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Days of Summer--3

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Those lazy,blazy days are back--and today is May Day--the first of May!!Staying put in Mumbai can be swelteringly humid and hot--but there are certain perquisites that one enjoys--the juicy,yummy Summer Fruits!! Mangoes top the list--followed by the luscious deep Purple Java Plums--called "Jaamun/Jaambhaley" in Hindi and Marathi.Today these are wildly expensive for their anti Diabetic virtues are widely known--making this indigenous Tree a very popular source of various Medicinal uses unheard of in my childhood!!
As a child I have enjoyed a surfeit of this sweet,sour,tart but lusciously juicy fruit the entire Summer.Our Garden sported a few Trees that bore a generous quantity of Fruit.Daddy would spread out our old Bed Sheets under the Trees to catch the free fall of Fruit from above.These Trees would be so laden with Fruits that even a slight Breeze could cause a deluge!!The Bed Sheets sported deep Purple patches for the Juice leaves an indelible stain and were set aside only for that purpose.During our visits to my maternal Grandparents' home in Poona/Pune,many Hawkers would begin making the rounds since early morning--selling portions of this Fruit with a sprinkling of Sea Salt on it----my mouth waters as I write--many years have passed since but the divine taste still lingers on my tongue!!Sometime while I was growing up Daddy devised a safety Net to catch the Fruit--for it's falling to the ground would sometimes bruise the Fruit badly.We spent so many hours experimenting with the Net before giving up---for getting the Fruit laden Net down was an impossible task!!
Of Course we had our share of Watermelons,Musk Melons and Cantaloupes coming in from the hot Desert Sands of Rajasthan---very sweet and juicy!!There were also the fresh Figs and Papayas from our own Garden and because of this surfeit we'd grumble whenever we had to finish the Fruits!!We were ungrateful wretches--for today when I shell out a pretty penny to buy a far lesser quality of Fruit I always wish that I could just pop back into the Past just to pluck a few succulently plump Figs and sweet Papayas---- for the Fruit in the market rarely matches up to the memory!!Our proximity to Shimla and the Hills meant a steady supply of Fruits from the colder Clime----Cherries,Plums and Apricots.Mummy would be busy making Jam--the Mangoes and other Fruits from the Garden would all begin to ripen all at once--resulting in a splurge of Mango,Fig,Loquat and Mixed Fruit Jams from our own Garden.There would also be plenty of Jellies made with pieces of the Fruit , Fruit Juice and Gelatin---all set in our Icebox in the Pantry.Though the means were not sophisticated the results were truly superlative---in fact so good that they can still surpass many of the best today!!
There would also be huge Ceramic Vats of Mango Pickle---for the huge number of Mango Trees also ensured a steady supply of unripe Green Mangoes and these would be turned into huge Jars of spicy,hot Mango Pickle.Some would be turned into Mango Panna and Mango Squash-----and no matter how many bottles of these poor Mummy made we'd ensure that they'd be over as soon she turned them out!!Today when I glance back over the years and compare my childhood with that of my daughters and grand-daughter, I feel that I was truly blessed to be born in an Era when many things were still simple and pristinely pure--very much as God and Nature intended them to be!!One cannot truly forget the pleasures of Summer--the limited choice of Vegetables would bring out new depths to the way our Cooks thought.There would be some really superb dishes crafted out of the humble Bottle Gourd to add variety to our Menus.That is why I was surprised to learn that there were very few Vegetables that Sudhir actually ate when I came Bombay/Mumbai after our marriage.Living in Bombay meant that they had access to all Vegetables--Summer and Winter variety all year round.So Cauliflower and Green Peas were very much favoured in our home.So also were the fresh Variety of Seeds--the Green Kidney Beans and Green Field Beans being equally popular.The Winter variety of the fresh Lima Beans--shaded in pastel Pink and White were perhaps the most popular of all!!
Sudhir's Vacation meant that I just never cooked at home--he'd say that all of us deserved a break and so except the early morning and afternoon cups of Tea we never ate any of our Meals at home!!There was an Eatery in Girgaon region of Bombay called "The Virkar Velankar Aahaar Bhuvan" run by a Brahmin family.It was our most favourite place to eat our Lunches and Dinners at.Vegetarian only it served an exquisitely simple, unlimited,extremely homely " Thali" the taste of which was delicious and wholesome.Their Menus differed daily and they served a huge variety of Salads and Green Vegetables--my own personal favourites.Today if I can make a variety of different Raitas and Salads it is thanks to the amazing variety I enjoyed there!!Eating there also familiarised me with the huge variety of ways to disguise the lesser considered species of Vegetables into mouth watering Favourites---and Sudhir was a prime example of this for he began first eating and then later enjoying these Vegetables as much as I did!!For the Girls it was the way they served their Dal and Rice with a tiny bowl of "Ghee" in each "Thali".Also the many bowls of fresh Mango Pulp called "Aam Rass" downed with scores of hot,crisp deep fried "Puries" was something they never could get enough of!!The wonderful Faloodas and Ice Creams from Jai Hind Ice Cream Parlour in Nana Chowk,the chopped Fresh Fruits smothered in Cream at Batchelor's on Marine Drive,the divine Kulfi available in Matunga and Shivaji Park and the best freshly squeezed chilled tall glasses of fresh Fruit Juices at Sukh Sagar were to die for-----but then I'm forgetting those divinely refreshing wonderful,chilled,tall Punjabi Glasses of fresh Sugarcane Juice flavoured with fresh Ginger Root and Lime at Apollo Bunder--better known as The Gateway of India!!
Since my very early childhood Summer to me has meant the musky scent of Mangoes ripening in their bed of Hay pervading our home.That is something I have to admit has never changed over the years that have passed by--the very scent of Summer permeates my home each year since mid-March----and the musky allure of the King of Fruits is very difficult to resist!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERIRIDDELL 5/12/2013 12:45AM

