time we reached high school, we were such good friends that we actually demanded certain dishes for lunch, from each other, and our loving moms usually obliged.

My mom’s specialty was her sambhar rice with potato fry, which my dabba lovingly carried for many years.

So many wonderful memories contained in a small steel dabba.