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The Old Brass Tray

Finding Uniqueness In Using An Old Brass Tray

semi-overcast 33 °C


When I eat an Indian meal that is served on a rice tray, I will remember the meals I ate at a little motel in Narayangarh when I was in Nepal. This little motel itself has a distinctive way in serving its food very differently from others.

In Sri Lanka or India, when we travel in these countries, it is appropriately known to us that when we eat, we eat with a rice tray that is made of stainless steel. We do not normally use any trays made of brass.

However, this little motel is different.They use brass trays to serve the meals. That was my first time I ate a meal served on a brass tray.

I asked the waiter, “Do you serve everyone using this type of brass tray?” I added on, “I mean, this unique brass tray?”

My finger was pointing to the brass tray filled with rice, laid on the table by the waiter where I sat.

The waiter looked at me without saying a word.

I took a closer look at the brass tray. I found the brass tray already has a darkened surface on it, and it must have been an old brass used by the kitchen over a past long period. Its surface has taken on a green and brown patina and it has lost its shiny golden colour due to the oxidation and its antiquing process. This piece of an old brass tray in the darkened colour, has not been polished shining, I called it a classic antique. I like a kitchen brassware in its darkened colour than the shiny golden one.

The darkened colour of a kitchen brassware is itself showing its age. In some households, the old age kitchen brasswares have been well in use for a long period, and they are passed down from a generation to another. Many householders keep their old age kitchen brasswares as a show of love and affection resembling the mother's love for her daughter. The brasswares will be passed down from the mother to her daughter and when the daughter becomes a mother herself, she will pass the inherited kitchen brasswares to her daughter. It is all about a feminine, mother-daughter sentiment in this inherit take over.

My gesture had already acclaimed my words, “Wow! You serve a rice meal in such a rarely found old brass tray. People rarely use brass trays now, but you have a classic antique here. I have not used one like this before.”

The waiter was taken aback a little upon hearing how I acclaim they owned a collection of rare, classic and antique old kitchen brass trays and different from others.

To him, he saw no uniqueness in these old brass trays and there was nothing for me to shout about. The old brass trays have been just a huge chunk of alloy metal littered in the kitchen of their restaurant. Day in, day out, they used the same brass trays and they did not find using them any special.

Seeing his response, I laughed at myself quietly for over showing an admiration on their possession of the old brass trays kept in their restaurant. The waiter only watched at me, scratching his head, trying to understand why I see them special.

In Malaysia, being a householder of a Chinese community, I do not get a chance to use a tray at home, lest talk about the use of a rice tray that is made of brass. Given a choice, I would like to eat my meals using an Indian rice tray. In Narayangarh, when I was eating, I used my hand to pick the vegetables and scoop the rice from the old brass tray, as if I have gone back to the Vedic times in the old age. Eating with my hand is an ancient etiquette and using an old classic rice tray to eat is also absolutely ancient.

I wanted to go again to Narayangarh, for one reason - because I wanted to eat my meals serving on that old classic brass tray.
Maya Garne Ko -by Narayan Gopal


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 05:31 Archived in Malaysia

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