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(27) Ab-dar, Compadore, Hurkaru, Dufturee, Furrash, Mihtur, Doriya, mode of keeping and feeding dogs [[146-155]]

[[146]] The ab-dar, or water-cooler, is scarcely less indispensable than the cook; for, without the exercise of his art, the delicacies of the table would be of no value. Hot [[147]] wine and hot water are by no means acceptable to those who inhale so rarefied an atmosphere, and who generally prefer such made dishes as abound in spice. It is true that sometimes a khidmutgar, or a bearer, may be found capable of cooling liquors nearly as well as ab-dars of the lower class; but such are rare, and cannot always be depended on.

Yet the success of even the best qualified ab-dar must not be attributed to any chemical knowledge, or to much comprehension of the manner, or moment, in which the refrigeration takes place. They are all mere imitators, and by keeping within certain parallels, wide enough asunder, they hit upon their object; though not without much loss of time and materials.

The apparatus of an ab-dar consists of a large pewter basin, nearly half an inch thick, and in form not unlike a very thick Cheshire cheese, of which the edges are rounded. At the top is a circular aperture, about a foot in diameter, for the introduction of two pewter flasks (each containing about a pint and a half) of a spherical form, with long narrow necks, nearly cylindrical, about ten inches long, and fitted with caps of the same metal, that come down about an inch and a half, every where close. This great basin is called a taus, and the flasks are called soories.

To cool water, about a gallon is put into the taus, which is sloped by means of a small wooden frame made for the purpose, or a few bricks, &c.; a handful or two of saltpetre is then put in, and the soories, being filled about two thirds with the water, are moved about in the taus, one in each hand, while the saltpetre is dissolving, which it usually does in two or three minutes. The soories are then laid at rest; their necks projecting out at the opposite side of the aperture, the sphere part being immersed, and a wet cloth laid over the whole of the opening. Thus the intense cold generated by the [[148]] solution acts upon the water within the soories; so effectually indeed, in many instances, as to be unpleasantly condensed.

Cracking of glasses is extremely common, for being somewhat heated by the atmosphere, when the cold water is suddenly poured in, nine in ten, so acted upon, will fly. Wine is always cooled in the common glass bottle wherein it is drawn from the cask, and when taken from the taus, which may be in about five minutes after being left at rest, is covered with a petticoat made of karwah, or other cloth, well wetted. The bottle is then placed on the table, in a stand made of turned wood, to receive the drippings, and usually stopped with a silver-mounted cork. Decanters are rarely used in India; for besides being extremely subject to crack, wine does not keep so cool in them as in common glass bottles.

The dress of the ab-dar generally resembles that of the khidmutgar, and his wages are like those of the superior classes serving in that capacity. He has, generally, some perquisites, such as charging for more saltpetre than is used, and disposing of the saltpetre water; which, in Calcutta and many other places, is carefully preserved in large jars, to be sold to those who boil it, to produce nitre in a more purified state. Ab-dars should not he allowed to cool water within the house, as the saltpetre greatly injures the walls, from which it can never be extracted.

Wherever a gentleman dines, his ab-dar attends in time to have water cooled as the dinner is served up. For a large party, it is curious to see perhaps two dozen of these servants labouring at their profession, under the shade of the house, and making a noise not unlike the quick motion of a stone-saw. Custom makes it pass unheeded, unless so as to anticipate a cool draught. As water is the common beverage, and as the smallest hole [[149]] in the bottom of a soorie utterly spoils it, the defect must be well closed with solder. All the wine used at the table is cooled by the host's own servant; unless some very noted ab-dar be in attendance, who is often asked and easily persuaded to exert his skill.

The compadore, or kursh-burdar, or butler-konnah-sirkar, are all designations for the same servant, who acts as purveyor, sometimes under the orders of the master, but oftener of the khansaman, who never fails to share the profits made by over-charges, and by the dustooree (or customary gift) from the venders of all articles for domestic consumption. This servant may be considered as appertaining to the order of sirkars, of which he should possess all the cunning, the smooth tongue, the audacious and persevering effrontery, when maintaining a palpable falsehood; with obsequiousness to conciliate his master and make him believe it.

Without these, the compadore can never thrive. His pay is generally about four, or at the utmost five, rupees per month; but that is comparatively no object, in a family where some hundreds are spent in housekeeping. To aid the deception, he invariably dresses so meanly as to claim commiseration for his apparent poverty; while at the same time he probably contrives to retain, one way or other, about an eighth part of the money intrusted to his disbursement.