    My mouth is watering and I am going to make myself a mango lassi now.....

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BOVEY63 5/1/2013 5:00PM

    It would be nice to have fruit like that growing nearby, but with our long winters, not much fruit grows here.

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MAGIK0731 5/1/2013 8:36AM

    In reading your blog I had a sudden urge for a fruit salad but I know the fruits here are no where near the fruits you had then. Thanks for sharing. Your blogs are always a joy for me to read.

Btw, I have heard of jaamun but never had one.

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SAASHA17 5/1/2013 7:36AM


Love jaamun..every school had a tree and we would pick the fallen ones while waiting for the school bus...Yum!! i think every summer I had purple stains on my school uniform...hahaha..Growing up jaamun and Ber (indian jujube)...yum!!!

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I need to find some good food here. All our fruits are still imported as growing season has just started.
Soon we'll see strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Those will be followed by blueberries.
The tree fruits take more time and I won't be having them until late summer.

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Monsoon Views

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Doodh Sagar Falls enroute Mumbai to Goa

Kashedi Ghat--Mumbai Goa Highway

Enroute to the Konkan from Mumbai

A Konkani Hamlet on the way

Paddy Fields on the Way

The Monsoon Beauty in The Ghats on way to Goa

The Western Ghats of India

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUDYAMK 6/6/2013 10:50PM

    Oh my gosh this is beautiful thank thank you for sharing

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CHERIRIDDELL 5/12/2013 12:40AM

    Simply breathtaking.I have always loved photos or better yet being there when there is water to observe !

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BOVEY63 4/29/2013 4:39PM

    Simply beautiful!!!!

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    I could sit and watch the water for hours! thanks.

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LOOKINGUP2012 4/27/2013 2:36PM

    India is so beautiful.

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WALLINMW 4/27/2013 11:38AM

  Stay on track!

