What’s it with women and dabbas? Any shape, any size, plastic or steel, glass or brass, single or box in box in box in box , plain or colour coordinated, ordinary or microwave-able…women (any shape and size) simply love boxes!
I remember woman vendors carrying stainless steel vessels in baskets on their heads being called by my grandmother and sometimes my mother. I could see desire in their eyes when they saw those steel boxes. I always wondered why they needed more steel vessels, when the kitchen was already so full of them. But there was always one box or vessel with a different shape, different size, that they wanted, and they always managed to find a use for it.
It was a barter system---steel vessels for old clothes. Out came the old sarees, shirts and pants, and then began the bargaining. My mother would give them a HUGE pile of clothes and the woman would offer a tiny vessel in return! My mother would casually ask for a large box; the woman would say, “no, no…I cannot give you that one; you must be joking”. The woman would then ask for sarees with zari (gold work) on them My mother would not give her any zari sarees, but maybe add one more old saree and shirt, and finally, after about two hours of haggling, the woman would walk away with the basket of steel vessels on her head, and in her arm, the pile of old clothes wrapped in one of the sarees.
As she walked away, she left behind two women overjoyed with the new dabba in the kitchen, perhaps triumphant too, that they finally got what they wanted!
Here’s another scene. Just watch a woman walking around in a supermarket or a mall. Watch her as she nears a shelf with boxes on it. She will slow down…oh yes, she will! She will pick up a box and hold it lovingly, turn it around, try to open it, look inside…if it is a box in box in box, she will open all the lids and put them all back, caress the box, sigh (thinking of the number of boxes she already has) and place it back with great reluctance.
She will similarly pick up the other kinds of boxes that are there, again touch them, sigh, and put them back. Sometimes she will walk away from the shelf with a stern resolve, pick up other things she had actually gone there for, but slowly return to the shelf with boxes, hesitantly pick up a box, put it in her basket. Sometimes she will put it back yet again, but pick it up, as she is suddenly convinced that she really and truly needs that box!
So what’s it with women and dabbas? Simple…as I said earlier, women just love boxes. And it is a harmless love affair, best left alone and not reasoned out, and most important, not questioned!