People in the west get invariably excited with the onset of summer after the long and harsh winter months. In contrast, most in India are reeling under the intense heat and would prefer the winter season any day! This is quite understandable, as the intermittent power and water supplies in some parts of the country add to the general public’s woes. All this put aside, the Indian summer does have its share of romantic and nostalgic moments which make us love this season.
There are certain associations with summer that have got deeply ingrained in my psyche. Here is my pick of musts for the Indian summer.
Mangoes: Can you imagine an Indian summer without mangoes? A versatile fruit, it finds place in a number of savoury and sweet dishes such as mango shake, mango soufflé and mango ice cream. Every household has to have its share of mango chutney, pickle, ‘aam panna’ ( a delicious mango drink) ,mango rice and what have you! My favourite story is one which my mother often told me. Being one of seven siblings, the whole family used to gather in the courtyard of the house which was close to a passing rivulet. They sat under shady trees, squatting on floor- mats , with dozens of mangoes immersed in tubs full of ice cold water. They all literally had a mango meal, devouring one mango after the other (I assume there was very little scare of pesticide on fruit in those days). My mother also taught me the most elegant way to eat a whole mango without cutting it- creating minimum mess.
Lassi: Lassi or buttermilk is a cool drink prepared with curd and ice cold water and it is the perfect thirst quencher during the summer months. It has many variations – can be had sweetened either with sugar or Rooh- Afza (sharbat) .Sweet mango lassi is also a great option. The figure conscious can enjoy the drink with some salt, roasted cumin powder and a pinch of black pepper. It has cooling properties and is very refreshing. Yet another variation is ‘Katchi lassi’ which is very simple to prepare. Katchi means raw. Just mix cold milk and water in equal proportions and add some sugar or syrup like rose syrup or saffron. Top with lots of crushed ice. Serve in a tall glass. Garnish with dollops of fresh cream. Delicious!
Visit grandparents: Summer is the time to visit grandparents. It is essentially a time when the whole extended family can gather at one place. As a kid, for me it was a time to catch up with cousins and while away the time playing board games like luddo, scrabble and monopoly, while the adults played cards or were busy discussing the wedding preparations of an older cousin.
Head to the hills: Oh yes ! People would rather travel abroad now, given the chance. But a drive uphill to places like Shimla, Barog, Mussoorie or Manali has its own charm. A weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life and the slight nip in the air is the perfect way to recharge a tired body and soul.
Getting wet in monsoon showers: How incredibly romantic it is to get wet in the monsoon showers. Nothing can surpass the heady and musky scent of the wet soil when the first drops of rain splash the earth. Add to that the piquant aroma of freshly fried delicacies like ‘pakoras’ coupled with cups of hot cardamom ‘chai’ (tea). Ah! These are definitely moments worth treasuring. Inevitably, I get reminded of soul stirring melodies of late Shri Jagjit Singh and Shubha Mudgal and my mind conjures up images of all the wonderful bollywood rain songs.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There is so much more to love about this season. What do you like about the Indian summer? I would love to hear!
In life there is so much that we wish for and so much that we wish to achieve.But, sometimes that little voice somewhere in the mind, that urges you to follow your passion and pursue a dream can get lost in the humdrum and mundane duties and activities of day to day life. I am not talking of studies during student days or your work.That is a routine part of your life (unless you are one of the lucky ones whose work itself is their passion).What I am presently focussing on is a passion like learning to dance or wanting to scale a mountain peak,that might have taken a back seat.
A tip is to finally make a start.Find time to pursue your dream.Be inspired.Let me take my own example.I used to write when in college, highly influenced by greats such as William Wordsworth and Jane Austin.Then I took a long sabbatical and resumed writing a bit seriously in 2012.Since then there has been no looking back, with several articles published.In fact I also wished to have my own blog but somehow never really took the initiative.The idea generally got postponed on account of more urgent work.Finally it seems the time is now right.So here I am today with inspiration given by my son, with my very first post!
‘Lock-up your libraries if you like ; but there is no gate ,no lock,no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.’ —- Virginia Woolf
I am a die hard optimist,absolutely in love with all the colours of life. After all we live only once so why not make the most of it? Life is in deed a roller coaster ride with high as well as low points.The optimism comes in handy to tide over the low phases keeping the zest for living it to the fullest, alive.
Riturang has been visualised as a magazine with content ranging from articles to recipes and reviews. I hope you enjoy reading.