Monday, April 21, 2008


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?


lopamudra said...

I always loved milk.I still remember my dadu had a couple of cows in his place because he refused the idea of buying milk. He would insist every guest who set foot in the house to have a very big tumbler of unadulterated milk.This particular habit of my dadu borne many hilarious incidents.I am not discussing that here.A man would come every evening to milk the cows.I was fascinated by the way the milk made 'chai chui' sound when it hit the metal bucket.If my dadu was around he would make me open my mouth and the 'gawala' would directly spray milk in my mouth from the udders.I loved the rich delicious fresh milk and never drank any other milk when I was in my hometown.Here in US we get milk in gallon size.I read for the 'no growth hormones injected to the cow' sign ,get them out of the fridge and put them back in the fridge at home.My daughter eats cold cereal by directly pouring milk from the fridge.We don't boil milk here.Nobody does.I find even the full cream milk is tasteless.I don't drink milk here anymore.

The Scatterbrain said...

I remember my traumatic compulsory milk drinking days. My Amma, being the ever resourceful person that she is, devised a clever plan with our next door neighbour (tina's mom). Every evening, at around 4, Tina's mom and Amma would sit on the verandah with their respective glasses of milk and we would begin the milk game. Tina and I would take a sip from our own mugs and then run across to take a sip from the other cup. As we passed each other, we would do a hi 5!! it worked wonders! the milk would be gone in less than 5 mins!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Very nice - I'm a sucker for nostalgia and reminiscences.


The Scatterbrain said...

Thanks for the encouraging comment on my blog. you bet i'll be a constant vivitor to your blog!
One correction. My Amma is my mother and not my grandmother!

Anonymous said...

I have always loved milk in all forms including "Milkose" or was it "milcose" - the cold, flavoured milk available around kolkata in the 80's? However, i think you should also talk about how much you liked milkmaid.. and also home-made condensed milk.. remember fighting over whatever remained in the utensils after dadu(grandpa) was served his "ghanodoodh" (condensed milk)??

SwAtI said...

Cute post :)
Thanks for dropping by my blog and for all the lovely comments!!

This post is too cute.. hehe..
My experience has been rather traumatic. Just like you, I prefer milk products & derivatives like Custard & Cottage cheese to the glass of milk..
But there are these rare moments now..when I am struck by the health conscious lightening thought and consume that occasional glass of milk.. :)

Do keep visiting my blogs..Will do the same! :)
Best Wishes

SwAtI said...

I really like that Susan Sontag quote you'v put on ur blog page.. :)
Its so true!!

Pratibha Hottigimath said...

Really interesting writing. It conjures up images of the milk man I held out my steel utensil to. :)
As for drinking milk, I dont remember raising a fuss ever. Mom was a disciplinarian and we (brothers and me) even finished the curry leaves in our food. :)

Aleta said...

You won't find me crying over milk. I enjoy the product. It's good for lowering blood pressure. I especially enjoy a cold glass of milk with hot apple pie or even a small glass of it before going to sleep if I find that my thoughts won't rest. I get the gallon size as well.

I enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love milk. I remember never having it as a child, though. Thanks for the well wishing!

mm said...

It's funny that when we were young our parents always complained how the milkman diluted the milk by adding water.
Here, in an attempt to be health conscious we are always on the quest for 2% milk, 1% milk, non-fat milk and so on.
I did not hate milk as such - what I disliked was that thin layer of cream that would form on top when the boiled milk would cool down.
As I said - parents felt that the milk itself was of a diluted variety - so they thought that the thin layer of cream would do wonders to our health.
Those days parents were trying to see us "healthy" and nowadays in the days for fear of obesity we are all so "health conscious". Anyways that thin layer
of cream if present in my cup of milk would make me throw up but my parents never stopped forcing me to eat that. So I had to find out ways when my parents
were not looking to get the strainer from the kitchen to "clean up" my cup of milk.

People here do not warm milk - they have it directly from the refrigerator. However I still warm my bowl or cup of milk for a minute in the microwave and then have it with cereal. My son has also developed this habit of having warm milk. At school they are served cold milk direct from the refrigerator.
However at home it has to be warmed and has to be at an optimum temp. or my son would complain "beshi hot" or "beshi cold"

Jaquanda Rae said...

Interesting that you have a post about milk. My dad does research on dairy nutrition so all my life I've lived on farms. I always loved milk. Hot milk with cornflakes, Milo, Horlicks etc.

The second farm I moved to got me up close and personal with cows. I'd go to the dairy and watch the suction tubes being placed on the udders and watching the milk just fill up the glass vats. At that time, I drank all the farm products for cheap cheap...milk, chocolate milk, egg nog, ice cream. Good thing I was a kid and couldn't sit still, I was too active to be affected negatively by my constant intake.

These days the dairy sector is a joke. Tired of dumping milk, our farmers resort to slaughtering their cows. So, now there's a whole lot of patties and a whole lot of imported milk powder....

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks for the "milk of human kindness" in responding to my blog. I'm enjoying our memories much, much more than I ever enjoyed milk.

tina said...

i loved milk as a toddler. when i was being weaned from the bottle i would go to the kitchen and stare at one of the wooden cabinets on one of the walls; i had seen my bottle in there once when someone left the cabinet door open, and though my mother had shown me that it wasn't kept there anymore i still went back to it every chance i got. my mother eased me into drinking from a glass by putting my milk in a plastic glass with a special spout that vaguely mimicked a bottle's nipple. by the time i was drinking milk from a glass i had already grown tired of milk; it was as if my biological need for it had switched off automatically, and i refused to drink milk afterwards.

a few years later my mother forced me to drink milk every morning to boost my growth. her decision was unfortunate for my stomach, which had begun to cramp on milk. lactose intolerance runs in my family, and although mine seems to be the weakest - everyone else can't drink milk, and get upset stomachs after eating anything that has a lot of milk in it - at the time my mother was making me drink milk my stomach was being particularly ornery. i complained, but she wouldn't listen to me. i had to go through years of having gas / stomachaches on my way to school, and that was only from drinking half a cup of milk in the morning. when i finished high school and had to live in a college dormitory i was finally free from milk, or so i thought. it's been four years since then, and now i've rekindled my love of milk. thankfully my stomach has not complained, only occasionally :) i'm still careful not to drink milk when my stomach is a little edgy, just to be sure.