Monday, May 10, 2010
One act takes precedence over everything else---dictated by Family Tradition-------it still is the first thing on the agenda on reaching Kolhapur-------that is to pay homage to "Aai Aambaa Bai" as the Goddess Mahalaxmi,patron Deity of this Town is known.The feeling of being blessed by Her adds a subtle glow to our visit----meeting Her is one of my favourite things----I ask Her to bring me back next year-----to pay homage to Her and to be blessed by Her again!!!However the crowds are growing each year-----till I think it will be impossible to see her face to face in the Sanctum Sanctorum-----each visit has begun taking longer to reach Her presence!!!
In my childhood we'd accompany my paternal Grandma Akka to the Temple-----it used to be a beautiful place those days----no crowds,only the regular devotees present,the huge "Aavaar" or Compound of the Temple open for us to play hide-n-seek in.We loved coming here not only because of the peace and quiet in the premises-----but because we'd pass the Temple Elephant on the way in-----the entire huge Temple Complex exuded an aura----a palpable sensation of the Deity's presence.
Another motivation was the fresh "Prasad" of pure Milk "Kandi" Pedhey available on the main Gate or "Maha Dwaar"-----we could eat kilos of the Stuff----much to Akka's dismay!! then there were those visits to Imperial and Solanki Ice Cream Parlours to gorge on those creamy,freshly churned Ice Creams-----I'm shocked to remember the amount we'd put away----sheer gluttony!!!!Even today that is one thing I must eat----at least once at Imperial's!!!Milk products of Kolhapur are legendary and an integral part of our lives.Each visit I carry back kilos of the Kandi Pedhas for everybody in Mumbai---this too is a Family tradition-----whoever visits Kolhapur returns with Kilos of Pedhas and a spicy treat called "Baakar Vadi"-----hot,spicy,deep fried----but oh so yummmmmmmyyyyy!!!!
Next on my agenda is a trip to the River Panchaganga-----flowing so languidly-----tthe beautiful Sunset from "Brahmapuri" Point next to it is so picturesque----the languid River,the lush Green Sugar Cane Plantations,the tall Tamarind,GulMohur and Banyan Trees casting their lengthening shadows on the ground in the Orange hued Sunlight of the setting Sun-----a deepening Orange Ball as it sinks into the misty Twilight----the River shining like liquid Gold wherever the rays fall----the evening Breeze,the Birds chattering in their nests-----the Temples on the Riverbank gazing at their reflections in the Water----even today the scene hasn't changed----it is this Timelessness that binds me here----I'm still a child,a teenager and a woman---my past,my present all meet here to create the Now-----I know there's no going back----like the River Time too flows forward------still I renew my ties to the old World here---most effectively!!!
We'll be visiting our Uncle and brother's homes----our Uncle just shifted into a new Flat after selling the old home while my brother's home is huge-----right next door to him.Both my Aunt and Ashwini are fantabulous Cooks----Dinners at their homes are just yummy!!!I have a date with my sister-in-law Ashwini this evening----she'll take me to buy all the stuff I need-----fresh ground Turmeric Powder,spicy Methkoot Powder,Kolhapuri Chutney-----all from "Pandharpurey's" near the old House in Shukrawar Peth------besides other stuff from the Market----the Car's going back full!!!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Each week I have a date----with my Closets!!!Tedious but necessary----these contain my wonderful Treasure of different types of Fabrics---gathered from all over India---and very close to my heart---hence prized possessions!!!
My Steel cupboard contains my real hoard---beautiful Silk Saries from almost every corner of India.The East is represented in the Jewel coloured intricately hand embroidered Kathas, Dhakaai Jaamdaanis,Baalucharis,Assamese Mekhalas,Ikats and Bomkais-----Banarasi Silk ,Kashmiri Silk and Chinon represents the North,shimmering multi coloured Patolas,Chiffon Lehariyas represent the extreme West,delicately woven gauzy Chanderis,Kotaas and Maheshwaris are a symbol of Central India----commonly known as the "Dil" or Heart of India ,The handwoven Paithanis,Irkallis and the traditional "Garbhareshami Lugadis" from my native Maharashtra,and last but not least, the beautifully rich thick Silks of the South----Kanchipurams,Dharmavarams,Gadhwal
s and Pochampallis----all so very beautiful and rich----the wonderful feel of these Fabrics is enough to transport me to a different time and place!!!
