(25) Bawur-chee, Durzee, Doby, Mohout, Mate, and Surwan [[127-138]]
[] The bawur-chee, or cook, is an important servant, since he prepares most sumptuous dinners, although he never tastes any of the viands while in a state of preparation; and is, besides, often put to his wits to guard against the joint attacks of dust, wind, rain, sun, and birds of prey. In a regular, settled family, every convenience is afforded him; such as a substantial and spacious kitchen, with fireplace according to the Indian style; a range of stoves, a scullery, apparatus of all sorts, &c. &c.
But on a march, he must dig a number of holes with a mattock, to receive his fuel; which is usually green wood, or dried cow-dung. He must make choolahs, or fire places, by placing three lumps of earth, kneaded into a stiff paste, for each choolah, so as to support the boiler. He must burn his wood to embers, over which the meat is roasted, by means of a small spit, perhaps made of slit bamboo; but if of iron, with a crank at one end whereby to turn it, as it rests upon two dogs, or iron spikes, driven into the ground, a few feet asunder. He must, in all probability, kill and [] flay a kid, or two or three fowls; some for curry, others for roasting, &c.; and, perhaps, after all, he may have to turn the spit himself; occasionally looking to the contents of the several boilers, &c.
In a permanent kitchen; the fixed roasting-place is generally made of two inclined bars of iron, four or five feet in length, set sloping against a wall, at an angle of perhaps forty degrees. Each of these bars has eight or ten hooks, in any suitable pair of which the spit is turned by a boy: the spaces under them, or the triangle on each side, are filled with masonry, so that the heat may be retained, and the embers kept within certain bounds.
For roasting in this manner, the embers are divided
a vacancy, or kind of trough, under the line of the spit, wherein a
platter is sometimes set, to receive the dripping, which is returned to
the meat by a bunch of feathers (generally those from the wings of the
fowls just killed) tied to the end of a short stick. This little, neat,
cleanly; and cheap dripping-ladle answers admirably; it being in the
of the bawur-chee to baste any part with great precision.
In the sauces, a number of flies are found, such as rarely fail to visit the purlieus of the bawur-chee's camp, where they assemble in swarms; settling on the meat, or visiting the stew-pots, &c., where they are overcome by the heat, or fixed by the dripping, &c. Flies may, however, be picked out; but those shoals of dust that skim during the middle of the day, often render the whole dinner absolutely unacceptable. Where a large table-cloth has been spread over the knives, forks, &c. as laid for dinner, there has been collected near a pound of sand underneath; while the upper cloth was really covered full a quarter of an inch in depth.
This can never be altogether obviated in moveable camps; but, when fixed for a while, [] it is usual to set up mats, or konauts (which are walls of cloth, kept upright by ropes and sticks), on the windward side; whereby the inconvenience may be considerably lessened: but sometimes a b'hoot, or whirlwind, comes suddenly, and not only be-grits the whole of the cookery, but whisks away the fences, embers, &c. in an instant.
The boilers are in general made in the country, of copper, tinned; in shape not unlike the common cast-iron pots used throughout the North, without feet, and with the addition of a flat rim projecting about an inch outward, serving both to keep steady a kind of inverted lid, and, as they have no handles, for the bawur-chee to apply two wet rags, wherewith to put the vessel off and on the choolah.
Tinning is performed by persons who make it their livelihood; receiving from one to two rupees per score, for the several pieces, counting boilers, lids, &c., according to their size. The kully-ghur, or tinman, has the vessels well scoured, and then, by means of powdered rosin, gives the interior coating, scarcely distinguishable to the sight or touch. Some use no rosin; others employ borax; but whatever the medium may be, or whether there be none, the vessel is heated sufficiently and equally over embers, when the tin, being thoroughly melted, is rubbed round the interior with a large piece of fine cotton-wool, so long as any will adhere: the vessel is then set to cool.
The above method prevails entirely for its cheapness and expedition [=rapidity]; otherwise, for its want of durability, it would be exchanged for some more permanent, and less soluble, preparation. But tinning can be performed in almost every town; and it is rarely required more than once in two or three months; when a score of good-sized pieces may be done for as little as one of our artizans would charge for tinning a very moderate-sized [] kettle. Some gentlemen use tin boilers sent from England; but, though certainly devoid of the inconvenience and danger attendant upon a want of tinning, such are highly objectionable; being so soon burnt through, or rusted when laid by: though the bawur-chees generally adopt the precaution of smearing the bottoms of these vessels, in particular, with fine clay, sufficiently diluted to be laid on thin and smooth.
