After the hard work , boring 5 periods which seemed much longer than 45 minutes. Hands painted with the ink that spilled while trying to make it to the ink pens came the saviour. Recess. Tiffins made there way out. Hands washed.
Bhindi wrapped in chapatti, bread jams, stuffed prantha, and for a few lucky ones treat came in the form of rajma chawal and Alloo puri.
Birthdays and festivals were different where vegetable cutlet and maggi found its way to our tummies. And a piece of barfi or ladoo just brightened our day.
The remaining 4 periods in school passed with comparatively more ease with guts full and minds hovering as to what Maa might have cooked for lunch.
The only accomplishments we were aware of in those times was tomato ketchup. Those cousins who stayed abroad, when they demanded mustard sauce we would idolize them .
Cut to now : 2016
I am a mother to a preschooler, and my attempt to feed my son healthy is all in vain. The tiffin sees the light of the day only if I have sent chocolate cookies or Smiley’s and fries,waffers and muffins, Pastas and wraps.
Any kind of fruit, nuts and sabzi is looked down upon. The first question he asks , after seeing my face after school , is basically an inquiry as to why I packed what I did that day. I am scrutinized. I had planned his tiffin so religiously.
Hard pressed for time, working moms my heart goes out to you. Managing a tiffin of a school going child is a task in itself. The planning for tomorrow starts as soon as today’s tiffin is packed. How do you do it all super mom’s?
Here is my list of Tiffin and packed food in today’s time
Fries: Frozen food was unheard of when we went to school. The only frozen food we knew of was icecream. And this delight was reserved for occasions. When we asked for chips, Our moms used to cut potatoes dip them in besan (gram flour) and that was a treat. Now, a tiffin full of fries can make any child smile. Be he a first grader or tenth.
Dips : Ketchup ketchup and more ketchup. That was the kind of dip available. That too we had to beg our mother’s. There only concern, you’ll have a sore throat if you eat that thing too much.
Now jalapeos,garlic,sweet chilly, yogurt based, chocolate based. Just quiz your child on the number of dips they can name. You’ll be shell shocked.
Sandwich: The only bread available at my home was white bread. Or milk bread from bakery that was not always available because of heavy demand.
Now even brown bread is pass, Panini’s, focaccia, multigrain,wholewheat, garlic, cheese, fruit, oats. There is an endless list of them. With spreads ranging from different flavoured cheese to nutellas. Making a sandwich to suit their palate is nothing less than a science experiment.
The only sandwich my generation was aware of was butter on bread accompanied by cucumber and tomatoes.
And burgers were all about Alloo tikki between the buns. Who knew mayonnaise , and its variants.
Junk has become delectable and inevitable.
Cornflakes: I abhorred them. Tasteless, colourless, boring. Now chocolate, banana,strawberry, with nuts,without nuts. Shaped like moon, stars, you name it you get it. They are so tempting, that they are regular favourite in tiffins.
Popcorns and wafers: They never featured on 90’s tiffin list simply because of there nutritional values. They were never substitited for real food.Crax, uncle chips, binny chips were given only as incentives when we did something right. Bole mere lips, I love___
Beverages: It was every child’s delight to sneak sharbat’s and home made lemonade in water bottles to school. And share your secret with a friend.
Today’s school going generation is addicted to colas and artificially flavoured drinks. Things we only saw on vacations.
The question is though unavoidable how much is too much when it comes to junk. Kids as young as 4 are suffering from obesity. Type 2 diabetes. Blood pressure. The problem is majorly eating habits. Mothers try to learn endless recipes from friends, television and internet. They curate the best of menus comprising of greens and soups and nuts. But do the kids accept it. In the end a mother succumbs to the pressure, she just wants her child to eat. They give in to the sobs of her kid demanding junk. Barring a few , hardly any child enjoys chidwas,khichdi, upmas,idli’s and veggies like baigan, lauki,spinach in there food. Serve a pizza. You will be the best.
The solution,Many schools have now asked the parents to send two tiffins with children, one comprises of home cooked food and second one with pre cut fruits.
The question is how practical is it to force feed healthier options . With growing advertisements about various kinds of fast food biggies and other junk like fries and candies and chocolate suprise eggs .Now the kids not just only know what they want to eat but also the brand which they prefer. ‘Globasity‘ has become an epidimic. And I as a mother am too worried about my child being a part of this junk culture.