May 22, 2009

Leaves Of Life



In the early hours of the morning before the sky lights up over the horizon the city wakes up to urgent feet scrambling to make their rendezvous with street-side markets in Dadar, and elsewhere.

Fisherwomen hugging baskets of fish board local trains on their way to suburban fish markets along Central and Western railway lines that bisect the city into ‘West’ and ‘East’ sections. They must start early for the markets, accounting for the travel, and be in time for the first customers hurrying to impromptu stalls on the roadside where it is not uncommon to find women sitting together in groups of three or four, their baskets of fish at their feet and choppers at the ready on makeshift wooden boards. Cats, those creatures of habit, will be up and about awaiting their arrival. Like the fisherwomen they’re fixtures of city mornings.



To the south of the city, fishing boats land their catch at Sassoon Docks. Elsewhere, among several other landing points, fishing trawlers bring in their catch at the beach in Vasai, home to the Kolis, a fishing community known to be among the earliest inhabitants of Bombay and liberally portrayed to love their drink and dance in Bollywood films of yore.

In the shadow of the Vasai fort whose ruins add a surreal whisper to the sea off the coast a hundred-odd metres away, and hidden from view by the earthy homes of the Kolis, there is little evidence of the hectic activity along the coast until the narrow lanes zigzagging through the settlement deposits one on the beach.

Excepting the Cuckoo dallying from the trees in the summer months, newspaper vans split the morning silence before all others.

Large stacks of newspapers make their way across the city, offloading at street corners where groups of youths huddle around them and quickly sort them in time for the delivery boys who then fan out to building complexes and drop off newspapers on door mats in time for office goers to have a quick look at them before they take the elevator down and hail a rickshaw for the railway station to board the local train on their way to work.

The milkmen hit the roads about the same time as newspaper delivery boys.

About the same time trucks and tempos from Vashi and surrounding areas bear their load of vegetables into suburban markets where wholesalers take delivery of the produce. Fierce bargaining is not uncommon at the point of delivery. Then the wholesalers sell the produce to retailers who in turn ferry the produce to their shops or vegetable carts operating on the streets.


In the commotion of vehicles ferrying in milk, vegetables, and newspapers, and the brisk haggling at roadside fish markets, invisible are the hands that quickly pick out small green packs from their bags, flowers neatly wrapped in leaves and secured by thread, inserting the small bundle in the door handle before stepping away to the next apartment. There’s rarely a presence to be sensed until the door opens to the fragrance of Jasmine. Flowers are routinely used in early morning prayers and also in adoring the hair.


Villagers, mostly women, from far flung suburbs set out for flower markets in Dadar and elsewhere with bundles of fresh leaves foraged from the woods, supplying street-side vendors with leaves for use in wrapping short lengths of garlands among other uses.

Depending on availability, leaves of the Teak, the Palas, and the Jackfruit are commonly used for the purpose.


Before dawn breaks over Bombay’s cluttered skyline, local trains pulling into Dadar from as far as Karjat, Kasara, Assangaon, and Titwala empty of vendors who quickly get off the train with their produce.

In a single flowing motion the women hoist large bundles of leaves secured with slender lengths of tree bark onto the head and make for the exit in a single file, swaying as they glide up the incline and onto the public footbridge on their way to the phool galli (flower lane) where they will settle to the side of the lane and sort the leaves into smaller bundles for sale.


“We've come from Titwala,” the elderly woman flanked on either side by fellow vendors said as I bent to have a closer look at the leaves they were sorting out.

Titwala lies on the Central Line, 56 kilometres from Dadar. Local trains headed for Kasara, and Asangaon halt at Titwala, a little over ten kilometers from Kalyan in the direction of Nasik, the latter is served by the same line. The three elderly women sat with their bundles of leaves to the side of the path that led under the flyover.

The lady quickly reached into the bundle, and held out a neatly stacked section of the leaves for five rupees.

“How many leaves have you included in the stack?” I ask her.

