Monday, October 3, 2011 | By: CHIMI DORJI

Stone Grinder (Sleep eater) to Grinding Machine( sleep saver)

Stone grinder(source:google images)
Rangthang(stone grinder) , as we call it in our language(Tsanglow-Sharchop) which is still used in the far flung villages for  grinding  all kinds of grains like wheat, buckwheat, and maize the most. This is a solid hard rock which is curved out from the huge rock. Every rock cannot work for curving out this grinder. There is special rock for this which will be found only along the big river banks. In my village we have to walk around 3-4 hours to search this rock. While curving it should be done in such a way that the palm of each curved stone should be sharp enough to crush it any hard grain properly. Alike we used our two palms to crush pepper when we are in dearth of proper grinder in stone grinder also two curved stones are used for grinding. Two equal curved stones are arranged one above another. Lower one is fixed to its stand permanently without any chance of movement when upper rotates on its top for grinding.
The stand to which lower half is fixed will be usually a wooden tub with a flat base so that whatever grain is grinded will be get collected in the tube wholly. On the top of the upper half there will a wooden handle long enough to accommodate two to three hands for rotating and next to this handle there will be a small round flat area to receive the grains handful by handful through which there is a small hole to pass through the grains down in between two stones for grinding. Depending on the size and heaviness of the grinder, for rotation it requires minimum of one person and maximum of three persons. But in any way both the hands cannot hold the handle in tandem and rotate it. It should be held by one hand at the time and can change the hand as and when it gets tired. If there is more than one person then one of them can pour out the grains handful by handful with whichever hand is not engaged in rotating the grinder.
As long as there is no grinding machine the stone grinder is the only means to make the grains consumable. There is no alternative for this other than grinding machine. It renders remarkable service for sustaining their livelihood. It’s part and parcel for sustenance of their livelihood. However, as much as they hate to be into this business of grinding they will not hate other tiresome works no matter however hard it may be in sweltering heat or in an incessant rain, for grinding happens always late night after dinner or in the early morning before breakfast sacrificing their sleep. No matter it happens late night or in the morning, one thing is common, it eats away the sleep which is the sole rationale why all hate it. After toiling round the clock for whole day in the field again they have to stay late night or they have to wake up early the next day for grinding. It’s not as easy as machine does it. Even for grinding few kilograms it takes so much time. If they schedule to grind in the morning they have to get over before dawn. So, they have to wake up as early as 4am. The aged ones, as they keep on rotating the grinder, they would chant prayers to the music of grinding sound which resembles the roaring of tiger, while the young ones, as they keep on rotating the grinder , they would sing to the music of grinding sound.
Whoever has rooted their life from village might have had their share of holding this handle as long as they were in village. I’m no different. As much as I hate to hold the pen and write exam today, I also hated to hold that grinder’s handle and grind it. But when I used to see my mother alone drenched with sweat trying hard with all her effort to rotate despite too heavy to rotate with one person, I used to sacrifice my sleep and help to my mother which is why she used to say very often after dinner, “Tomorrow get up as soon as I wake you, help me to rotate the grinder, it’s too heavy to rotate myself”. Even if I refuse to wake up she would not stop it she would go on all alone sweating. As a mother she was worried and did it whatever she could for welfare of our tummy. When one of the villagers brought the grinding machine all people in the village were happy. My mother was no different, she too was happy. I thought at least she would be freed from grinding which most of time she had to grind alone with her hands blistered. But cruel fate did not allow to continuing her comfortable life.
Grinding machine(source:google images)
It’s been 8-9 years since they got grinding machine. Ever Since they got that grinding machine their sleep has been saving more and more. They don’t have to worry about waking up early. When it’s dawn they have to simply carry the grains to the place where the grinding machine is located. Machine is machine; it grinds quickly unlike stone grinder. Though they have to spare few kilograms (2kgs/20kgs)as a cost for using the machine but their life with this  is far better today. Nobody cares the cost as long as there is grinding machine andtheir grains get grinded properly. Whenever I’m at home on vacation I could see people have walked 2-3 hours carrying loads of grains to my village for grinding. Life in the village is far better today. Year by year, It’s developing more and more with myriad infrastructural facilities…………………


Sangay Pelzang said...

Wai this is interesting, I use to choose pounding of rice over grinding maize in my childhood days. Those are the memories now, but whenever i go for vacation it is easy for me to grind maize than to pound rice bcoz the later one beautifies my palm with blisters..haha.

Chimi Dorji said...

I too used to participate in pounding of rice but now no more, we have grinding machine. It seems you still dont have in your village. SO, if possible make a point to sponsor one when you get employed man, it helps our fellow villagers a lot ...thx for your time on this and commenting..keep visiting!!!

Sangay Pelzang said...

yeah actually there is one gifted by her highness queen mother, but then now it is merely functioning due to some technical problems.

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