Thursday, June 15, 2006

Heat of the days long past.

Another blast from my past, as it is fashionable to say these days. Ever since I remember, in my childhood days, there used to stand in the west corner of our Khetwadi bathroom a heater made of copper. Whenever they really scrubbed it up (just before Diwali for instance), it used to shine with a friendly red glow. It had in the middle of its body a vertical hollow tube, also copper, a good conductor of heat. In it, live coal embers were put after the outer vessel was filled with water. The water would then get piping hot gradually as the convection current spread the heat throughout its body. I remember putting bits of paper into the burner tube just to see the flames spring up about the mouth of the burner. The one problem with this contraption, though, was that it spewed a thick layer of soot on the ceiling directly above it. It was hard to get it off. In the kitchen too, we used to have a couple of coal-fired choolas apart from a couple of kerosene ones – all of them great soot throwers. It was only after I joined college in 1952, I guess, that we switched to an immersion heater run on electricity to heat the bath water. We were also perhaps among the first families in Mumbai to take to cooking gas and pressure cooker around the late fifties or the early sixties. Not the pack leaders, mind you, but probably the early majority, you know.

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