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ROSCOEKR 4/27/2013 11:37AM

    Nice pictures, enjoy yourself.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Last night we had a friend of Ritu's over for Dinner.This lady named Matangi also happens to be Ritu's ex Boss and lives in Singapore.During the course of our conversation a few topics came up which partly set off a chain of Memories but also provided fresh fodder for thought!!Matangi's mother is more known as "Amma" than by her personal name is a sprightly lady turning 80 this year.She is an inspiration to folks like me because of the manner in which she approaches life---indefatigable and enthusiastic about everything in general!!Matangi's throwing an intimate Dinner Party for her--and we were invited to it too---the answer I gave is what is puzzling me.
I refused---because to be totally honest I just do not want to participate in any kind of social activity even though the person whom it is for is someone I find personally inspirational and motivating.There is this desire to keep to my own company--at the same time I mean no disrespect to Amma. Another conversation that I had with Sayali over my 60th. birthday that falls later this year also has some common ground.I'm not keen to celebrate it---because to me it is just a date and nothing more.What I would really like would be to just spend some quality time bonding with my immediate family--not a Party or any kind of Festivities.This is not a new thing--I had wanted to bring in my 50th.Birthday with just Sudhir for company but he along with my mother,his and my siblings felt differently and we had a Family Get-together at our home.
Sudhir had many phobias---not celebrating his own Birthday and our Wedding Anniversary ever was one of these.All our Anniversaries were something we celebrated by being just the two of us together--and I loved that--because we both agreed on it being a special day for us and we loved keeping it exclusive.That is why we never went out of the way to celebrate our Silver Wedding--much to my brother-in-law Milind's chagrin.It was he who rounded up the siblings from both sides of the family along with my mother and we had an impromptu Celebration at our home here--for they all landed up at the same time with huge parcels of Mutton Biryani and Fried Fish and Salad--while we were planning on spending the evening by ourselves!!Our oldest nephew shares his Birthday with our Anniversary and his wife had thrown a Party to celebrate it---and all our kids were there---living it up!!However it turned out to be a nice Anniversary--maybe not as private as we had hoped but still cosy and lots of Fun!!
Sudhir hated celebrating his birthdays--he just didn't like the idea at all!!So except for his 50th.--when the entire immediate and extended Family descended on us in full force--we never ever celebrated any of his birthdays. This one too was something that I'll never ever forget.I had been informed by everyone in advance that they'd not miss this one and that they'd be there for his Birthday and so I'd made arrangements to have a huge Shamiana/Marqee in the Garden with Tables and Chairs and a Food Counter.Unfortunately a young neighbour of mine asked him about whose party it was and why.That did it---the arrangements had to be cancelled!!He raised Hell and we were seriously quarreling for a week before the Event--and finally I had to run around making space in our Flat for more than 60 adults and children running around our Flat which honestly was a bit of a tight fit--when it could have been so much more comfortable in the Garden!!To top it all--the Electricity chose that very night to black out--and his birthday was celebrated in a very traditional style--a typical old fashioned Menu with all his favourite dishes--- more than 5 Vegetable and Dal Curries,5 Sweet Courses,2 Rice Courses and about 5 different types of Salad served with the usual "Papads," Vegetable Fritters, deep fried Indian Bread called" Puries" not to forget the dried Mangosteen shells Curry with Coconut Milk known as "Sol Kadhi" and Yoghurt--a "pucca" Traditional Vegetarian Dinner by Candlelight!!I had cooked each and everything myself and it was served with the low "Chourangas" or four legged low tables to keep the Banana Leaf on and the traditional "paats" or floor level wooden slats to sit on.I had drawn the "Rangoli" patterns around each individual table with coloured Marble Dust on the floor and the scent from the overflowing trays filled with "Chaaphaa" Flowers mingled with the scent of his favourite Sandal Wood Incense creating an ethereal Atmosphere---it was sublimely spiritual and very,very beautiful!!Maybe God wanted me to have my dream after all!!
Sudhir would love celebrating my birthdays till I fell sick---and that was when he just stopped.He was very superstitious about being too expansive and perhaps the serious aspect of my illnesses made him very vulnerable and scared about my living long enough--at least till he lived!!The result of this was those intimate little Birthdays I craved--just him and me.In 2011 he suddenly insisted we go out for my birthday and visit all our old haunts--and it was truly beautiful for me.The Rain swept view of the Gateway of India from our favourite table at The Sea Lounge at The Taj Palace,the walk down "Kala Ghoda" and a drive down a Wind and Rain swept Marine Drive and Worli Sea Face put the crown on a perfect day--and the Memory is something i shall treasure as long as I live!!He died a bare 45 days later--and now Birthdays no longer hold any magic for me--they are just days when one realises that one has lived for another year according to the Calendar!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOVEY63 4/29/2013 4:39PM

    What a beautiful memory of your last birthday with Sudhir.

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CHERIRIDDELL 4/27/2013 1:31AM

    Of course it is your choice how you celebrate but I can't help but think your birthday is a special day.We were blessed with you in our lives.You make our lives that much richer with every blog you write,I can't help but think Sudhir would feel honoured that you are sharing your special love with your friends making them understand what a truly special love you have and will have for eternity.Your gift for writing makes you a talented and welcome visitor in our hearts ,I am thankful I can call you friend.hugs,Cheri

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JUDYAMK 4/26/2013 8:58PM

    I guess I feel differently. Anna means so much to you, I would feel that within her very being she would feel a hurt within her because you are not there to celebrate her special day. Plus Matangi invited you thinking you would come otherwise she would not have ask you. Am I wrong to think this? My husband does not like going to any functions, however he does because I told him we were thought enough of to be ask. He squirms in his seat at the function like a little boy wanting to run away!!

