One more vanishing ilk of the olden era – the kalaiwallahs. They are the ones who used to give this loud cry, urging women to bring out their blackened copper, silver and brass utensils, which they polished and made it as good as new.
But with the coming in of pressure cookers, steel and health authorities warning against usage of brass for cooking and eating; usage of modern utensils like ceramic, glass and even plastic; the coming of microwaves; these kalaiwallahs are fast disappearing.
This clan of people skillfully coated brass and copper utensils amidst pungent ammoniac fumes and the shrill sound of cooling of utensils. In earlier days, copper utensils were the most preferred cooking wares due to their high conductivity. However, copper must be lined since it reacts to acidic foods; without the lining, the copper may discolour the food or impart a bitter taste or even at times lead to food poisoning. So the utensils needed a kalai or retinning job every second month.
With us adopting more and more westernized ways of life, without even us realizing it, the livelihoods of so many people gets affected; so many lives change forever and so many skills get lost forever.