‘But there’s onion in the upma’

You’ve got to be pristine in thought, word and deed when Ganapati Bappa’s visiting. And that goes for the food, too. The fridge is purged of all taamasik stuff a few days ahead. The onion and garlic drawer is out of bounds. So when gen Y pulls out some leftover upma from the fridge for breakfast on chaturthi morning gen X says, “But there’s onion in the upma!”

For decades, our annual family Ganesh in Mumbai used to come from the idol-making Khanvilkar family deep in the innards of Girgaum. They would make murtis big and small all year long from Pen’s famous clay, locally called chikaN maati, for sale on this special day.

Khanvilkar Senior would talk to my uncle and father saying how idol making was “God’s work,” as we waited for him to hand over our murti to us. Their work was worship – for worship. Everything was pristine in and around the workshop, he would say.

I understand there isn’t much demand for chikaN maati these days because they don’t make too many idols in Mumbai. They come from cheap, cheap China, I hear. When a Chinese-made bappa visits a home does gen X stop to think if the worker who put him together had had pork dumplings in his lunch break?

Here in New Zealand an exporter has retrofitted a factory to comply with halal requirements before exporting poultry to the Middle East. I wonder if a consumer there worries that a Kiwi factory worker may have wolfed down a ham sandwich for lunch.

Pristineness can’t hold candle to profit. Bappa knows. If he doesn’t mind a post-chow tamaasik burp while a worker gives him the finishing touches in a faraway land, I’m quite sure he won’t mind onion in the upma.

I don’t know about you but I’m off to help myself to some really pristine modaks.