It is unbelievable that today, freshly-baked chapatis are everywhere on the back streets of rural and urban cities and that they get spoiled in the fridge because of lack of demand at home. The easy availability of chapati has stolen the magic.
Back in the day, eating chapati was an event; chapati was a once-only delicacy per year, mostly around Christmas.
On the day of cooking chapati, everybody in the village would know, because the Prime Minister of the house would send the kids very early in the morning to pick the chapati cooking-kit, comprising the wooden rolling board; the wooden rolling pin; and the round, durable heavy-duty, flat, very black chapati pan. There was only one chapati cooking-kit in the whole village and therefore proper planning and ordering in good time was of the essence. It would be picked from the last house which cooked chapati, which was no secret in the village.
The day of cooking chapatis, children, including those in the neighborhood would not sleep until all chapatis are finished. It was a cat and mouse game with the parents. One had to go first, the chapatis or the sleep.
And children would use every trick to ensure they had maximum helpings of chapati on that day.
It was common to use ingenious tricks to find way into the homes of neighbours making chapati. One such was to make salt “disappear” to necessitate a trip to the neighbour’s to borrow some.
If successful, the chapati would be pinched in bits on the way back home as one walked slowly to avoid getting home too quickly which would necessitate sharing with others, or to avoid having to shove the remaining bits into the pockets of torn pairs of shorts.
Eating chapati was actually a competition of sorts among children. It was as if there was an unwritten rule that said, “eating less than five chapatis was an abomination”.
The culmination of the chapati-eating craze was foul flatulence smell in the whole neighborhood for the following few days.
The chapati-cooking kit, just like a trophy, would reside undisturbed until it was collected by the next house that was in line to cook chapati.