She turns to look at her fellow vendors before smiling at me. “I don’t count the leaves, no need to. This much is what I sell for five rupees,” she said, drawing my attention to the stack she held in her palm between the thumb and the rest.

I quickly counted the leaves in the stack and said, “About twenty leaves for five rupees?”



Only a few days earlier I was quoted ten rupees for six leaves by a youth on the staircase that leads down to the phool galli by the flyover. He took one quick look at me and decided I knew next to nothing of the rates before quoting his price. I left him standing by his bundles of leaves lying on the steps to the side of the staircase.

She nodded and shrugged her shoulders. “Yes, about twenty leaves.”

“Larger sized leaves will cost more,” she said. “These are the Palas. The same leaves used to make patravali.”


Patravali is a leaf plate made of dried leaves tacked together by pieces of stem. The leaf plates are commonly used in villages to serve meals, and discarded after use, finding their way to garbage dumps where cows and buffaloes gather at noon time and polish them off along with the leftovers of meals.

I mistook her reply for Phanas, the Jackfruit tree.

“No, no. Not Phanas, but Palas,” she corrected me. The Palas is also known as the Flame of the Forest for its dazzling flowers that break the often bleak summer landscapes in deciduous forests of the tropics.

Leaves used in making patravali differ from region to region depending upon the availability of trees.

The Flame of the Forest is not as commonly found in Goa as the Jackfruit, so leaves of the Jackfruit are used to make patravali in the tiny state on the West Coast on India. Jackfruit leaves are not the most ideal of leaves to use in making the leaf plates but considered adequate enough for the purpose. The leaves of the Teak are used for the purpose as well, chosen more for their easy availability in Goa whose climate is conducive to Teak plantations.

Though rare, the use of lotus leaves is not unheard of either.



In North Karnataka leaves of the Muthla tree are used in making patravali. The leaves are dried in the shade until they turn brown, taking over a week or so. The shade helps keep the leaves from curling up.

On my yearly travels to the north of Karnataka during summer vacations from school, I grew accustomed to having my meals on patravalis while visiting my relatives along the route. It took me some time to eat off the leaf plate without swallowing the short stems that held the leaves together.

In time I learnt to make patravali at the home of my ancestors in the village. In the afternoons we would gather in the hall flanked by rooms on either side and sift through heaps of dried Muthla leaves and arrange them in the shape of a circular plate, overlapping the leaves to cover openings to prevent curry from seeping out and messing up the floor.


We took our meals sitting cross-legged on the floor, backs to the wall. The elderly Brahmins, clad in white dhoti held tight at the waist, took their meals bare-chested as is the custom, eating their meals off the leaf plates or patravalis. I used to call them ‘Yogic meals’.

While one of us would fashion Jowar stems into tiny pieces for use in stitching the dried Muthla leaves together, another would sift through the stack of leaves and separate even sized leaves appropriate for the size of the leaf plate.

The rest of us would then fashion the leaves into a circular shape each and stitch them together with small pieces of Jowar stems. I was still at school and oblivious to any cathartic benefits to be had from what is a uniquely rural exercise with few or no exceptions. It was just another exercise I reveled in in addition to helping my aunt milk the cows, and collect dung cakes for fuel while I was not pestering the farm hand into teaching me the art of making ropes from lengths of coir and tree bark. Eventually I learnt the craft well enough to make my own ropes.

Keshava, the farm hand at the time passed away years ago, leaving behind memories of his good natured patience while I struggled to come to grips with the rolling of lengths of raw material into ropes, turning my thighs red where the rope rubbed the skin while I rolled individual strands into rope pattern.

Making patravalis was easier, for Muthla leaves presented far fewer problems except maybe when I had to stitch them together into leaf bowls. Curry and buttermilk are served in the leaf bowls that are fixed to the leaf plate with rice. Occasionally the leaf bowls, if weakly secured with rice at the base, would topple over, spilling curry or buttermilk all over the patravali, drawing disapproving looks from the elders.

The Muthla tree is commonly found in the northern districts of the state, namely Gulbarga, Raichur, and Bidar.