The khansaman usually enquires, during the evening, what will be required in the culinary department on the succeeding day: if the family dine abroad, no directions are necessary; otherwise, fish, flesh, and fowl must be purchased. Between daylight and sunrise, after which all the prime articles in the market will have disappeared, the compadore proceeds, attended by one or two under-servants (mushuulchees, khulasees, &c.), to purchase the required articles. No time must be lost in returning home, [[150]] at least during the hot months; for such is the rapid progress towards putrefaction, that veal killed after midnight has become perfectly offensive in ten hours, after every possible precaution to keep it cool.

A compadore must, of necessity, be a good accountant. Like the sirkar, he is well versed in fractions, and will compute down to a single gundah of cowries, (i.e. four Blackamoor's teeth). This minuteness passes for honesty with many; who either put those very small parts out of the question, or satisfy themselves that the accounts are correctly taken, without even examining their contents. Every charge committed to paper thus becomes sanctioned; therefore the compadore is anxious to have his items noted, that they may be beyond the probability, if not the possibility, of refutation.

Not a cowrie can be expended without the compadore's knowledge. Under the plea of fidelity to his employer, he insists upon being privy to every disbursement; never failing to commend his own vigilance, and strictly attending every morning, with his hands full of papers, and his ink-pot, &c., in readiness to give a detail of the expenses of the preceding day; though he perfectly knows that detail is never regarded.

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((273)) Let us not suppose that such deception is local: in other, or in various, forms, we may find it throughout the world. Some, who boast of the excellence of English menials, &c., may perhaps affect to believe them to be less infected with such knavery as is above displayed; but an appeal to that too correct history of the times, yclep'd 'The Newgate Kalendar', must remove every doubt of the instability of such an exemption; and should assure us that, whenever temptation solicits, and opportunity favors, few, of any sect, color, or rank, have the virtue to resist, provided the object be proportioned to the risk!

The Hurkaru was formerly a servant used solely for carrying expresses, or such letters, messages, &c. as were to be sent beyond the circle of ordinary, or daily, communication: he was, indeed, what is now commonly called a cossid. We have retained, however, the designation of dawk-hurkarus for those who convey the dawks, or posts. In every other instance, the duty of the hurkaru as an attendant upon a gentleman in office, &c., is similar to that of the peon, or piyadu, or running footman.

His pay is generally the same, but the former usually [[151]] bears a lacquered walking-stick, armed at its extremity with a square spike, the ferule of which is ornamented with dark-coloured fringe or tassels. This stick is carried over the shoulder, and is the only distinction between the hurkaru and the peon: but though the latter has no such insignia, he frequently claims precedence, causing the hurkaru to precede him in the retinue, while attending their employer's palanquin.

Both these servants, whose capacities are now perfectly blended, receive, when serving Europeans, from four to five rupees monthly. In every respect, beyond the foregoing exceptions, they dress like khidmutgars, but generally with turbans and cummer-bunds of the same colour, as a livery; and when in the employ of great merchants, agents, and especially the principal officers of the government, they wear belts of coloured broadcloth, with metal breast-plates; bearing either the initials or the arms of their employers, or inscriptions stating the offices to which they appertain. The generality of such inscriptions bear the English designation in the centre, with a translation in Persian or Bengallee (perhaps both) around, on the margin, or vice versa.

Many most extraordinary journeys have been made by hurkarus; and instances have been adduced of their travelling full a hundred miles in the four and twenty hours.

The dufturee, or office-keeper, attends solely to those general matters in an office which come not within the notice of the kranees, or clerks; such, for instance, as making pens, keeping the ink-stands in order, ruling account-books, and perhaps binding them, preparing and trimming the lights, setting penknives, together with a great variety of trifling services. His pay is from four to six rupees monthly; though a very few receive more.

[[152]] The dress depends on the cast of the individual: if a Moossulman, it corresponds, in some measure, with that of the khidmutgar; but if a Hindoo, of the kranee.

The furrash, or furniture-keeper, is generally a Moossulman, and receives about four or five rupees monthly: his dress corresponding with that of a first-rate mushuulchee, or an inferior khidmutgar. His duty, among Europeans, consists chiefly in cleaning the furniture, putting up or taking down beds (which, in India, is always done without the aid of a carpenter), seating carpets, preparing and trimming the lights, opening and shutting the doors for guests, handing chairs, setting tables for meals, with a variety of minutiae of a similar description. Among the natives, the office comprehends far more laborious employments, such as the arrangement of tents: in which they aid the khulasees, or tent-men, reserving to themselves whatever relates to the interior.

