Pears and my Peeyar
The younger one dipped the Pears soap in a bucket full of water to see if it was actually transparent. I was raving mad at her for a moment. I love Pears soap but I don't like it all 'pichku' or soggy. Pears in my mind is still the most expensive, exclusive and classy soap. A Dove though more expensive, doesn't come close. May be because during my childhood, we used only Hamam soap. Green coloured soap bar which hardly melted when children dipped it in water. Ten of us in the joint family used one bar of soap till its almost last bit. There was no soap case in the bathroom. The soap was kept on a cemented shelf which was used to keep dirty clothes. One iron bucket, two separate taps for hot and cold water and one shower with only cold water. There was no Jaguar Mixer for the taps. The bath mug was plastic. This was just a bathroom without any toilet attached. I think it was a much cleaner concept. There was a largish ventilator window near the shower. The bathroom had two green doors with a wooden lock which slid into its bracket. The flooring was green coloured cement with white marble chips and that was also on the four walls. The ceiling was white and higher up the walls were blue. The ventilator overlooked the Aangan on the first floor. Soap was not precious but shampoo definitely was. Later we used to buy Pears soap for Dad. Johnson's Baby soap was just for newborn babies. I craved to use it. Lux soap was a luxury but I never took to it. The bathroom never felt stuffy because of the good ventilation and the big doors. Basic and yet so sufficient. Four generations had used it and yet no plumbing problems. Every fragrance and smell triggers a memory. Soap does that for me. The new age deodorants make me feel sick. They smell so fake and I see all these people on sales calls and college kids using it. A friend discovered Javadhu powder which is a natural perfume or roll-on anti perspirant. Such amazing things in India which are natural, organic and eco friendly too.
Visit to our home town in Kutch reminded me of some of my childhood trips to Anjar for the Kul Devta darshan ( Family Deity). I do not know much about the history of the place. I know my ancestors were from Anjar. The place made me feel happy and connected to my roots. Like telling my child not to waste the Pears soap was also a connection to Jharia, my home town. Suddenly Kutch felt like it had history. A place where mine, my parents' and my grandparents' maternal and paternal great Grandparents were from. I did not even know that Kutch is the largest district in India. I know it has brave people. People who have lived in harsh climates and fought the enemy. People who have all died on the Republic Day in 2001 because of the earthquake in Gujarat and the people who have survived.Streets where children were marching on a Republic Day parade and all 300 died together. The town which has come up bravely inspite of the nature's wrath. I did not hear anyone crying for the dead or talking about the earthquake. All new construction and the mourning is over. In fact, in the Yajna or Yagya for the Kul Devta, the only thing I heard the Pandit/ priest chanting was "Shri Veer Purushaay Namah"...I bow to the Brave. Anjar did feel like 'peeyar'...mother's house for a married daughter. I looked at the Panjrapole, the first place where Dad took me. It is a Gaushaala where cows are kept. It had a feel of an Ashram. I was thinking of the cattle which perished during the earthquake. The Kul Devta temple was destroyed too. All old temples have come up in their allocated space nestled between houses and shops. Guess it makes everyone feel safe and secure...the men and the Gods alike.