Speaking with my uncle I learnt that Raichur is big on supplies of the Muthla leaves for making patravali. “Alanavar, near Belgaum, is well known for Muthla leaves as well,” my cousin added.

The small stems that tack leaves together into plates are sourced from Jowar stems after the crop is harvested and the hay kept aside for cattle fodder. In the arid regions of North Karnataka typically two crops are harvested in a year. Mungari Jowar sown in the early monsoon months of July and August, and harvested three months later, is preferred for fashioning the stems to tack the leaves, and not so much the Hingari Jowar. The stems of the latter are not known to lend themselves to easy fashioning of short, slender pieces appropriate for stitching leaves together. The Hingari crop (Rabi) is sown in September or October.

Elsewhere the Mungari crop (Kharif) is sown in the months of June-July around the time the first rains come calling, especially along the West Coast where the South-West monsoons make their first landfall. However to the north of Karnataka the first rains strengthen their patterns much later.

Typically 15 Muthla leaves went into the making of a patravali on the average. Now I’m told each patravali costs one rupee, prices having gone up in the village from years ago when I first learnt to stitch leaf plates together. Moreover it is unlikely most villagers will take the trouble now to stitch together a patravali from Muthla leaves, preferring instead to buy them off the market, a set of fifty leaf plates costing fifty rupees ($ 1.00) at one rupee per leaf plate.

Unlike steel plates, leaf plates do not need washing, instead providing fodder for cattle after meal time. They provide employment to poor villagers who set out to gather leaves in the woods while womenfolk stitch them together into leaf plates, in turn empowering women in the village. And unlike steel there is no processing cost involved, including the mining of earth for raw material, in the making of leaf plates. In the end they break down into organic elements that enrich the soil and nourish the many life forms that make the soil fertile.

When we ran out of patravalis banana leaves were brought out at meal time. It is easier to eat off a banana leaf than off a patravali stitched together. In time, like with everything else, practice makes perfect, and leaves cease to matter, receding to the background, giving way to the fragrance of the outdoors rising up from the leaf plate, indulging the appetite for the meal at hand.

Flanking the flyover opposite the Dadar railway station on the Central Line are two narrow lanes that conduct travelers out of the station. Flower vendors run small hole-in-the-wall outlets that line the two narrow lanes on either side of the flyover, crowding the passageway with customers shopping for flowers and office goers hurrying past. Through the day suppliers truck in sacks of flowers, supplying them to vendors in the lanes. The lanes are known locally as phool gallis (flower lanes).


Early mornings see hectic activity in the phool gallis with flower vendors busy stitching flowers into garlands, occasionally calling out to passing travelers to buy garlands and flowers. It is common to see children help their parents with the task at hand, pottering around while their parents stitch the flowers into garlands, using leaves to bunch the flowers together as well as display lengths of garlands for interested customers.


Garlands made of Mogra (Jasmine) flowers and priced at five rupees a length, were neatly laid out for passing travelers. Taxis honked in the narrow lane dodging early morning travelers hurrying to work.

“Will your stock of leaves last until evening,” I ask the lady, pointing to her basket overflowing with Palas leaves.

“No. There’ll be little or nothing left by evening,” she replies, turning her face to acknowledge a fellow vendor who hails her on his way past.


Small time vendors selling garlands, berries, jamuns, and sundry fruits from cane baskets settle down on the railway footbridge that passengers exiting the Dadar railway station take on their way out of the station. Often customers will stop by the vendors and buy jamuns or flowers or other produce on their way home.


The vendors use the leaves to arrange berries, often using them to pack the berries as well if the quantity is small. They source the leaves from fellow vendors. Here the vendor was selling berries bunched on leaves for rupees five a 'bunch'.



Some will line their cane baskets with the leaves, sprinkling water every now and then to keep the flowers fresh and inviting.



Others will use them to lay out flowers while they stitch them together into garlands, using the same thread to secure the flowers wrapped in a leaf before handing the 'leaf package' over to the customer.



Where there’re no Palas leaves to be had any will do, even those plucked from the tree under whose shade vendors shelter outside the Virar railway station, by platform One where trains from Virar start for Churchgate.