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LOOKINGUP2012 4/26/2013 3:26PM

    I could weep for you. Your memories are so precious. What a remarkable couple you were. May God keep you close to his heart as those dates of celebration draw near again.

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MAGIK0731 4/26/2013 9:40AM

    Wow, what an interesting spin on birthdays. I am one of those that feel birthdays are special days because that is the day you came into the world and therefore should be celebrated. How you want to celebrate is totally up to the individual and like you mentioned, you felt as though those celebrations, like your anniversary should be spent on an intimate level and not a HUGE party, that is understandable.

In reading your blog, I can't help but feel sadness at the end with your writing. emoticon I can only hope that your relatives respect your feelings towards celebrations and I am sure Amma won't feel any ill for you not wanting to celebrate with her. Afterall, maybe she feels the same way but just chooses to keep it to herself.

By the way, in your blog I have learned a new word: "indefatigable" so thanks for that. emoticon

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Just Ruminating 2

Thursday, April 25, 2013

As the Summer rolls on and as the sweltering heat keeps escalating to new heights each day,the somnolent afternoons are more condusive to Siestas---not work!!For me just lying back on our bed and gazing out of the wide window into the depths of the hot Blue Sky-----makes me really wonder about the direction in which actually my life is going.It's funny but dates have begun to merge into one another--I'm just drifting through the various months indifferently--there is no change and no excitement--just the same boring similarity in the manner in which I'm passing the days!!
Unbidden my mind keeps harking back to a much healthier Past--the days when my day fell short by quite a few hours to finish my chores in!!Now thanks to the Weather the chores are done early--because the Heat just drains one out completely.I never had a minute to myself--the entire day was taken up with activities revolving around Sudhir--he was the very centre of my Universe!!Just t6he other night I came home from our daily "Darbar" by 8.45 p.m.---something that I wouldn't even have dreamt of when he was there!!We just didn't realise how fast the Clock was ticking--all of us were completely involved in some inane topic that we were discussing with such passion!!Not just that,even the Yoga Classes are different.3 years back I'd be impatient for these to draw to a close--for a hundred things still undone would make me fidgety--today however it does not matter at all if Mitra sneaks the Bar up by a few extra minutes---there is no hurry for no one is waiting for me at home---Time is no longer of any consequence!!
One always dreams of having extra time--but never in this manner!!I wanted to have lots of leisure but with Sudhir-- for no matter however much of Time we spent together--for me it was never enough!!He always accused me of not liking Bombay/Mumbai---not that he was entirely wrong but I definitely had my reasons. Sudhir was one of those people who are passionately committed to their Profession.Many times people would call him while we were eating a Meal--he'd entertain each and every Client--pushing his food aside and letting it go cold but he never told the caller that he was eating his Meal and that he'd call back a few minutes later!!One sentence that rings in my head is one which he'd throw at me often whenever I exploded--it was "I'm like a Doctor to them--do you consider that the Doctor too has a private life in an Emergency?Well this too is a matter of Life or Death to some of my Clients and I need to reassure them that everything will be just fine and lay their minds at rest"!!
During the Vacations that is why I'd drag him out of Bombay/Mumbai for a few days.Despite all my Machiavellian Plans we never spent the entire Vacation away from home---at the most 3 weeks was what he'd allot me----and no amount of arguing,sulking or crying would move him even a tiny bit!!He always said that I came back home with a sour face--that's actually true too--for once we were home I'd have to share him with his Clients!!Today I do not feel like leaving this Flat we called home--all our Memories are here!!That is one of the reasons I'm braving the Heat--for even though Ritu's Chemo takes place every 3 weeks,it still leaves us sufficient time of roughly 15 days in between to go on a short Vacation if we can.Unfortunately the urge to escape Mumbai hasn't struck yet---and somehow,I don't think it ever will!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERIRIDDELL 4/27/2013 1:21AM

    Komal like your other friends I think that perhaps a journey might do you good.But if you choose to stay with your memories in Mumbai make sure you enjoy all that Mumbai has to offer I am sure Sudhir would want you to enjoy things still remember he will be waiting for you when you join him and he will expect you to tell him of the adventures you have had till you could rejoin him!

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BOVEY63 4/25/2013 4:07PM

    Your traveling spirit will rise and you will find yourself off and exploring again.

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LOOKINGUP2012 4/25/2013 8:56AM

    To everything there is a season.
Your world has been shockingly changed.
Resting is good.

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PUDLECRAZY 4/25/2013 5:41AM

    I agree with Janet; I was thinking the same thing as I read your blog. You love to travel and experience different parts of the world. A short vacation get-a-way may do your soul good. Also, it is hard to be in oppressive heat that long and not feel malaise.

