July 03, 2010

Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande

A little over a fortnight ago I found myself on a footpath, sheltering under trees from rains kicking in the monsoons. Motorcyclists caught unawares by the showers hastened likewise to the trees, water dripping off their faces. The drizzle strengthened before thinning out. It takes a few drizzles before umbrellas begin to make an appearance each rainy season.

Parked alongside was a rickshaw carrier, with “Eat More Eggs For Better Health” displayed prominently at the back. Lest those unfamiliar with English miss the message, the vernacular version in Devanagiri script ensured the non-english speaking Marathi manoos would not let up on the hens either. The Marathi version read:

Andi Kha, Balwan Vohya

Not that folks on the street needed any convincing about the merits of eating eggs. You only need to see the business that streetside vendors whipping up egg omlettes do to come away convinced of the Indian love affair with eggs, at least along the West Coast.

Nor did I have to step away from the sidewalk for proof, not when it lay only a few feet from where I was sheltered under the trees alongside the rickshaw carrier ferrying eggs around town. A large stack of empty egg trays, neatly bundled together, lay on the multi-coloured sidewalk, probably waiting to be picked up and deposited in the rickshaw carrier parked alongside.

Bundled tightly together were over 120 empty egg trays, each tray designed to hold 42 eggs in six rows of seven eggs each.

Typically, vendors not reached by these rickshaw carriers will ferry eggs in egg trays stacked vertically and lashed to the back of bicycles, pedaling gingerly through traffic swirling about them, a sight familiar to urban India.

Turning to look at the rickshaw carrier and the empty egg trays I did a quick calculation. Over 5,000 eggs were probably sold that morning. And to think there were more such rickshaw carriers around!

God bless the hens!

Waiting for the drizzle to die out I was reminded of a popular jingle those of us growing up in the 1990s would hum along each time the NECC Advert extolling the virtues of eggs as healthy nutrition appeared on the telly. It mattered little if you did not eat eggs, you hummed along anyway. It also mattered little if you did not agree to burdening the hapless hens so, you hummed along anyway. It was that hummable.

Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande

Set loosely to the tune of Macarena, the 30 second commercial (video above) swept through possibilities eggs presented before ending with Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande. [Sunday or Monday, Eat Eggs Everyday]. If the NECC was surprised at the response the jingle got they did not let on, at least not until much later, for the only Web that Indians knew back then was the one Spiderman wove to catch the bad guys. In today’s Web 2.0 world, the advertisement will most likely have spawned forums debating whether eating eggs is okay for vegetarians.

NECC stands for National Egg Co-ordination Committee. Initiated by the Late Dr. B.V. Rao, Chairman of NECC, they came up with the campaign to push the nation into eating eggs ‘everyday’, the Sunday Ho Ya Monday probably meaning to say that ‘At School or Not, Eat An Egg Everyday’, ‘At Work or Not, Eat An Egg Everyday’, implying eggs are so good for your health that you must eat them every single day.

For children with little or no appetite for eggs, the commercial was a godsend to concerned mothers, helping them effectively dissolve their resistance to eggs each time they laid the whites and yolk on the table before school

The Brahmins down South were probably unmoved by the Ad jingle, as also the Jains, among other largely vegetarian communities. But I could bet on them remembering the jingle with relish, a sign-post of an era when Indian Advertising redeemed itself, sounding the board with a series of memorable jingles.

So, for a time in the 1990s Indian hens were given a hard time by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC). For once the hens would’ve rather preferred to find their way to the boiling pot, sating an ever growing population salivating their every living moment for “chicken”, than sweat under bright lights in crowded breathing spaces laying eggs until they had little energy to clack clack, let alone stand.

Kept awake by bright lights in poultry farms, blurring night and day, the hens were called to active duty by the tune on telly that swept the nation into considering eating eggs day in and day out.

Set to the Macarena modified to fit desi requirements, and produced by White Light for the agency, Enterprise, the jingle broke new grounds, and along with Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh it achieved cult status in the Indian Advertising community and beyond.

In a piece for the Financial Times, Anand Halve recalls the making of NECC's Roz Khao Ande commercial, and the key role the Late Dr. B.V.Rao played in initiating the campaign, besides recollecting his own contribution to its success, the line that got stuck in memory, and in the consciousness of a generation brought up on an array of memorable tunes. Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande. Read Halve's reminisces here, Page 1, Page 2.