41 comments:

Ugich Konitari said...

That was such a wonderful post. I have memories too of eating on patravlis in my childhood. You still get stacks of those, and now, patravli bowls in the Pune Mandai, which we recently used . I guess our ancestors really knew what being"green" was all about ......

bobbie said...

Your vivid description of early morning activity makes a wonderful post.

I found your story of leaf plates and bowls really fascinating, and your photos are always a joy. Yes, this is really being "green", isn't it? Nothing wasted. Our own early Native Americans practiced such things as well. We should learn from them

Darlene said...

What a wonderful tour of a morning in India. I felt like I was there because you painted such a vivid word picture of the events.

Since I am too old now to visit 'far away places with strange sounding names' I really appreciate being able to do so on a blog like yours.

Well done.

Kaustubh said...

Good Morning! :-)

Seamus said...

I always look forward to your posts Anil. Once again, you did not disappoint! Thank you for such a rich tour of a morning.

I am curious - you mentioned Bombay, but isn't it called Mumbai now, or is it the local custom to call it Bombay?

Cynthia said...

So much detail about leaf plates...I'm a bit in awe about the wisdom of using these plates and your own clear yet romantic writing style.

We have bananna leaf here in Puerto Rico and it is mostly used as a pastille wrap- around a plaintain paste filled with savory items. (I order it vegetarian style.) I feel connected to life when I eat from these leaves.

It's remarkable that I they are so readily available outside where I live and hadn't thought to serve meals on them. I have to experiment this summer.

Thank you for your detailed post, Anil. <3

Beverly Ash Gilbert said...

Beautiful images and descriptions! I love the leaves - so many uses!

Thank you for your lovely comment on my post.

Sarah said...

Hi Anil,
Thank you for visiting and leaving your comment-I felt a little sad seeing all those old rejected scissors and I hope someone will buy them so they can add something to their stories.
I am so glad you visited me or else I would have missed your wonderful post about early morning goings on where you live. I loved all the detail about the leaf plates too, such an art for such a utilitarian purpose. I think the flower market looks amazing and like the way the leaves are used for everything. One thing where you live and where I live have in common-the early morning paper vans-one wakes me up every day as I live next to a shop!
Sarah :)

Renee said...

Anil, seriously when are you putting all of this in a super colourful book.

I am standing in line to buy it.

I read these always with my mouth open and listen to myself read to myself.

Fantastic post.

Love Renee xoxo

Sarah Laurence said...

You haven’t posted in weeks – nice to have you back. I love the colors in the opening photo. I like the idea of using a leaf for a plate. It is greener in more ways than one.

Janie said...

Great description of early morning in India. I'm amazed at all the uses for leaves in the marketplace.

The Things We Carried said...

Anil,
You must write a book about your travels! Your descriptions are lovely, colorful, and insightful. I hope you will publish a book someday!

Kamana said...

Wow! That was a really interesting post. I have always been very fascinated with India, Indian culture Indian cinema and especially Indian food :) Even though i live so close to India, I have never been there myself. Your post made me take a mini journey through an Indian village. Thank you.

And thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. Please do come back :)

kiran said...

Anil,
This was such a beautiful post... especially "invisible are the hands that quickly pick out small green packs from their bags, flowers neatly wrapped in leaves and secured by thread, inserting the small bundle in the door handle before stepping away to the next apartment"

Its such a delight to read your blog!

Lucy said...

So many wonders, the morning air, the memories, and those beautiful leaf plates - I would so like to eat from one!

Thanks so much, Anil. I may never travel to India, but feel I have experienced it richly through you!

M Raghunandan said...

very well written. liked the photograph of typical rural home at typical traditional lunch time. expect many more such writings.

Rajesh said...

You have captured the life of people in city beautifully. The saying "city that never sleeps" really holds good for the city.

J said...

