at the tail end of the summer vacation mama would take my sibling and i shopping for the new school year. there were books to be bought and uniforms too. the most exciting element was buying a lunch box. the one that stands out in my memory was baby pink with a large picture of minnie mouse on the front. m had a turtle green one with a scene from ninja turtles. inside the lunchbox was a rectangular lidded box to hold lunch and a thermos for water or juice.
my fascination for school lunches was limited to the lunch box.
m and i always had a packed school lunch. very often it would a jam sandwich made with buttered slices of soft white bread. sometimes there would be aloo tikki (potato cutlet) or shami kebab (beef kebab) sandwiches with a smidgen of ketchup. mama was careful about the architecture of the sandwich, balancing the moisture content to keep the bread from disintegrating. she spared us fried egg sandwiches or ‘unda paratha’ (fried egg rolled in a flaky griddle fried flatbread) that were curiously popular with children whose parents were in the army. i had zero tolerance for the smell of eggs and grease and spent the better half of secondary school trying to distance myself from two classmates who perpetually smelled of the combination.