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:: BackTrack ::

If life were painted on a canvas, it would have been coloured by memories. Bright ones for those wonderful childhood days; fresh ones for the unforgettable teen years; gray for all those difficult times; sober ones for the responsible days of adulthood… And the most beautiful shade of them all would be reserved for those memories that demonstrate ones intimate bonding with the homeland.

BackTrack is a homeward bound journey to find those beautiful colours and catch a fistful of stars shining on the Mangalore horizon. --Suzy Fontes


Crying Over Spilt Milk

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By Suzy Fontes [ Published Date: August 7, 2005 ]

The most confounding thing, I have learnt as a new `non’ NRI, is pouring milk from the sealed plastic packets on to the milk cooker, first thing in the mornings.

What the… ?

Seriously, the blasted thing simply gives way, letting milk flow from whichever side that it fancies. There have been mornings when, after making a small incision, I have looked helplessly at the milk seeping out of the packet and on to the kitchen counter and well, to the floor as if it had reached its destination.

The milk still manages to ooze out more than it gets into the container on which it is lightly placed, but I have been wiser to its tricks. I manouever this delicate task from the kitchen sink, washing off all the signs of my folly with the running tap. Memories of wiping away the milk from the counter and the floor, and then trying to wash away the milk from that soiled cloth, is still fresh.

Whoever conceived this brilliant plan of dispensing milk through plastic packets, would never have thought of the practical problems, or so it seems. The packets seemingly become slippery the minute you cut off a bit to let the milk flow on to the container, and well. But if you cannot find that scissor…

...A handbook of sorts, detailing the hows and wheres of finding things as new Non NRI’s, would go a long way in helping my lot....

A couple of weeks after my first attempt to get the better of the packet, I tried to make an opening from the bottom – of course any side could be the bottom – and goodness me, was that a milky avalanche or what…

It was a futile attempt to race through the minds of the manufacturers to come up with a eureka screaming answer that the packets were made so, so that a slight cut from the bottom could let it come down easily on to the container. So much for being methodical, nay obtuse.

So, whatever happened to those pretty little milk bottles; the ones that were designed to look like dainty little maidens, complete with shiny silvery caps…?

And whatever happened to those big bosomed ladies who had huge cows in their backyards that were milked mornings and evenings for the neighbourhood families to buy?

As a little girl, it was a joy trip to the milk lady’s home with friends from the neighbourhood. A little skip, some more hop and there, that was the milk lady’s house. We would quietly queue up – she had a plump and matronly look and that kinda quietened our lot – with our little milk containers. The way back would be less skippy and hoppy; we had been taught all about spilled milks and all that.

Why such home ventures dwindled and slowly vanished, is anybody’s guess. Just like the eternal neighbourhood rambling `how much water has been added to the milk’ was…

Heard from my sister in Bangalore that some ladies now bring cows to the doorstep and milk them fresh for a slightly higher fee. That’s as fresh as any milk can get, I presume.

Will the trend catch up and will we return back to our neat and homely going-to-the-cow-to-get-the-milk days? I guess people are hard pressed for time to walk to the milk when milk can as easily come to their doorstep.

And so, despite all the pesky little problems posed by the present day milk packets, they roost the market. May be it isn’t such a problem for those who have been `Resident’ Indian’s since the milk packets first prodded the market. I must confess that I have been amazed at the skill my ma demonstrates in pouring the contents of the packet into her milk cooker. That she can be clumsy when it comes to most other things should teach me something.

Have been thinking lately about the hazards of getting bang into `Non’ NRI status without any preparation and without unlearning many things. The milky trail I create every morning is just a manifestation of this unpreparedness.

A handbook of sorts, detailing the hows and wheres of finding things as new Non NRI’s, would go a long way in helping my lot. I still get jumpy when I climb buses. That I was an ace at boarding and getting off the bus as a collegian is another column material.

In these last couple of months, I have had the dunce cap on my confused little head every time I ventured into the market. The fish market never fails to present me with their dunce-of-the-day award. Am sure the ladies smirk, hi-five or whatever, the minute I turn my back to seek an auto.

But well, I manage to feel a winner by simply calculating the price against the one I used to pay in the recent past.

Whether that helps or not, the feeling of oneness I experience every time I look at the sky or turn my eye towards the panorama of greenery staring at me from my window, does.


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gautham, USA :
Nice article, i suddenly remember that I need a milk cooker badly. Where can I get in US?
Kamran Rehmat, Pakistan:
Many of you readers out there may be new to Suzy, but I have been a long time admirer of her ability to penetrate the deep recesses of the mind in discerning human emotions.

I still retain a couple of her gems; in one, she advised a vascillating friend to show some "courage" and tie the knot. The heart-to-heart was aptly abbreviated LTC: Love, Tenderness, Care.

The second was about the Ebb and Flow of Life. It was heart-achingly beautiful!

In another time and perhaps, with a greater reach, she would have ranked alongside the best of her genre, but that never took away from how she put her heart and soul into writing -- only to stir ours!

More power to Suzy.
Menderline Machado, India :
Hi Suzy,
Wonderful article.

Proud to tell my family that you were my classmate, hope you remember me........

Keep it up,

Chelli Silvakelli, India :
Excellent Article Suzy...

An experience always gone thru but never thot would make such an excellent topic for an article....!!!

You really have the pulse

Thanks for the article
rashmi fernandes, UAE:
You just get better every time, Suzy! Good luck with all those Nandini and Hangyo milk packets, girl!
Love, Rashmi.
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