“Kauda Tel” a panacea for beauty treatment in Simla of the Sixties
Kauda Tel was the magical potion for the beauty treatment of damsels of Simla in the Sixties. Right from early mornings till late at night Kauda Tel reigned supreme in one way or another in our life.
Bauji would start his morning with Tel malish and would massage my thin legs with his sturdy and strong hands with what else…the Kauda Tel…
Meanwhile Amma would be busy putting Kauda Tel in the iron Kerai and when it started to smoke would put all dry masalas in it….the sputtering and cracking of Jeera, coriander seeds would not be musical to my ears as I would be thinking of the blackish vegetable that I would have to carry in my lunchbox to the school. It didn’t look any more inviting when it was cold, rather it turned worse. I would not like to open my lunch box with that dreaded vegetable mixed with oxides of the iron Kerai. I would rather take plain parantha with salt and ajwain to school. But Bauji would say that the vegetables cooked in iron Kerai are so healthy. He was so right. The red cheeks of Simla damsels owed the poor iron Kerai gratitude for bringing this glow to their face….atleast to the face of the fair ones.
Once done with her cooking, Amma would hurriedly prepare us for school and would dip her fingers in a kauli, which had almost blackened because of putting up with the hot flames emanating from the sides of the angithee, where it bravely faced heat. The dreaded kauli again had the same…Kauda tel….which Amma would smear my hair with before plaiting them tightly. The last would be deadliest of the all, with a stroke of her swift hand, Amma would smear my face in the protective cover of ….Kauda Tel.
Come evenings, and back from the evening escapades we would be sskd to wash our hands and feet before having our…. raat ka khana. Hungry for food I would wash my hands but not my feet. But once done with the meals and Amma would sit near the Angithee with us.
…And after that, once again the same kauli would be put near to the Angithee….rather just in front of the opening of the angithee for the last service that Kauda Tel had in our life.
With Bauji snoring in his bed, it would be the girls’ time around the Angithee for Amma, my sister and me. That was the time when Amma would look at us, with such tenderly love. I can understand now that how hard-pressed she must have been with all the work and her continuing studies that where was the time for display of such emotions.
We would sit close to the Angithee where Amma would have put the big water heating vessel called “Tarmayada” on the last flames of Angithee. The daily ritual of washing our feet in hot water was to be solemnised under the hawk like eyes of Amma. She would make us keep our feet dipped and then to scrub off the dead skin with pumice stone. I would dry my wet feet on the jute bori….and wow they looked better…
Once the feet-washing ritual would be done with, we all would sit around the dying flames of Angithee, in a much closer circle, to get the best till the ambers of keri died. Amma would put milk to the last boil of the day. But before that a little of malai would be kept in a katori. This was the secret potion to our beauty.
Winter cold in Simla would make our skin dry and patched, the term we used was “fatt jana”… And simple malai would be the cure for that. Amma would put on our small extended palms a little of malai, the thick creme off the milk, and ask us to apply that on our faces, everyday, before we had our “beauty sleep”.
Later we learnt about the miracles of glycerine and how the skin turns silky smooth in the morning if you are able to tolerate the sticky layer on your face during the night…. I would clamour for glycerine….the multipurpose panacea for everything. Amma would send me to get it in a small lidless glass bottle from Chandel Medical Store and the kind helper would fit the mouth of the bottle with right size of the corked stopper. Glycerine mixed with water or occasionally the rose water would be part of our special beauty treatment plan and not an everyday affair like the ever faithful Kauda Tel….
And today when I look at the aged, wrinkled and sagging but spotless skin of my face….I feel the tingling feeling on my skin that applying of Kauda Tel would resort to.
Before I forget I would make special mention of the Kauda Tel…Bauji bought it only from the Butail’s kohlu and from nowhere else. It was the purest and the deadliest when it came to tingling in eyes and on skin!!!!!
For those who might be wondering what this famous Kauda Tel is…..our very own, the humble Mustard Oil…