what do they really tell about the carrier? as in the person, not the container…
i always carried one box wonders, mixed rice with a sprinkling of veggies, chappatis rolled with veggies, idli or dosai smeared with podi… and sometimes leftover prawn or chicken curry mixed into rice (before i turned veg).
and then i would see friends who carried 2 or 3 storeyed tiffin boxes. veggies in one, curd in another, rice or rotis in yet another… i assumed their mothers just cared more… cared enough to load them with boxes of food. where as mine and a few others slammed bread and likes into one plastic dubba, and were done with their maternal duties.
so when one proud owner of multi-storeyed tiffin box invited us home, we were expecting a full spread of goodies.
we were not to be disappointed… the food was there. prepared and served by maids exported from some remote andhra village. the mother was away somewhere, and we heard the father is around only some times, and the rest of the inhabitants of the house — the uncles and aunts — were not really on talking terms with each other. but who cared right? everytime you wanted some yummy pakoda, you just had to call mani or ganga or whoever it was on duty, and voila, it materialised on the plate.
at home, pakodas were for weekends. and if you begged real bad, you would be whacked for making a nuisance of yourself.
but this friend quite enjoyed eating at my place. but to give my mum her due, it was only in packing the box that she sought the short cut. otherwise a table of dishes were a norm. and she would embarass me by hovering around us ladling out second servings of boring rasam and podalanga poriyal.
many many years later, married and with kids, when i met this friend, she said those were the best meals she had tasted. and that though she has a cook, she packs her son’s food, and serves him herself, while at home.
there is something to be said about boring, mundane details of life… it can be romanticised after a bit of pickling and ageing.