The bawur-chee has nothing characteristic in his apparel; he is generally a sloven, rather than a beau, and may often be mistaken for a mushuulchee. In some families, mates, or assistants, are allowed, who do the drudgery, and whose pay is often included in that of his superior; in which case, four rupees are the common allowance, though the poor mate seldom receives more than half that sum; the cook-major adding the residue, as a perquisite, to his own wages, which may be stated at from six to twelve rupees, according to ability. As in the case of khansamans and hookuh-burdars, a few instances may be adduced of exorbitant salaries; but we may generally take the single cook at eight rupees, and the mate at four. Where there is much work, as in taverns, &c., from fifteen to twenty rupees are sometimes given monthly to the head bawur-chee.
The durzee, or tailor, is an indispensable domestic in every part of India. All such branches of service are there filled by males; except for the zenanah, or haram, where there may be from two to four females; all exclusively attached to the lady. These knowing nothing of needlework, not so much as to hem a petticoat, the only alternative is to employ a sempster, who understands cutting out and making waistcoats, small-clothes, pantaloons, shirts, &c.: many, indeed, can make a very tolerable coat, if furnished with a pattern. The durzee [] is invariably expected to be a proficient in whatever relates to the apparel of native women, as well as to be a competent judge of the value of different kinds of cloths made in the country, and of the exact quantity of materials requisite for the several parts of dress.
All this science is to be engaged at the average rate of seven or eight rupees monthly; the durzee finding his own needles and threads. Durzees capable of making gowns, &c. for European ladies being scarce and, as it was said in speaking of khansamans, much in request, double the latter sum may always be earned by one of moderate skill in that branch. The inferior class of durzees, called keemah-dozes, who do no fine work, but are principally employed in tent-making, rarely earn more than four rupees monthly; or if paid by the day, not more than three and a half.
The various pretexts under which the durzee obtains admission into the zenanah, added to the constancy of his attendance at the house, unless when any purchase is to be made, gives him an admirable opportunity for carrying on intrigue; for which the whole tribe are notorious: hence, if any cause of suspicion appears, the durzee is the first object of jealousy; when it generally turns out that, if not the principal, he is accessory, as a go-between.
The durzee is instantly ascertained by his gait. Some durzees are personable men, but speedily become emaciated by debauchery; in which their liberal wages enable them to indulge. Yet they are, on the whole, excellent workmen; finishing apparel of all sorts in a remarkably neat manner, and often fitting it with great exactness: but they are devoid of invention; mostly following old patterns, and rarely suggesting the smallest improvement.
The dress of a durzee much resembles that of a khidmutgar; [] but in the hot season, the former wear no coortahs, being bare from the waist upwards; sometimes substituting a small cap (worn only by Moossulmans) for the turban, which is usually compact and neat.
The doby, or washerman, is also exclusively a domestic, not only washing his master's linen of every description, but the zenanah apparel is given to him to wash and to iron. Sometimes, however, the latter operation is performed by an istree-wallah, or ironer; yet this only in very large families, or in large towns, such as Calcutta, Madras, &c. None but box-irons are used; and of these a large portion are heated by means of embers shut up in their cavities.
The doby who washes for a single gentleman, will sometimes, at the risk of severe punishment, or of being discharged, take in the linen of low Europeans, or Portuguese, clandestinely: many have, indeed, been detected in letting out the linen given to their charge. Hence it is needful to keep a watch over those who commonly take all the foul articles every week, bringing home at that time what they received at the former delivery.
The wages vary according to the labour; but from six to ten rupees may be taken as the standard; the doby providing at his own expense soap, and every part of the apparatus. When an European lady is in the family, the pay is increased on account of the great additional labour -- nothing but white being worn at any time. In such a case, a small apartment should be appropriated, in which the finer articles may be got up by the lady's maid.
The usual process of washing in India is first to boil all the clothes in a large earthen naud, mixing with the water plenty of soap, or ley, or sudjee (fossile alkali), or wood ashes; this operation is called the butteah. The [] clothes are then well rinsed, either in a large tank or a running stream, when they are again rubbed with soap, and laid in a heap to soak. After a few hours they are washed again, and being folded up into whisps, or bundles, of a convenient size, are beaten forcibly on a board cut into deep transverse grooves and placed aslant in the water; in which the doby stands immersed up to his knees.
