It's been exactly two years since Pratham Books published 'A Man Called Bapu' to commemorate the great man's 60th year of martyrdom in 2008. Today, as I think about the work that went into the book, I find myself smiling .
Subhadadra Sen Gupta wrote the story in record time, and Neeta Gangopadhya did the lovely illustrations quickly. The layout was done, the translations were done in ten languages, and then when we looked at the pdf, we decided the book needed a bit more seasoning. So we dug up facts about Mahatma Gandhi from a little book called 'Hundred Facets of Gandhiji', compiled by Prof.Krishnaswamy, a retired physics lecturer, scientist and Gandhian who helps run a schoolfor the under-served in Bangalore.
We found a note about Gandhiji's daily menu and one word baffled us---kedgeree. So we quickly got down to some 'research' and here is what I mailed my colleagues one evening:
“...And as for kedgeree, a character in the Miss Marple story 'The 4.50 Paddington' that we watched today (BBC DVD from British Council), mentions that the one made by the pretty new housekeeper (in the story) is the best!
Kedgeree comes from the Hindi work for Khichdee, but all the recipes on the Net involve fish! Think Gandhiji would have eaten that??”
Manisha, my colleague in Delhi, checked her dictionary and found out that while the English added fish to their kedgeree, the Indians added onions. Sampurna wanted to know if anyone had a recipe for kedgeree that she could try out.
That evening, two people on the Pratham Books team made kedgeree, one without fish, and the other without fish or onions.Since we were in two different cities, we could not judge each other's culinary creations......but Gandhiji was a topic of conversation that day and for many more days in our household.
Thanks to freedom fighters like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and others, we have the freedom to write what we want, and share it with whomever we want!
Jai Hind! And may Peace prevail on earth!
By the way, if you are inspired by Gandhiji's simple menu, try eating a bowl of chopped bananas sprinkled liberally with powdered groundnuts some day, and this would taste even better topped with some honey.