To this day Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande is remembered alongside the other equally hummable jingle that sought to push the nation into drinking Doodh (Milk).

Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh, Piyo Glassful Doodh.

Turn on the volume and float away, to a time when Indian Ad agencies could claim to set off pulses to their melodies.

Sometimes it takes an unexpected shower to trigger events.

Related Links:

1. National Egg Co-ordination Committee (NECC)


Nona said...

You brought back a lot of memories from that era. Thank you!

Indian Bazaars said...

a very interesting post! Its always fascinating to watch the unloading of eggs as well. They have this nice way of flipping the top crate and bottom crate rapidly from one palm to the other palm.

radha said...

Nice post. But sad to think that even while promoting milk and eggs, the prices of the essential items are so high. I thought milk was available only in one liter and half liter packs. Imagine my surprise when the local kirana store had packs of 200 ml! And families buy that much for the day! Eggs are about 3-4 Rs each. How can the poor afford good nutrition? If only they could reduce the prices of these items, we would definitely have a healthier India.

Riot Kitty said...

I love that you have an NECC! Sometimes I think about going vegan (I am a vegetarian), but then I remember how much I love omelettes. :)

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Loved the Macarena egg song! This advertisement is all new to me, Anil. We had the Macarena craze in Puerto Rico, everyone did the dance. It was so curious to me! And funny. During my first job teaching at a university in Puerto Rico, I was astounded when the Personnel Director started dancing the Macarena with some students. I thought that Puerto Ricans were so much looser than even Californians.

I was wrong though, because I've found that people here just have a different code. They are also quite formal and respectful in a way that I find curious and a bit impressive.

About the increased chickens-in-demand:Poor chickens stuck in daylight all the time and no where to rest. It's not like life on the farm.

I don't eat eggs but my family does so I cook them often. We buy a couple dozen a week, and they are probably from commercial enterprises that use small cages (and hormones, too). Do you have free range (from not confined hens) eggs in India? We had them in California and I felt better about buying them!

Anil P said...

Nona: Those jingles do remind of a time when Ad jingle writers had the melody going.

Indian Bazaars: Thanks. From practice they're quick with their hands. It's fun watching Kapi vendors on the street as well, as they flip their hand positions when transferring coffee from one tumbler to another.

Radha: Thank you. NECC continued promoting egggs. If I remember correctly didn't they latch on to the Munnabhai MBBS for an Ad sequence once, shot in filmi style?

It's become increasingly difficult for sections of society to survive the inflating prices.

There're times when I've stood by while consumers from the economically weaker sections have stepped up to the counter and asked for "Cooking oil worth Rs. 2/-", the shopkeeper expressing his inability to sell "Cooking oil" for such a low amount! Often they leave the shop without buying "cooking oil".

The 200ml will likely be for the child, or maybe just enough for tea. From the time the vegetables leave the fields, to when they reach the consumer, the prices will usually have doubled, maybe more than doubled.

The difference is largely accounted for by the middlemen, to an extent the bane of the ordinary consumer.

If urban centres push prices high, producers will likely move their goods to urban areas.

Riot Kitty: I was surprised as well the first time I learnt of its existence. I would assume it is a throwback to India's Socialist past, and is on similar lines to the Tea Board and the Dairy Board, and possibly others.

The genesis behind each of them lies in the co-operative movement initiated by the Indian Government that sought to bring together local producers under a single umbrella organisaion that would buy froduce from them, like for instance the Amul initiative.

Cynthia Pittman:It's a very catchy jingle. And though NECC followed it up with different Advertisements, they did not evoke the kind of consumer recall that this one did.

Your recollection from Puerto Rico reminds me of Goa, to an extent. Like you rightly said, cultures differ in their acceptability quotient of social mores.

In rural India it's possible to see eggs sourced from 'free-ranging' hens. But much of urban India's demand for eggs is fulfilled by poultry farms where bright lights blur day and night, with little or no walking space for 'chicken', kept crowded together until they are transported in cages packed to capacity by transporters to meet much of India fascination for 'Chicken'.

To be caught in traffic behind these transporters ferrying live birds around, like I have on several occasions, is a terrible experience, the smell overpowering, the conditions pitiable. Often some of the birds will have collapsed on their backs.

Lynn said...

Very interesting - I had no idea that eggs figured so prominently in the diet over there. Those commercials are great. :) I love eggs, but mostly save them for more leisurely weekend meals.