After dashing each bundle several times on the board, he opens and rinses it in the, water; repeating the dashing, as though he were beating the board with a flail, till every part of the linen appears to be duly cleansed. If a board is not at hand (though every doby has at least one, four feet long, two broad, and four inches thick, with a stout stick to prop it), any smooth stone is made to answer. This appears to be a most destructive method; but experience proves that the fine calicoes of India will, even under such apparently rough usage, wear longer than our stout linens washed in tubs, &c.
Every doby has drying lines, fixed at each end to pins driven into the ground, and then sustained by cross-sticks, on the forks of which the ropes rest. In the rainy season the clothes are hung under shelter, where they soon dry; though not so quickly as in the summer months, when the heaviest articles are dried in a few minutes. The doby's wife (called the dobin), and his children who are of an age to be useful, usually assist in the process.
This sect and that of the comars, or potters, are the only two privileged to ride, or even to carry burdens, upon asses, without suffering the most ignominious degradation: hence those animals are jocularly termed, "dobies' palfreys." The dress of the doby is generally very plain, consisting of a turban, dotee (or waist-cloth), and a chudder (or sheet), worn loosely over the body in cold weather. When dobies are at work, their lungs aspirate strongly, like [] those of paviors, which produces a very singular effect; especially if, as it frequently happens, several of these board-thrashers assemble at the same piece of water.
Dobies are very generally Hindoos; and ought, agreeably to the ordinary tenets of that religion, to refrain from touching any animal substance, except leather used in the construction of shoes, and implements of war; but a particular exception is made in favour of this cast (or sect), who could not otherwise use soap when made of suet; though by far the greater portion of that made in Hindostan is manufactured with oil expressed from the sesamum.
When on a march, the doby in each gentleman's service loads his clothes, wet or dry, upon his camels, bullocks, cart, &c.: the servant's own apparatus being conveyed on a donkey. This is generally burdened with the wife, or some young children, the washing-board, its prop, the drying-lines, the sticks, box-irons, &c. &c.; an abundant accumulation of movables for so small an animal as an Hindostanee jackass, which is seldom to be seen half the size of the common breed in England.
A mohout is a person employed to feed and drive an elephant. Most of this profession are Moossulmans, and very dissipated in their conduct. Except at particular periods, on a long march for instance, the mohout has little to do; all the drudgery of bringing in fodder on the elephant, for its own use, as well as taking the animal to water, rubbing it down, oiling its forehead, painting its cheeks with vermilion or with ochre, putting on the pads, clearing away the dung, with a variety of such matters, being in general done by the mate, or deputy, who is often nothing more than a cooly, or common labourer, employed for this especial business, but who ultimately succeeds to the charge of an elephant.
Mohouts receive [] from three to six rupees monthly: the lowest rates of wages being confined to those countries where elephants are caught, and the highest attainable only in the service of gentlemen of rank; who require this, as well as all others of their domestics, to dress more correctly than such as serve persons less opulent or dignified.
The duty of a mohout, when actively employed, is to sit upon the neck of his elephant, barefooted, and furnished with an instrument called a haunkus (or driver) wherewith to guide the animal. This is commonly about twenty or twenty-four inches long, and generally made of iron, though some have wooden shafts; the tip is pointed, and about six inches below it is a hook, welded on to the stem, forming nearly a semicircle, whose diameter may be four or five inches.
At the butt of the shaft a ring is let through, for the purpose of fastening the haunkus to a line; the other end of which is fastened to some soft cord, about half an inch in diameter, passing very loosely eight or ten times round the elephant's neck, and serving, in lieu of stirrups, to keep the mohout from falling over to the right or left on any sudden motion, as well as to retain his feet in their due direction.
When the elephant is to be urged forward, the point of the haunkus is pressed into the back of his head, while the mohout's toes press under both the animal's ears: when it is to be stopped, the mohout places the hook part against the elephant's forehead, and throwing his weight back, occasions considerable pain, which soon induces to obedience: when it is to turn to the left, the mohout presses the toes of his right foot under the right ear of the elephant, at the same time goading him about the tip of the right ear; thereby causing the animal to turn its head, and to change its direction: to turn to the right; vice versa. When the elephant is to lie down, in order to [] be laden, the haunkus is pressed perpendicularly upon the crown of the head: but most elephants, after a year or two, become well acquainted with the words of command; obeying them readily without being mounted, or even approached.