As I reached the point in your post where you mentioned Patravalis...I was swallowing hard remembering the "short stems" that would stick in my throat as a child. I smiled when you said it yourself a few lines later :) It is like eating fish with the fear of swallowing some fishbones. I prefer the sticklesness, the green smoothness and freshness of banana leaves. But the sight of these Patravalis brings to mind everything auspicious, festive sugar and spice and everything family nice :)

karen said...

What a fascinating post.. haven't had time to finish reading through it until now! I'm always learning something new here. The photos are perfect, too!

marja-leena said...

As always, I'm fascinated by the customs, colours, smells, even tastes just from your descriptions and photos. In contrast to the rich colours, there's something extremely beautiful in the subtle tones of the dried leaves in the 7th photo. How very 'green' too, these 'dishes' are!

kenju said...

Anil, you have the perfect blog. It is beautiful to look at, wonderfully written and educational all at the same time. I hope you will publish a book someday.

Anil P said...

Ugich Konitari: Thank you. They sure did. Patravalis were very convenient to use during marriages as well, more so when half the village would turn out for the wedding and there weren't as many steel plates to go around.

And cattle had a field day, gathering by the dump for stacks of used leaf plates.

Bobbie: Thank you. Leaf plates are environmentally friendly, easy to procure and make, an effective green option, and non polluting.

Darlene: It's a pleasure to present this India tour, and am encouraged to learn that you enjoy reading all these posts.

Even Indians from one part of India find names of places in another region strange sounding, more in tune with local language and dialect.

The State of Karnataka neighbours Goa, yet people from Karnataka take time to get used to names of Goan towns and villages, and the way they are pronounced.

Kaustubh: Thank you.

Seamus: Thank you, Seamus. It's a pleasure to have you read these India posts.

Bombay has been renamed to Mumbai, a move that is seen by many from the city as political, driven more by compulsions of electoral politics of a local right-wing party, the Shiv Sena, that caters to the aspirations of the Marathi-speaking populace for primacy in jobs and living opportunities over that of others who do not speak the language, achieving much of it by threat of force and/or actual use of force that has seen extreme violence unleased, usually attributed to the Shiv Sena, and also through their political offices when voted to power.

The reorganisation of States in Independent India along linguistic lines deposited Bombay in the lap of Maharashtra, a state carved out of marathi-speaking people, following a prolonged agitation by the latter. As migration of Marathi-speaking people increased the numbers tilted in their favour, and political groupings drawing numerical strength from their communities jostled to change the name of the city, a move that has been seen by many as an attempt to co-opt the city as 'their own' in exclusion to others (non Marathi-speaking) living in the city.

So people identify the city as Bombay because that's how they've known it all their lives and it comes naturally to them. Others because they did not agree to the change in name to the one (Mumbai) proposed by a political grouping that they feel would be only happy to see them leave the city because they are not considered 'local' enough because they speak a different language. Yet others as a way to offer defiance to right-wing politics, and yet more others because they live in parts of the city that's strongly identified with people who made first made Bombay what it is.

And still yet more others because it is a habit with them having known and identified with the city as Bombay.

And there are many who use the new name Mumbai because they've used Mumbai even when the city was officially known as Bombay.

I alternate between the two names, sometimes Mumbai, sometimes Bombay.

Cynthia: Thank you. In some South-Indian vegetarian restaurants some food preparations are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in pressure cookers.

Leaves are widely used across India, and also for purposes other than cooking.

Eating from leaves is an earthy experience. Patravalis actually give off the fragrance of dried leaves during meals.

Anil P said...

Beverly Ash Gilbert: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

Sarah: Thank you.

Very true, when tacked together the patravali does look artistically done.

Without newspaper vans the city experience is incomplete.

Renee: It's indeed a great pleasure to know of how you feel reading these India posts. Thank you.

It would be a dream to see this in book form, hopefully something will come out of it.

Sarah Laurence: Thank you. I was yearning to get back to posting after the absence.

Janie: Thank you. And I haven't covered all the uses of leaves yet!

The Things We Carried: Thank you. Hopefully I can realise it and reach an even wider audience.

Kamana: Thank you. I think you'll enjoy the India visit when you decide to. There are stories at every turn.