According to Abu Fazil, who describes the establishment of the Emperor Akber, that monarch retained no less than one thousand furrashes, to attend his encampments, or parties of pleasure. These, however numerous, were fully employed; for the equipage, on such occasions, consisted of 1000 elephants, 500 camels, 400 carts, and 1000 men, escorted by 500 cavalry. There were employed in this service 1000 furrashes, 500 pioneers, 100 water-carriers, 50 carpenters, 50 tent-makers, 50 link-men, 30 workers in leather, and 150 sweepers. The number of large tents was so prodigious that the royal precinct was enclosed by konauts (walls of cloth) eight feet high; and, in the whole, nearly two miles in length. Such a display, in this country, would attract half the population to witness it.

The mihtur, or sweeper, is the lowest menial in every family; and his cast is held in execration, on account of the filthiness of his occupations. There are, nevertheless, [[153]] various classes, even among these abhorred people; of which the hullalcore are the lowest, while the loll-baygies assume the upper rank of infamy. But however much these may arrogate to themselves from such distinctions of cast, all are considered, by both Hindoos and Moossulmans, as alike impure, and polluting whatever they touch. Hence it would be considered the height of disrespect were a mihtur in the service of a native gentleman to handle any part of his master's raiment, or to step on the carpet intended for his master's seat. To touch his cooking utensils, &c., would be an unpardonable offence, and subject the delinquent both to private and public castigation.

Hair, or birch, brooms are never seen in India. The instrument for sweeping, called a jarroo, is made of bamboo, split to the size of a wheat straw, about thirty inches long, and tied together, very firmly, for about six or eight inches at one end; forming a bundle of about two inches and a half in diameter. This instrument is furnished by the mihtur, who generally receives three, or sometimes four rupees monthly. His dress corresponds in general with that of a decent cooly (or labourer); but some pride themselves in wearing a short coortah.

The mihtur is generally at little expense for provisions, as he is the only servant whose tenets allow him to partake of what has been served up at the table of any person, whether European or native, not of his own sect. In this privilege the mihturanee, or female sweeper, whose duties are exactly the same but usually confined to the women's apartments, must be included. The latter is, however, in general far more sober, cleanly, and dainty, than the male sweeper.

When a dog is kept where there is no occasion to retain a professed doriya, or dog-keeper, the mihtur is expected to dress its victuals, and to supply it [[154]] with such refuse from the table, as he may not deem worthy of his own acceptance.

The doriya, though properly an out-door servant, residing at the doriya-konnah, or kennel, occasionally officiates as mihtur, performing all the duties of that menial; but this is rarely done with goodwill; doriyas, though of a cast held equally in abomination with the ordinary sweeper by persons of a different persuasion, invariably considering themselves as far superior. Though confined to one occupation, in general, a doriya can have very little knowledge of its duties, beyond the mere mechanical routine of dressing rice and meat for the dogs, and taking them out for an airing.

He is usually provided with a short whip, consisting of a thong or two of raw hide fastened to a piece of small bamboo; with this he corrects the animals, whose number varies according to their size. Thus a brace of greyhounds, or at the most a leash, are considered as many as a doriya should lead out; while of small dogs, he is commonly surrounded by seven or eight. Each dog has a collar, to which a strong metal ring is very firmly sewed. To this is fastened a piece of stout cord, the other end of which is looped, so as to pass over the doriya's hand, and to be twisted round his wrist; the whole number are generally led by the left hand, the right exercising the whip. The dress of this servant and his pay mostly resemble that of the mushuulchee.

The manner of preparing victuals for dogs is simple. The doriya provides a large earthen pot, proportioned to the quantity of provision to be boiled, into which he puts meat, cut very small, rice, turmeric reduced to a pulp, ghee or granulated butter, salt, and abundance of water. The pot is placed on a choolah, or stove, and the ingredients stirred till they are sufficiently boiled, when [[155]] the water is drained off into a vessel, and the more solid contents are spread upon a mat to cool. Each dog is tied to a separate picket, always in the ground for that purpose, so that he cannot quarrel with his neighbours. Old earthen vessels, everywhere abounding, are collected to receive each dog's mess: the meat and rice being first divided among them according to bulk, and afterwards the gravy. Each then receives his portion; exhibiting, by vociferation and greediness, how eager he is to obtain his meal. In this manner dogs are usually fed, night and morning.


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