Written and voice over by Ms. Jyotsna Joshi
I remember we had a variety of pickles to choose from, at the onset of each summer holidays. My mother with assistance from my grandmother and aunt would find time to make mango, jackfruit, carrot, lemon, green chillies, turmeric, garlic, red chillies, and so many pickles. Packaged in small and colorful bone china containers, they made sure that there was never a meal with pickle as a side dish not served. So much so, pickle-jars were also shared with the relatives, as and when they would come to our home. I remember my maternal uncle send with us a big jar filled with mango pickle made out of the mangoes of our courtyard garden, each year as we visited our home town every summer holidays.
Turning back the tide, this time I thought to time travel and relive one part of my summer holidays. Both my husband and I, who love spending time together after office hours, by engaging ourselves in doing something productive, thought to make mango pickles. This plan was made easy by provisioning of large supplies of raw mango from the orchard near his office. The keeper of the orchard, who likes both of us, gave two bags full of raw mangoes to him one fine day. And hence started our plan execution. Going through the entire pickle making process rekindled so many long lost memories. Memories of carrying paratha and pickle in our tiffin box to school. Back then, I would always complaint to my mother, that why she doesn’t send items like maggi and bread-jam in my tiffin box, much like many kids brought. To my complaint each time, she would have one answer with a composed face- “It’s good and healthy for you”. Cut to present, while making breakfast and lunch in early morning hours, before both my husband and I leave for our respective offices, I feel the diligence with which my mother would have prepared our tiffin box by 7 am everyday. And that too with such items which take time in preparation. I immediately called her to express how difficult but exciting this mango pickle making was seeming to us. Also, I asked her in awe “Mom, how could you make so many pickles back then? I’m sure you loved making it and had interest in it”. Her demeanor still unperturbed by all praises and acknowledgement, her simple answer was, “It was just another household chore for me, which I tried to manage well”.
Well, that statement was something profound. It led me to a deeper level of introspection that why such activities have become a mode for relaxation for working-couples like us. As I see social media posts of my peers and friends filled with activities such as gardening, recording songs, baking at home, and so on, I realize that generation Z and milennials seem to find solace in such activities, other than their mundane office schedules. For us, making pickles, or baking cakes, or recording our songs and dances is a thing of pleasure, and is done by choice. However back then, during the hey days of our previous generations, activities like cooking food at home, making pickles, maintained the garden, were not a function of a person’s choice. It was a daily chore, which they had to do it mandatorily. Just like we get worn and torn by our office schedules, homemakers in previous generation who predominantly spent most of their time in doing household chores got so used to such activities, that may be it did not excite them so much. Have you ever heard people from our grandfather’s/father’s generation saying that they walked for more than 5 km everyday or cycled a distance of nearly 10 km everyday. No, right? But today, we find joy in pursuing such activities away from our normal work life.
All in all, as society progressed from joint families to nuclear families, activities which were once considered as a community based affair are being enjoyed at an individual level, information about which is disseminated to the community via the social media. Life, comes a full 360 degree, indeed!