Where are those golden days...
As I listen to a good old hindi song "Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din"....I sing along drifting away in thoughts.
Its yet another scorching summer time at Chennai.
Blazing heat and perspiration running down from forehead to little toe.
Sitting in front of my PC in a high rise apartment, I wonder and drown in nostalgia.
Summer vacations meant joy, happiness, enjoyment.
It used to be filled with small thrills, small eats but great excitement and happiness.
All age groups of cousins, friends met up during these vacations.
Felt as if they discovered new meaning of life with their innovative games and street sports.
Ours used to be an independent house with a massive garden area on three sides.
It used to be checkered with trees, plants and shrubs of all types, shapes, sizes and hues of green. Summer flowers and fruits waving in the breeze.
Most importantly the mango tree at the front. This attracted maximum stone pelting by street boys for want of mangoes.
Days began with a yummy breakfast of pazhayadhu (basically curd mixed with left over rice) with Maavadu around 8 am.
Moms and aunts were behind us, yelling from the kitchen, to go take a shower which generally fell into deaf ears.
Finally when we couldnt come up with anymore excuses, we used to queue up and fight as to who will shower first.
Those few minutes of waiting used to seem forever with hunger pangs acting up.
Then it was lunch at noon. The best ever cuisine in the world, "Amma kai saapaadu" or the mothers' touch.
Be it simple sambhar and beans curry, it used to taste so yummy that heart felt satiated more than tummy itself.
The happy tummy and mid day scorching sun kept us indoors.
Each of us used to settle in a corner with some comics or story book, slowly drifting into an afternoon siesta.
And yes, we definitely fought as to who will nap on the Oonjal (the swing).
Our swing used to be huge and strong bound to the ceiling with thick iron chains.
As kids, it could almost fit us all. Lying huddled, legs and hands on each other, swinging in a gentle sway felt awesome as if being cradled in mother's arms.
The aroma of pre evening coffee used to tickle our nostrils, when we all used to wake up for more mischief and fun.
Coffee was always accompanied by fried snacks or fruits. This was summer special at our household.
The salivating aroma of the Bajjis, Bondas, Pakodas wafting in the air from the kitchen made us settle down there.
After a day or two of utter chaos and fiasco, moms and aunts became too smart.
They used to complete making the whole lot and then served us all at a time and in equal portions.
This done, again we march into the garden to water the plants and in the process drenching each other completely.
All the running, chasing, playing hide and seek made us tired.
If not for this, we stay put at the Thinnai playing Carrom, Pallanguzhi, Ammaanai, Aadu puli aattam or Ludo.
As the sun set, it was time for yet another bath or washing up.
Thatha was particular we prayed in front of god. We were asked to sing a hymn or bhajan or recite something we learnt.
The men of the family would be back by then from office.
It was then family time.
The patriarch of the family, my grandfather, sat in his easy chair.
All aunts uncles, dad & mom settled in the Thinnai (cement benches in the courtyard)
We kids lined up in the five steps at the entrance.
These were specially designed by Thatha using red oxide paint to make it feel cool and smooth as butter.
The cool evening breeze would have set in by now making it easy and comfortable.
The chat went on from good old grandma stories to daily anecdotes...
Movies to politics to changing trends...
Believe me, it was much more interesting than all our FBs and Whatsapp...
Hike and the likes...
Evening meant freshly made "manga curry" - specialty of my grandpa.
He insisted on cutting the mangoes in thin pieces, marinating it with salt and chilli powder with a dash of gingely oil. He would make it in a big bowl and come up to each of us serving big spoonfuls.
Oh My!!! yumminess personified... The sour mangoes with a mild tinge of sweetness, the salt and chilli combination running along, would tickle the taste beds of even a non living thing.
Very soon it was dinner time. It was always light.
Amma or athai or chithi used to mix the left over rice from morning with the sambhar and curry or some Thogayal for the side.
Once we kids lined up in front of her she would make large balls of this mixture and place it in our hands one after the other. We used to gobble up as if we havnt seen food in ages.
The same with curd rice.
It was sleep time soon.
Fighting begins as to who will go to bed next to grandpa, and those aunts who were good story tellers.
Finally with that aunt in the middle all kids align around her.
The 10 - 30 days of vacation summed up Ramayana, Mahabaratha and Tenali Raman stories and stayed fresh in our minds in ages to come.
Once in a while it was cinema time or we lined up to go to the Marina Beach.
The pop corns, samosas and fanta meant way more to us than the movie itself.
Likewise the "thenga manga pattani sundal" and "milaga bajji" at the Marina more than made up for the long bus travel and the crowded atmosphere. Not withstanding the sweltering heat and humidity.
Gone are those days of simple happiness and contentment.
Andha Naalum Vandhidaadho...