I don’t have a lot of happy memories about primary school. Okay, that would be lying. I don’t have a lot of memories about primary school, period. But one memory that seemed to have stuck around involves food. I can almost hear the collective “aha!” from my closest friends. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, makes an impression on me, as food does. My life is sad like that. So about the memory. I was sitting in my classroom, happily doing whatever it was I did in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] standard, when I smelled something wonderful right outside. I was already starving because it was three hours after lunch and I was going to be trapped that way till I could get home. I sniffed the air some more. I thought I smelled food, delicious food. I squirmed in my seat waiting for the bell to ring so that I could go find out more about that smell. Thankfully, the class ended soon enough, and I rushed right out. It was true, I noted sagely. The delicious smell did indeed mean food. There was some sort of communal cooking happening in the school courtyard. There were stoves and pots and people stirring things. I felt smart then, because I knew what was cooking. Maggi Noodles! I did not ask why my primary schoolmates and I were fed Maggi that day, and neither did I care. I had a bowl full of bliss and it sure hit the spot. I must have been about 5 years old when I had had my very first taste of Maggi noodles. My tiny little brain was blown to smithereens by the delightful yet, extremely strange texture of what I had just eaten. My mother, till then, had kept me on a steady diet of TamBrahm foods that have a staid relationship with spices and none of which was anything like the deliciousness that I had just tasted. My savithri ammai (grandmother) distastefully eyed the goop that my thatha (grandfather) and I could not eat fast enough. We must have enjoyed it too much, for she deemed it too unhealthy to be eaten often. I don’t remember when the episode that I am about to narrate happened, but it was definitely after the “maggi at school” incident. It was weekend and I was wandering around the house, half lost in my important thoughts. I was probably scheming how to steal varathu upperi (banana chips) from the steel sambadam in the store room. My savithri ammai’s upperi is legendary in our family. The saltiness, the crunch and the perfect golden upperi with a tiny orange halo in the middle of it, is an experience in itself. I am digressing and incidentally drooling right now. So back to my little episode. Thatha was nodding off in his easy chair that afternoon, pretending to keep an eye on the people walking on the road outside. Savithri ammai was probably in the kitchen, whipping up something magical with my mother at her beck and call. I heard the call of somebody selling something going past the house. It was a lady selling glass bangles. I called politely for my mother. Polite, not because I was that good a kid, but because any screaming could earn me a pinch or two from my amma or my savithri ammai. My mother might have been in an especially good mood that day, because she decided, I needed some bangles. There was much haggling with the bangle lady but at the end of it all, I had a couple of dozen colorful, noisy glass bangles dancing on my arms. I loved them. I was admiring my bangles, clinking them together, watching the light from the window through them, when I heard. “Anu, Anoooooo”. My mother had drilled in me (again with a lot of pinching) the good manners in responding immediately with, “Tha varen amma”. I shuffled into the kitchen to see a plate filled with, wait for it, MAGGI NOODLES!!! I stood speechless, thinking about how this was turning into the best day ever for me. I was quick to action. I moved towards the thick wood dining table covered with linoleum and clambered up the stool and prepared to get right down to it. “Anu, wait!” my mother cautioned. I stopped and waited. “Take one plate to thata in the front hall and then you can eat”. I looked at her in desperation. I wanted my noodles right now, but to do anything than what I had been just told, was to incur the wrath of my mother. I sighed. I got down from the stool. Grabbed the plate that was intended for thatha, and propelled towards the front hall. My grandparents’ house, has a shotgun layout. From the front door, main hall, past the middle bedroom, the kitchen and bathrooms, you had a straight shot to the backyard. So I ran the opposite way, from the kitchen to the bedroom to the main hall, calling out “thathaaaaa nooooodleeeeesss”. In my eagerness to get past the threshold into the main hall, I lost my footing, I tripped and went down with a crash. I did not have time to dramatically shout “Noooooo” as I hit the floor, shattering most of the bangles in my hands and spilling thatha’s portion of the noodles. Amma came running into the front hall with savithri ammai. I sat down and cried my little heart out, distraught over the beautiful broken bangles and the wasted delicious noodles. My mother did not scold me that day, not for running in the house, not for falling down or for dropping the food. I shared my noodles with thatha that day as I looked at the sad couple of bangles left in my hands. That was definitely not a good day. I think it was that day of tears that cemented my love for tinkling, fleeting glass bangles. I chose to wear them on my wedding day, much to the chagrin of my friends. I wore them that day, remembering the happy times and the sad ones I had growing up. I wore them in honor of the whiplash we get as life jerks us around. I wore them because I knew that my husband hated them, but he would marry me anyway. They made me feel a little extra lucky that day. There is another important lesson I learnt on that day that will stay with me forever. I always remember to walk a little extra slow when I am carrying my plate of noodles.