“Chinni Mitti” mugs and “Kanse ki Thaalis”…Simla of the Sixties

“Chinni Mitti” mugs and “Kanse ki Thaalis”…Simla of the Sixties

“Bone China” was l word we learnt much later though we called it Chinni Mitti crockery or China clay ….and how admiringly I would look at the excuisite porcelain dinner sets displayed in the show window of Jankidass! I would stop there, on my way back from Lady Irwin school, and watch admiringly all those wares which were displayed in the show windows. There were beautiful tea sets as well with cups and saucers complete with tea kettle and all those milk and sugar pots…. How stylish it would be to eat out of these…the musical sound which the stirring of sugar in the cup would make…my imagination would go wild!!

But as soon as I would go down the stairs to my home, I would forget about all those dreams and would love to have my cuppa in a simple plain cup…. of white Chinni mitti..we would call “pyaali”!!! And while sipping tea I would think of the futility of having that excuisite tea set, displayed in the show window, as Amma boiled tea in the pateela adding adrak, illaychee so what was the use of getting that tea set!

But dreams are dreams especially when they fill the eyes of a small kid living in much happening Lower Bazaar of Simla in the Sixties where the markets were full of everything I could dream of. I had literally forgotten about the tea set when another dream started taking shape.
Dream of beautiful porcelain mugs which had stormed Simla in the Sixties. Delicate mugs with intricate design making beautiful sound when tapped with knuckles! And it was at this time that Bengal Crockeries, if I recollect the name correctly, opened a big, spacious, ceiling-high shop near the Meat market and another shop in the Lower Bazaar. Mugs of all colours and designs were displayed starting from the entrance itself. The cheaper variety was put in baskets at the floor level but the delicate ones were displayed on the higher racks. These were the ones I wanted to have.

I imagined the colour it would add to our small baithak when these would be displayed in the almirah with glass doors. So there they went….proudly displayed on the shelf of the almirah where they got the best visibility. And as for everyday use….plain white cups with saucers, having a brown coloured imprint, were performing the job…. relentlessly. These were so convenient. The saucers could be used as plates to serve “Sevian” or to sip tea from if it was very hot….sadoop sadoop!!! So we got two sets of mugs…one gor daily use and another set for doecial occasions. The ones for daily use went to the kitchen to vie for a space, alongwith all sundry items like glasses, cups and katoris, on.a wooden plank fixed on the kitchen wall.

The special mugs, sadly, waited for their turn to be held by a beutiful hand and touch lips of a delicate beauty for a long time. As many a times when their service was needed, the door of the almirah could not be opened because the guests sat very near to it and to ask them to move a little away to bring the mugs out was well neigh impossible।
We learnt to bring out the mugs well in time before a guest made her benign presence to our small home. But tired of all this exercise….they were best kept displayed on the shelf of almirah, behind the glass door!

And as for Bone China dinner set was concerned there was neither any need nor the resources….”Kanse di Thaalis” were perfect for savouring “daal chawal”…our staple diet!

In the long Fifty-years of my life… Which can be called the acquisition phase in anyone’s life, I, too, acquired the best of Bone China crockery…dinner sets and tea sets and all the matching cutlery…. All those objects that I had dreamed of! But most of the time all it was put in the beautifully carved wooden crockery shelf to be used very rarely while having a formal dinner! While most of the time, we savoured our food in steel plates!! It was so convenient and comfortable. And since a decade when the benefits of using brass and “Kanse ke bartan” became the in things for healthy lifestyle, we shifted to “Kanse ki Thaalis” to savour our simple food served in!

Now when I am packing all those delicate pieces to-be-handled-with-care…. of crockery and cutlery that would find another shelf to be displayed on, I am thinking of those porcelain mugs, purchased from Bengal crockery shop near the Meat market in Simla. How proudly we had displayed them on a shelf, behind the glass panes, in a small home in Lower Bazaar of Simla in the Sixties!!

And while packing these delicate porcelain, collected over the years, I am planning for a perfect shelf to put all these to display, though serving very little purpose in our life now. But they are being packed so very carefully….

My all time faithful steel and Kanse ki Thaalis are being put in a cardboard package as they still are strong. Rugged but still strong and faithful.. having served us for all these years.

How strange it is…..the ones who served us so faithfully are being taken for granted and the ones who served only to add a sham style are still getting all the attention and care. I knew that the only purpose these would serve would be to add style to our simple life at occasions when I would feel the need to impress someone! When would I learn to live my life, my own way….I rued while pouring my morning tea in big mugs that define my life today!

Have we not wasted our life investing in objects etc. which have only ornamental value in our life and in the process taking for granted all those who faithfully withstood the ravages of time and age ..with us, without a complaint! What a life journey!

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