Those days I wore only Saries----and just loved these beautiful six yards of Fabric----but what I loved most was the traditional Stuff!!!We used to have Fabric Exhibitions in Mumbai at the time----Pavilions used to be put up of different States----so it was a must visit place for me.Many trips would be made there to pick up beautiful Block printed,hand Embroidered,hand Woven Bed Linen,The beautiful Bomkai of Orissa,the intricately woven shimmering Banarasi------not to forget the delicate Lucknowi Chikans from Uttar Pradesh and the light as Air Kotaas----these would be made from superfine Cotton with a Gold Thread woven into them----very beautiful but so expensive!!!
I began collecting these---Traditional styles which were timeless---Temple borders,pure Siver Thread hand woven stuff---one at a time till today I have 2 Closets full of these and a heart full of Memories associated with them.I still have my beautiful wedding Banarasi "Shaalu"----fully woven with Silk and Gold Thread---still radiant like new!!!Seeing my obsession with these Sudhir suggested that I hold Exhibitions of these after Lotta's marriage.Bad idea---I'd fall in love with the stock and hand pick the ones I liked----then proceed to fix exorbitantly priced labels on them---ensuring that no one bought these----all the profit I made would be poured into buying these!!!!
My switching over to Salwar Kameezes brought me no relief from my avarice---I began collecting wonderful Pure Cotton Stuff----I cook in heavier material though I love buying those for the Girls----again intricaately hand embroidered Kathas,Chickans,hand woven Kotaas---Maheshwaris,Chanderis and Traditional Marathi "Khan" fabrics----these are my truly beloved and prized possessions----in June I've promised myself of drafting my Will---settling the score of my beloved Jewel Coloured Memories!!!!With the exception of my Wedding Sari the rest will be divided between my Girls equally----I'll leave home dressed in my "Shaalu" on my last journey!!!!
Monday, May 03, 2010
Vacations have an aura around them------the very mention of these relaxes the tense muscles and soothes frayed nerves-----that's way I react to them!!!!For me the thought of just not hurrying around all the time-------just the thought is such a boon!!!
Since childhood Vacations have been special for me----apart from the Home Work alloted to us during the longest Vacation----May to July---which fell in the middle of the School year-----filled with hot,hot Summer days!!!!We also had Vacations for Diwali and Christmas---the weather would range from balmy and cool in October-November for Diwali to cold and chilly during the Winters in December.Christmas----that was a fabulous Vacation---thanks to it being the year ending!!!Life started anew after that---a New Year and a New Class,Books------I can still remember the beautiful smell of those new books!!!!
The Seasons all had a special flvour to them----the Summer Vacations brought with them Watermelons and Cantaloupes grown in the Desert of Rajasthan-----ripened in the hot Sands under a blazing Sun---full of juicy sweetness!!!!There were also the wild Mangoes gathered from the Trees growing wild----these too used to burst with sweet juice----we'd just wash them and suck the Juice later eating all the remaing pulp on the Skin and Seeds-----till there was nothing but the white Seed and thin Skin left!!!These Fruits used to be kept in a Tin Tub filled with Water to cool them down-----all Mangoes,Watermelons and Cantaloupes.A favourite after Dinner Dessert was flavoured Watermelon------a large chunk would be cut in the rind of the Watermelon---and a mixture made from 70-75% Rooh Afza(an Indian Sherbet) and 25-30%Water would be poured into the inside of the Fruit.The chunk would be replaced in it's original position on the Rind to seal the Fruit----this would be placed in Water leaving the cut part of the Rind above the level of Water---and set aside for the whole day.At night the Watermelon would be cut up and eaten----it used to be Heaven to eat it---with the Juice dripping down our chins!!!In June the deep Red juicy Cherries,Plums,velvety Apricots and Peaches,Pears would all descend on the markets from the hilly regions of the Himalayan Foot Hills----Figs,Litchies,Loquats and the cultivated species of Mangoes,seedless White Grapes----my mouth's watering----I better stop!!!
