Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poppy Love

Each Independence day for me brings back memories-not of political speeches from the Red Fort or frivolous Doordarshan (Indian state run TV) commentary or the Independence day offers in Big Bazar. It brings back memories of lazy afternoon lunches whose principal delicacy would be posto. The affinity of Bengali's for poppy seeds or posto, as it is christened in Bengali, is all too well known. Mostly this expensive ingredient is grounded along with sesame seeds or white mustard seeds and the paste, posto bata, is used in every imaginable kind of delicacy. Be it vegetarian dishes like Jhinge posto (Ridge Gourd in poppy seed paste) or non vegetarian dishes like Chingri posto (Prawns in poppy seed paste). Also it doesn't take an association algorithm to figure out the fact that it is cooked together with the most popular vegetable in the Bengali cuisine, the potato, as in Aloo posto (Poptato in poppy seed paste). Some of my friends are inquisitive about the reasons behind Bengali fondness for posto. Some might think it would take an entire research team funded by the Rockefeller foundation to find the answer to this but that wont be necessary. The answer lies in the Bengali addiction for lethargic lifestyle. Posto actually adds to that laidbackness that we are so fond of. Consume any dish of posto along with rice in the afternoon and a two hour nap is guaranteed. It takes you to such a high that not even a rock concert by the most metallic of any rock bands will be able to as much caress your ear drums. You will be completely cut off from the rest of the world for the next two hours. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. When we were toddlers we were told by our moms(overbearing) that we shouldn't venture into the world outside in the afternoon. Some kind of demons are in hunt for unfortunate souls during this time of the day. And so we were made to sleep. And what better way to make someone asleep than a stomach full of morphine emanating poppy seed paste. Till this day we honor this tradition by making it a point to doze off in our workplace for at least 10 minutes everyday after lunch break. Off course we make sure that the screensaver is properly timed.

On a certain independence day as we were returning from school, Ankur uttered this famous quote to a gathering of friends. A quote that meticulously imbibed the spirit of unity with his undaunting love for the poppy seeds. He said and i quote-' Ae mere humwatan dosto, mere ghar aana khilaunga posto ' (Oh my friends and countrymen, come to my home and i will serve you posto). What better way to celebrate an independence day.

Photograph: Ankur