Kiran: Thank you. Indian Bazaars are great places to immerse oneself in, so much activity, and mostly in good humour.

Lucy: Thank you, Lucy. It might just be possible to locate these leaf plates in Indian sections or Indian shops in your city.

M Raghunandan: Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, the traditional feel of a regular village home is soothing to say the least.

Rajesh: Thank you. Bombay never sleeps. Never.

J: I agree. In addition to swallowing the 'short stems', it can be a struggle to prevent the sambar from seeping out from between the overlapping leaves. In time practice gets better.

Eating off banana leaves is easier no doubt.

Karen: Thank you :-)

Marja-leena: Thank you. The subtle tones can be striking when seen close-up.

Kenju: It's been a source of continuing encouragement to read your comments, and a pleasure to share these Indian experiences with you.

Hopefully it will be possible to. Thank you.

Kritter Keeper said...

that was totally cool...i agree with the others...you really should publish a coffee table book. the timing is right the especially with the popular slum dog movie. thank you for commenting on my blog. we all live in such different worlds but blogging is a great way to experience and learn about eachother's lives.

Bee said...

Leaf plates are such a wonderful practice! I learn so much from visiting you . . .

Anil P said...

Kritter Keeper: Thanks. Yes, this is a great platform to cross pollinate lives. Hopefully all this will materialise in book form some day, though I cannot be sure it will.

Bee: Plates made of leaves are viable alternatives for sure. Thank you.

Amber Star said...

Anil P,
I will have to come back and read your reply to Seamus about the politics of renaming Bombay.

There is so much going on in the early mornings in India and most everywhere, I think. Sometimes when I wake early I check the tv for news and see so many people on the road so very early in the morning to get to their job. They don't stop to sell their products on the street and visit with their friends. They go to cold sterile offices and are trapped there for 8 hours then they are in a traffic jam to get back home. I doubt they have a regular plate to eat from, much less enjoy the fragrance of the leaf plates. Truly the leaf plates make a very small dent in the ecosystem. All of the plate is used in one way or another. Now I feel a little guilty about my Wal-Mart dishes that must be washed in a dishwasher that uses lots of water and electricity.

I got the flower slideshow up tonight. Some of the pictures are not good. It was too bright while I was trying to capture their colors and leaves. This will have to do for now. We should be done planting soon. I'm using some of the begonias that I overwintered in the greenhouse, since they are SO much larger than the little slips to plant now. I'll put the new ones in the pots and have them next year as the large ones. It gets too cold here for too many annuals to come back. Sometimes they do and it is a good thing when they do. They are most welcomed.

Thank you for another wonderful story about your country. maybe I'll tell some about my state. It has a rich and wild history, but not nearly as long as yours. We have only been a state since 1836, I think it was just off the top of my head which is very tired and has a cat laying on it.

Peace,
Amber Star

Pinku said...

Hey anil,

came across your blog thanks to MF ...first of all congrats for the nomination.

secondly must say i was very impressed with your word picture here of mornings in bombay.

having lived six carefree months in that city and explored it many nooks alone...it has a huge place in my heart...and that coast in Vasai u mentioned is really a treat in otherwise crowded bombay.

Will keep coming to your blog for more. Do keep writing.

Anjuli said...

as always your post did not disappoint. What a vivid description of beauty. I saw colors, shapes and leaves- and I don't mean through the pictures you had there- it was simply through your words. The pictures simply showcased the words.

Growing up in Singapore- we mainly ate on the banana leaves- so it was nice to hear about the other leaves and how they also could be used as a plate. Now this is TRUE recycling at its best :)

Lori ann said...

Anil, this was so fascinating. I loved to learn about the different uses for the leaves, when i lived in Hawaii they were used in similar ways. Thank you for this post.
Lori

megha punater said...

its always a pleasure to come to this blogsite,for me its like walking down a memoty lane and living it again through your words and picture.
a book is a brilliant idea.

Sunita said...