Each mate, or cooly, is generally provided with a cutting bill, called a d'how, for the purpose of lopping off the lesser branches of barghuts, peepuls, and other trees in common use as fodder. An elephant will usually carry as much of these on his back as he can consume in two days; but it is not customary to load more than will last for one day on a march. Boughs as thick as a man's arm are very easily chewed by this stupendous animal; which often uses one of full a hundred weight to drive the flies from its body.
Besides the d'how, each mate is furnished with a spear, about six or seven feet in length, having a long pyramidal blade, ornamented at its point with a tassel, and armed at its other extremity, with a blunter's pike: the former is used to urge the animal to exertion, the mate goading his hind quarters; the latter serves to stick the implement upright, in the ground, or to press upon the elephant's arm while the load is putting on, or the rider ascending into the howdah.
The dress of the mahout is, in most points, similar to that of the khidmutgar; and that of the mate is, if anything, but little better than the ordinary costume of poor labourers, though their pay may be rated from three to four rupees per month. In those provinces where elephants are caught, provisions are extremely cheap; there, few mates receive more than a rupee and a half, or two rupees. The occupation of a mohout appears unfavourable to longevity, for a premature decrepitude generally disqualifies after a few years of service. This is attributed [] to the motion of the elephant; but may perhaps very justly be ascribed to conviviality in the too great intervals of leisure.
The health of a surwan, or camel-driver, is yet more
to early decay, than that of a mahout -- the motion of this
being oppressively severe; causing such a vibration of the loins as is
attended with great pain, and often with suppression of urine, together
with tenesmus, especially in tender persons not accustomed to the
It is said to be less severe when trotting, than when walking.
The dress of this class resembles that a mushuulchee of the superior order; the pay is from four to five rupees, if in charge of only two camels; but, if three, it is usual to allow a rupee more.
The duty consists in seeing the camels properly fed, for which purpose the surwan proceeds, every second or third day, to some village, for chaff of various kinds. The usual quantityof gram (a kind of pulse wherewith labouring cattle are fed) is given, part in the morning, and part in the evening, or perhaps all at the latter time: three seers, equal to about six pounds, are considered good keep.
Camels, being rarely very tractable, must be approached with great caution. Their bite is dreadful, not only from the size of the mouth and the strength of the jaw, as well as the form of the tushes [sic], but because they rarely quit their hold. It often happens that the same camel kills several surwans. The only mode hitherto ascertained of governing these vicious animals is by boring a hole in the nostril, and passing through it, from within, a piece of tough wood, with a knob about as large as a nutmeg. A strong piece of line is then fastened to the outer extremity of the wood, that, on being pulled, causes the camel to lie down at pleasure.
This contrivance, which is called a naukeh, keeps him in tolerable order; though [] it is prudent to have a stout bludgeon, in case of any attempt to seize. When camels are very vicious, it is common to cut off their noses so far as the gristle extends: this privation is supposed to do much good; but I have seen numberless instances wherein it totally failed; while, on the other hand, it greatly depreciated the animal.
A good surwan will always distinguish himself by the order of his cattle, by their freedom from injuries in consequence of galling under the saddle, and especially by the compact manner in which he places whatever burden is to be carried. This should never exceed six maunds of 82 lb. each; though the Company require, in all their contracts, that the camels furnished for their service should carry much more. Possibly, on a soil suited to the camel's foot, he may, on emergency, carry as far as eight maunds, equal to no less than 656 lb.; but such must not be expected to last.
If the soil is boggy, half that weight will be found sufficient -- especially where slippery; for when overladen, the animal will in such places be very subject to ruin; his hind legs sliding asunder, so as to bring the pelvis to the ground: this, which is termed splitting, renders him unable to rise, or, if raised, to proceed, in consequence of the violent injury sustained. On such an occasion the animal's throat is cut by some good Moossulman, who, as he performs that operation, and during the time the blood is flowing, recites a prayer and benediction, whereby the meat, which is esteemed a great delicacy, is sanctified and may be eaten.