I believe the hens are treated much the same way here, too. I usually buy the cage-free eggs if I can find them.

Coffee Messiah said...

Stray storms can pop up out here at anytime and anywhere also. Makes bike riding a crap shoot really. And with thunderstorms, er, no thanks!

Wow.....an amazing array of colors for the egg holders!

btw, here's a link with a good overview of the cartoons:


and Thanks for taking the time to peruse a few back posts!


xxx said...

I like the colours of the egg cartons... ours are very plain and only hold a maximum of 12 eggs at any one time.

Lovely post and wonderful photos.

Thank you :)

Darlene said...

I have always loved eggs cooked any way. For a while they got a bad rap due to high cholesterol, but that was pretty much debunked and now it's safe to eat eggs in moderation.

Anil P said...

Lynn: Thank you. The eggs figure prominently in the diet in some regions and communities of India, in some other communities they are not eaten at all except for a percentage of individual exceptions.

To a large extent it can be said that the communities - Jains, Brahmins (from the South and North of India, particularly Uttar Pradesh, Bihar in the North), and certain other castes from Gujarat, and Rajasthan will not touch anything that is meat, and mostly applicable to eggs as well, atleast that has been so for a long time. It goes against the tenets of the culture in their communities. But there are exceptions in these communities as well, who will eat just about everything.

Coffee Messiah: The first rains in India are usually a tricky period. Oil leaked by vehicles on the roads in the months leading up to the rainy season makes for very slippery roads, especially the highways, in the first rains. Riders need to be careful on the roads the first few showers.

Thanks for the link. I was curious of the character Baba, an Indian term usually used out of affection as in for young children, out of deference as in for the elderly in the family or community, and also out of reverence as in for the Wise men, particularly if they are accepted as spiritual gurus.

Darlene: True. There was lot of talk at one time of the high cholesterol level in eggs. I suppose anything eaten in moderation should is useul.

Robyn: Thank you. The colours the egg trays are available in are colourful indeed. If made of cardboard material they are usually dull, and a shade of coarse white.

karen said...

I can imagine those monsoon rains! Interesting egg-story, although I am one of those kids who would not/could not eat them, and still won't!!

The back of the truck is most intriguing. 'Horn Please' for what, I'm wondering?

Rachel Fox said...

'Go to work on an egg' was the famous egg slogan in the UK. It's never gone away...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the whiff of nostalgia ! I used to love my scrambled eggs and egg sandwiches till the hype about cholesterol hit me . But isnt it tragic that 2 food items that the Govt plugged so mercilessly should be above the reach of the common man with the skyrocketing prices ?

Anil P said...

Karen: Thank you. You'll find it on almost all vehicle carriers in India, like Tempos, Trucks, Rickshaw Carriers. I suppose it asks the one behind to indicate if overtaking, possibly as a general warning if one needs to b given.

Rachel Fox: It's so very 'socialist' in a way when initiated by the government.

eve's Lungs: Thanks. The prices have gone way too high.

Niamh B said...

In Ireland we had the slightly nervous "An Egg a day is ok"

Great post, love looking at old ads

Rachel Fenton said...

Anil, I detest eggs (unless they are wrapped up nicely in a cake!) but your post is really eggcellent! (Couldn't resist, sorry :)

kenju said...

I share a love of eggs, fixed any way you can come up with. I could eat them everyday (more than once)!

Sudha said...

I am so nostalgic right now....and btw...the voice in the doodh ad sounds like kunal ganjawala...i could be wrong though (assuming it is from his not struggling days)

Anil P said...

Niam B: Thank you. Old Ads are fun to look at.

Rachel Fenton: 'eggcellent' is a nice turn :-)

Kenju: The NECC would love to have you represent them :-)

Sudha: It could be him, am not sure either. Those Ads remind of such wonderful times.

kanta said...

The jingle has definitely led to more consumption of eggs.
But the market economics has taken over. Egg prices have almost doubled in the last two years. Milk,egg and banana - the three things that have the potential to feed the poor with nutrients have seen very high price rise.
Moreover, now there is hardly any warmth attached with selling/buying daily need items. In such times, you feel more nostalgic about the old times.

Anonymous said...

You have made your blog more interesting than most that I read. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was a great trip down memory lane! I landed on this link while searcing for the same "roz khao ande" jingle. A terrific read. :)