Great blog! I just found my way here from Mysore Blog Park.
Do you know what the 'muthla' is called in english? I've heard of teak leaves being used as plates and jackfruit leaves as spoons but the muthla is new to me.
Nowadays teak leaves are pressed and moulded into more conventionally acceptable plate shapes without any need for 'stitching'.
I wonder why the leaflet rib of the coconut leaf was never used instead of the jowar stem.

kestrel said...

That was really interesting - the patravali and the flowers. I guess our ancestors knew what green living was all about and recycling too (giving the used patravali as food for the cattle). We have our grand technology but we sure can mess up Mother earth

Anil P said...

Amber Star: Thank you. Early mornings are great sights, and present interesting possibilities for photogaphy as well.

I'll be hopping over for the slideshow. Maybe late afternoons might just provide the ideal light for photographing flowers.

I'm sure there'll be many stories to tell about your place, even one as new as 1836.

Pinku: Thank you. I'm pleased to learn these posts remind you of your stay in the city.

Anjuli: Thank you. Many prefer to eat off banana leaves, just that I find curry slipping off the banana leaves quickly, just too smooth.

But yes, idlis and dosas had off banana leaves are quite another thing.

In some South-Indian vegetarian restaurants banana leaves are placed on steel plates and food served, which I suspect is to provide an 'authentic' feel to the whole experience. I'm always amused to see a combination of steel and banana leaves used thus.

Lori Ann: Thank you. Interesting to know you found similarities with their usage in Hawaii.

Megha Punater: Thank you. Hopefully it will be bound together and get its own spine with its name on it someday.

Sunita: Welcome. I'm not certain of the English or of Latin name for the 'muthla'.

Teak and jackfruit leaves are used as well, but not as much in Karnataka where 'muthla' leaves reign supreme.

Leaf plates of jackfruit leaves are used in Goa, but leaf plates are not as commonly used in Goa as say in Karnataka. Teak is commonly found in Goa as well.

Leaf plates factory produced from pressing leaves can be found aboard some passenger trains around India, typically for servings of dosas and chatni, or uthappa and chatni.

I wonder if too many leaves are wasted in making those leaf plates in factories, for I found them to be too thick, mor than what might be necessary, at least the ones I ate off.

Vandana said...

Anil that was a delightful post. You have an extremely keen sense of observation and you have the wonderful art of conveying it in picturesque words..

I loved how you digressed into the topic of patravalis, it ofcourse gave me lot of memories but more importantly made me realise, how back home there is this whole disposable tableware culture but .. the essential difference being the "green"ness of these disposable plates and cups!! Almost makes me want to start a store of "green disposable tableware"

Anil P said...

Vandana: Thank you. It's fun observing a city in its details, there's so much life and liveliness to be found.

It might actually be a healthy option to revert to the leaf plates of yore.

Modern 'disposables' are easy to dispose off the table but not from the soil.

Rumela said...

The Blessed Beauty saith: `Ye are all the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch.' Thus hath He likened this world of being to a single tree, and all its peoples to the leaves thereof, and the blossoms and fruits. It is needful for the bough to blossom, and leaf and fruit to flourish, and upon the interconnection of all parts of the world-tree, dependeth the flourishing of leaf and blossom, and the sweetness of the fruit. thank you for shearing your post.

Dr.Antony said...

You rekindle the beauty of our common, long forgotten past.Ordinary things come alive in your words,as if you woke them up.
Wonderful post.

hemant said...

Anil, you are gifted.I came to know very lately of your bog. Which camera do you use.

AswathiBabu said...

Very informative thanks for sharing such nature friendly ideas I was not aware of such usages of leaves. We use only banana leaves,lotus leaves and teak leaves
Congrats for ur great attempt
I am tagging you in my blog. Pls have a look

Lekha said...

Not a dull minute in your description,
Can't digest its Fact Not Fiction.

Prising out the Big in Small,
Giving the reader a good know all..

Thanks Anil for the time taken,
For these blogs or should I call
Vocation?

On a non poetic note, just loved this and the train readers blogs. Its really great work and boy are we glad that the IT industry lost you.

Best Wishes