My masala box or the spices box is a steel box, all over. Good old steel. No plastic, and hence Iam eco-friendly. Feels good. This good feeling got a bit of a rattle last month, though. Going by reports coming in from the deep world of scientists and virology, the virus survives on steel longer. I look around my kitchen.. there is steel everywhere. I glance at my steel masala box with a grave, cautious look. Iam now a wee bit wary to touch it. Common sense says - you are the only user of this humble dubba - so, if it has the virus on it - only you could have put it there. Alarmed at that thought, you peer again cautiously at it - and leave the thought aside. Better ask no one to touch it.. and keep it away. You kind of push it a bit deeper into the wall... This is edgy. Iam just glad I didn't go ahead with putting a steel extension to my kitchen platform. I needed a little space to hold my new juicer. Was mulling over asking a local factory guy to make me a steel cabinet. Nay! perish the thought now. Should I try cardboard? I remember there was this wholesaler in cardboards in one of my WA groups. Or an alloy of copper? The discussions go on. We are still in the storming phase of teaming up with the virus and living with it peacefully or evicting it with a thanks. Destiny will roll the dice over, hopefully in our favor. All of us are survivors, after all - our great grand parents must have survived the 1918 pandemic, so here we are, discussing the merits of a spice box. I just don't remember how my mom used to store her spices. How can I remember something that I never saw, viewed, touched or used? The only time I would even go to the kitchen was to take my omelette and roti. So, to be correct, I must say that I never saw my mom add masalas - which I regret ever so often. Be that as it may, the humble box rolled into my kitchen roughly about two decades back. The quality was never good, the lid would often split or the edges would break and I would have to buy a new one. Being a hoarder, I would keep aside the tiny bowls for future use. The future is here, now in the present - the number of those bowls have piled up - sitting ensconced in an oily plastic bag. Somewhere around the time Tupperware sprouted its presence in our locality, there were these three to four vociferous, go-getter type ladies who would be able to sell these plastic containers to all of us. Glib talk, effusive flattery, good kitchen storage advice, and sheer grit made them successful in their craft. No MBA. The MBA professors can learn a thing or two from them. Even the Finance guys on how to dole out installment schemes. I ended up buying two nice round huge and red spice boxes, which had around 8 bowls and a center piece bowl, all red. My mom had passed away around this time, she loved the color red. Teary hearted, I had bought two red pieces. If she was alive, she would have peremptorily asked me to return both. But, now I have these two fully rounded boxes. I had kept one aside for a gift. My tryst with the uber-effective container ended quite early. These have an almost patented method of closing the lid. You need to whack the center of the lid and smack it in from all sides at once. or maybe you should do it gently? Whatever, when you have a 8 AM cab to catch to rush to office, you can't be messing around with 8 bowls, a suction-operated lid and a huge base. You need to go back to the humble steel box. This time, I bought one with a plastic, clear lid - so that you can see what's in it. before opening. Which is a no-brainer. A meticulous, alpha cook will know what is in every crevice of the wall of her kitchen, so you can be sure she will know how many grams of turmeric is remaining. Why will she require a see-through lid? Folks like me, who are forever wondering what they are doing in the kitchen, will have to make do with whatever masala is there. No turmeric? Don't add. No salt? pull out that salt packet. No chilly powder? Use green chillies. So, of what use is the transparent lid? But such a lid did honor me with its presence in my kitchen for a while. For a brief period of time, I did play the role of a dreamy-eyed homemaker. Comes from watching too many of those TV shows and browsing. The perfect dining table must have good dining mats, a flower vase in the middle, a discrete tooth pick holder and of course, a spice rack. So, we had bought this nice spice rack and I had filled it lovingly with all spices I could find or had to buy to fill the empty bottles. It was a nice feeling. Sit at the table and roll the spice rack over and sprinkle the chat masala powder. But, there was a catch. Sometimes, it wouldn't spray evenly. Sometimes the masala would have coagulated, almost getting hard. You had to tap the bottle a bit. And then over the weekends, when you had some time, you had to refill them. Now, here comes my pet peeve. You pull out that chat masala pack, and pour it in the bottle. what do you do with the remaining powder? You quickly empty one bowl in the masala box and add this there. There is always some left in the packet - the bowl capacity does not match the quantity that comes in the pack. There is always some extra or something less. Am I complaining? Of course not - All I am saying is we should knock some sense into the designers of these kitchen devices and the guys who ship packaged food. It should be seamless - container sizes and package sizes must be well integrated, as a software geek would say. But, I give a bow to the inventor of this humble box - which allows all of us to quickly add spices while cooking, hassle-free. Will have to google about its history - am sure Wikipedia will have something to say about its origins. Meanwhile, once the maids are back, I better clear up the clutter. I wouldn't want to leave a legacy of broken spice boxes to my progeny.