Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cultural changes.

I was reading about the return of eight year old Sunny Pawar to his home in what he article describes as "the Kunchi Kurve Nagar slum near Mumbai's airport". Little Sunny was the child star in "Lion", the story of Saroo Brierley, accidentally separated from his biological family at the age of five, adopted by Australians and eventually rediscovering his origins as an adult. My daughter tells me it is a very good film. Maybe I'll get around to seeing it.

Meanwhile little Sunny's life must have been changed almost as much as the child whose story was told in the film. He was only five when it all began and film people came to his school looking for possible child actors. His father lost his job as a street sweeper because he took so much time off to take sunny to auditions. He then became Sunny's business manager, taking the child around the world on film business. Sunny's mother says, "He was just a normal little boy. Now everybody says, 'Oh, a Hollywood star lives in our neighbourhood'. Overnight I have become the mother of a movie star."

And presumably Sunny's education has been rather different from what it might have been had he just stayed at home. He's been around the world and has been exposed to a range of cultural differences. 

The family still lives in the same small house as they ever did. Sunny is only eight, he needs to go back to school and eventually decide what to do with the ret of his life. He says he would like to work in Hollywood, in Bollywood, everything, but there are no concrete plans. Probably a good idea.

Maybe some time in the future a film will be made telling the story of Sunny Pawar. I say this because I heard recently that only a small percentage of films made at the moment are based on novels. Many are based on screenplays written specifically as such. Indeed, when you read some modern novels you can almost see the screenplay underneath the text. So modern novelists receive offers for the screenplay when their novel is not yet completely written; the offer is made on a synopsis of the planned novel. And many films nowadays are made from true life stories: the story of the climber who had to amputate his own arm when he became trapped in a cleft some rocks, the story of the Boston marathon bombing and, of course, "Lion".

Interesting times.

The Food Programme on BBC radio 4 was talking today about tea. Despite the rise in coffee drinking, tea still remains the most popular. Oddly enough when tea was first Introduced to Britain people didn't know what to do with it. However it was THE THING to have in your food cupboards if you were rich and up to date. The programme told the story of a wealthy industrialist in Leeds who bought tea and proceeded to spread it on his breakfast toast!

There are similar stories about reactions to potatoes when they were first seen here. And a friend of mine tells a story about long grain rice. Although my eldest granddaughter does not believe this, there was a time when the only rice you saw in the UK was round grain rice and the major use for it was to make rice pudding. Gradually, along with the spread of Asian cuisine I suppose, long grain rice began to be sold. My friend's mother, always one to try put new ideas, had heard about is new kind of rice and decided to experiment with it.

And so one day my friend arrived hime to find her mother triumphantly declaring that they were trying something new for tea. (This is the Northwest of England where you have tea at 5.30 pr 6.00 instead of supper or dinner. Dinner is at lunchtime and supper is a bit of a snack before you go to bed.) A bowl of steaming rice was placed in the centre of the table. That was it. Everyone had a serving and declared it a little bland.

Getting back to tea, the drink, although we continue to be a nation of tea drinkers, young people, I learnt, are more likely to drink green tea than black tea. Then there is tea with milk, a very British thing. There is a historical side to this. Originally we got most of our tea from India, which produced mainly black tea and we developed the habit of tea with milk. Other countries in Europe still find it hard to deal with this properly, often serving hot milk instead of cold!! How shocking!! But most of these other countries imported their tea from China and other places, where the leaves were prepared differently. And Russian tea-drinking was influenced by bringing it along the silk road. The journey, by camel train, involved frequent atops along the way with the tea they carried and drank "contaminated" by smoke from the campfires. And a taste for smokey flavours developed.

Travel broadens the mind and the taste buds!

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