Blame this on Monday morning blues (it's already Monday afternoon in India). Like it or not, milk is an unavoidable part of growing up, isn't it?
I remember the gowala (milkman) coming to our house, the aluminium cans full of milk swinging against his bicycle. I would take the large dekchi (bowl) and the chhakni (strainer) and rush to the courtyard when I heard the milkman ringing his bell. Taking off the straw covering the top of the can, he would decant the requisite quarts of sweet-smelling cow's milk in the bowl held in my hands. I loved the pure whiteness of milk, though everybody complained that these gowalas always mixed water with the milk.
Which is why we switched to Mother Dairy's plastic packs, I guess, but this homogenised, toned and hygenic-tasteless milk never had the romance of the earlier experience. Like many people I know, I hated to drink milk when I was a kid. My ma tried, tricked and threatened, but she could never make me like milk. She would try to tempt me by adding Horlicks, or some chocolate flavouring, but I would still go yuck at the slightest excuse.
Later on, she changed tracks and made us delicious milk-and-bread puddings, mango-icecreams, badam (peanut)-icecreams, caramel custard and chhana (cottage-cheese)-sandwiches to give us (my brother and me) our daily quota of disguised-milk. I loved all her concoctions. I even liked the other milk-stuff like doi-bhaat (yogurt-rice) and dudh-chhatu (milk-and-gramflour porridge) that we were made to have because we refused straight milk. I loved sinfully-calorific dollops of butter mixed with spoofuls of sugar. And, strangely enough, I loved milk powder, often stealing spoonfuls of Amul Milk Powder out of the white-and-orange tin during the long, hot afternoons when the rest of the family were having their siesta. (I usually got caught because I could never properly wash off the stubborn-sticky traces of milk powder from the spoon and bowl I used for my ill-gotten feast.) It was just drinking-milk-out-of-a-glass that I did not like.
The only place where I would drink milk without kicking up a fuss was at my Pishi's (father's sister) house. My brother and I would stay over at their (my Pishi's daughter and son, who were nearly the same age as us) place for about a week during the annual summer vacation, and my disciplinarian Pishi would, without fail, give the four of us our daily dose of milk-mixed-with-Bournvita in big brown smiley-printed china mugs. Every morning, I would wake up and face this trauma, along with the wonderful view of docked ships that her balcony provided (she lived in Kidderpore in Kolkata, next to the dockyard), and I would dilly and dally over my milk-moustache till my cup got cold and I could safely leave about a quarter-cup at the bottom!
What are your milk-memories? Traumatic, or taste-of-heaven-ly?