How is Ritu's chemo going?

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    I think taking a short break away from home would be good for you.
You are a traveler.
Go breathe some mountain air for 2 days to restart your energy.
I took a 2 day trip to some pretty mountains several weeks ago, in the snow.
I love being able to see far away...it's makes me feel smaller and my problems more manageable.

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Days of Summer--2

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Though now Summer has lost it's shine after Sudhir passed away, the Memories still retain that alluring glow--and it really makes me laugh at the way we shaped up through the years!!Bombay was not as hot in those days--in fact the pleasant Winter cool would linger on till April and then the Summer would start in earnest!!Our family home had one peculiarity--none of the Ceiling Fans in any of the rooms had regulators!!They were permanently set at full----and so too the Air Conditioners.It used to be amusing to see Nina--Milind's wife--preparing for bed every night.She'd wear thick socks,a Cardigan and a scarf around her head--for all the Bedrooms would turn pretty chilly during the night--with both the Air Conditioner and Fans going full blast each night!!Add to that the starched Bed Linen---and hopefully you visualise the scene!!
By the time the first Summer Vacation came around after our marriage, I was already pregnant with Lotta. Those days I gloried in the heat---and would be totally impervious to the heat and humidity in Bombay.We had booked our Train Tickets and were to leave after the traditional Baby Shower that had been planned for me in mid May.The very same day one of Sudhir's friends was getting married too---and the Venue was just a 5 minute stroll away.I still remember walking to the Wedding in the afternoon heat----dressed in a heavy Gold woven Silk sari---my stomach protruding out and my hair full of Flowers!!I must have looked like a veritable Flower Pot for my hair was covered with these!!Till today I can recall the scent of those beautiful tiny Jasmine Stars--locally called Zaaee--Zuee--with an elusively intoxicating smell.The immense variety of Jasmine available in India--and primarily in the South-Western Region is of a very high quality with a beautiful haunting perfume.
Our Friday nights were always full--the 9'0 clock night show would always be booked in advance.As my stomach began protruding people would automatically step aside to let me pass--and I'd sail by with my stomach pointing the way!!My weight shot from 90 lbs. to 170 lbs in just 7 months flat--no surprise at all because I was blessed with two things--a gargantuan appetite and a capacity for putting away huge amounts of Food at one sitting--a legacy of my upbringing!!And yes--the most important factor of all--a husband who indulged my every whim and fancy with a smile!!In later years he used to blame himself for letting me have my way with Food--his greatest regret was that he should have protested and put his foot down then---maybe perhaps I'd have been spared some of ailments in later life!! My outlook is this---my appetite for many things lessened with age because I indulged at the right age and stage in my life.Hence when I have to live on a restricted life now I have no regrets--for I have no more cravings or wants and am completely satisfied in both--my heart and soul!!
Sudhir too loved the heat--and very often people could see us driving all over Town during the day in the Summer.He loved Cars--and the mornings would begin with the Newspaper spread out on the Vehicles Advertisements page.He'd mark the ones that appealed to him--primarily those that announced that the owner was a Parsi--for that community was the best when it came to keeping everything in a spankingly shiny,well maintened status--lovingly used!!How many times have we driven across the desrted roads in the afternoon heat--our windows rolled down to let the hot Wind blow through the front seat!!Later Lotta too became a permanent fixture along with me till Sayali came along---for then it would be all four of us bowling along!!!It had become a way of life--a bag full of Clothes, Nappies,Baby Powder and Skin Creams--another with a tin of Milk Powder and hot water in a Thermos Flask,a capped bowl full of dry Farex Powder and finally a third one carrying the portable Potty for the Girls.We went everywhere like that--the Movies,Plays and Drives--we two and our two!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERIRIDDELL 4/24/2013 12:54AM

    Such lovely memories I love reading them!

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BOVEY63 4/22/2013 4:00PM

    So many beautiful memories!

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JUDYAMK 4/22/2013 8:10AM

    I can just picture the entire scene in my mind, You write in so much detail in your stories that you put the reader right in the scenes that are going on. Thank you for taking us along.

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    I can add to that a playpen, stroller, bag full of clothing changes and a tricycle.
By the time my little one came along her sister was 3 years old and full of energy. We purchased a full sized van, the cargo kind with a back seat, to haul all this stuff. I traveled frequently to my parents house 100 miles away!

The good old days!

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DLBROWN93 4/20/2013 5:04AM

    Sorry for your loss.

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