The Diwaali Vacations meant loads of Fun for us----Mummy's frienfds and their children would arrive by 10.30 a.m. each morning for a week before the Festival---the women carrying their Kerosene Stoves and raw Ingredients for the various Maharashtrian snacks.Since we had a Cook,Lunch was no problem----we kids would have a great time---sneaking onto the back Porch where our mothers were busy rolling out, roasting,deep frying,or binding various traditional Sweets and Savouries-----various Laddus,Chirotey(Saat Padi),Shankarpaaley,Chakli,Chivda,Sheva,An
arsey----too many to list here!!!These were stored in huge Steel drums called"Saaths" and these drums could accomodate a minimum quantity of 15 Kgs. at a time----today I salute their capacity to make three different items daily by Tea time using such primitive equipment!!!All this would stop in the evenings when all the fathers too would congragate at our home after leaving their Offices!!!After that Daddy'd insist on everyone leaving after Dinner----we'd be a minimum of 30-35 people daily for Dinner those days!!!Even today the memory uplifts my mood each time I remember those days---------hospitality had a different meaning and wore a more welcoming look then!!!!
The Winter Vacation too had it's own characteristics------the markets would be flush with our favourite Vegetables----milky white Cauliflowers,crisp white Radishes,juicy Green Peas,sweet Red Carrots,ripe Red Tomatoes-----everything would be organically grown both in Kitchen Gardens and on the Vegetable Farms.The juicy "maltas" were a Winter speciality---like an Orange but extremely sweet and juicy these were consumed by the dozens!!!These days were a hub of delicious activity----"Aamla" the Indian Gooseberry would flood the markets as would tiny sweet red juicy Carrots---these would be cooked in Sugar Syrup(Murabba) and preserved for the coming year---a favourite accompaniment to our meals!!!So also the wonderful Sweet and Spicy Pickle made from Cauliflowers,Turnips and Carrots---this Pickle would cook in the Winter Sunlight in Ceramic Jars ----with cloths tied round mouths of these Jars------ drinking in the Sun's rays!!!These were the days of thick creamy Soups and roasting Potatoes,Sweet Potatoes and Yams n the fire burning in the Fireplace of the Drawing Room!!!
The smell of cooking Sugar Cane Juice would hang in the air near the Sugar Cane Plantations----huge Iron Woks would be placed on white hot "Bhattis" or Stoves built into the ground to retain their heat.These would be fuelled by the flat chips of the Juice removed Sugar Canes--------it used to be a hive of activity.The best part was to join these farmers for Lunch----simple fare of Corn Bread,Mustard Greens,globs of fresh White Butter and the huge Punjabi Glasses of frothing creamy "Lassi"( Butter Milk)!!!This and many more similar memories even today leave me replete with satisfaction and happiness---I have lived those wonderful days----to my heart's content---so no regrets moving on.
After my marriage Vacations meant getting up in a more leisurely fashion---I'd be up at Dawn for getting everything organised for the morning Rush Hour-----by 8.30 a.m. the house would be empty----leaving me gasping for breath----hence an extra half hour in bed would work wonders!!! Luckily the School and Court Vacations always coincided---so we'd plan our Trips and book our Tickets----this way we travelled over most of the Indian Sub-Continent.The Indian Railways those days were a joy---we all loved the Food the Railways provided----it added a special spice to the Journey-----besides certain Stations on the Routes were famous for their Specialities----Baroda and Godhra for Masala Milk and Ice Creams,Mathura for it's fresh and soft Pedhas,Karnal for it's spicy Chholay Bhaturey,Agra for it's Petha------so many places---so many flavours----so so many beautiful memories----today I carry a treasure trove in my mind's eye!!!!!!
Today we lead a sedentary life---the day begins early---normally by 7a.m. then Tea,Yoga,Breakfast-----Sudhir leaves for Court by 10.30a.m. and my help arrives by 11 a.m.----cooking,getting the House organised---and then Lunch---finally SP---till about 4.30p.m. after which Yoga again on the Terrace,my evening "Adda" in the Compound wih my "Cronies",Dinner at 8p.m. sharp---and to bed by 9-9.30 p.m.----it's not a very heavy schedule as such---but still Vacation beckons!!!Vacations are still a laid back period for relaxing and destressing---unwinding your daily routine to a more leisurely pace---even if you don't venture out the daily rhythm changes!!!!
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