Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Writing about Mummy reminded me of Daddy---a veritable scamp!!He was like a little boy despite his position and age--always clowning around,playing pranks and generally livening up the atmosphere at home!!However he was a workaholic too---and because of that we missed out on his company during our---actually my, growing up years.As a child Daddy took me everywhere with him--Trekking into the Hills or Walks to the neighbouring Farms, both he and Jeanneret Uncle took me along---and a lot of my Knowledge is sourced from these Treks and Walks.However the speed of getting Chandigarh completed picked up and these occasions became few and far in between for around a period of 5-6 years till finally in January 1965 I reconnected with Daddy once more!!
Daddy had enjoyed Britain while studying Architecture at Christ Church College in Oxford---he loved the Food and the people there and it was there that he learnt to relish Beef and Pork to such an extent.It is his stories of huge Breakfasts at the Farms where he spent his Summers---all mouthwatering accounts of crisp,thick Bacon Rashers,Oxford Sausages,Kippers and Eggs served sunny side up that would literally make us drool--not forgetting the Sunday Roasts and Yorkshire Puddings!!The first thing I did on reaching London was to eat a plate of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding the day I reached the City!!After finishing his Studies and working there for a year he and his friend returned home via the post War Continent--and accounts of their travels there would literally have us in splits and hooting with laughter!!Though he very much loved Paris, he also loved the French countryside and his French was fluent enough to get by.On his travels both Ramesh Uncle and he stayed in picturesque little Pensiones and here learnt to survive on and cook a thick, tasty "Potage"--a bit like the old Fairy tale of the Soup Stone that he'd tell me as a toddler.Daddy's Potage too was made of as many Vegetables as one could find,Meat Bones,Onions,Potatoes,Aromatic Spices and would cook the entire day atop the Coal fires in Winters.In the evenings the Cook would strain it out and after removing the Bones pass the rest through a medium sized Sieve.It would then be seasoned with a little warm Milk ,Butter, Salt and Pepper and served in huge Brown Ceramic Bowls--coloured a glazed Brown on the outside and a deep Ivory on the inside.We had our Bowls and he had his--twice the size of ours!!After the Potage there would be Cheese Souffle before proceeding to the Pudding but what I remember most is the delicious Bread that we ate with the Potage--thick,crusty and home made!!
Daddy loved to make Wine as well.We had a profusion of Grape Vines growing on a Wire Lattice--gifted to us by Le Corbusier who had got the cuttings all the way from France!!The Lattice covered the entire roof of our huge Garage and this was one our favourite corners of our home--the thickly leaved Green arbour was the coolest spot to be in at the height of Summer!!.Each year Daddy would get Mummy to sew little Muslin Bags to cover the heavy bunches of Grapes that made our mouths water---we could eat even those unripe Grapes without a qualm!!He would then personally tie these bags over the Bunches with various types of knots that he knew.However he would forget that he taught all 3 of us to tie the self same secure knots too---so all we had to do was stealthily climb down on the Garage Roof,pick the ripening Grapes and polish them off speedily,retie the knots exactly the way they had been and scamper back to the Terrace and thence to our Bedrooms---looking like sweet little angelic girls!!Despite our best efforts quite a number of these Bunches survived--and these bunches would turn into delicious,Garnet coloured Wine.The Bunches would be gathered,the huge Tub brought out,Daddy would be in his swimming Trunks with his feet and ours well washed and clean--and the threshing would begin to the strains of all four of us lustily yelling out the song "Alloutte"!!There would be a great time for all jumping about till finally no Grapes remained uncrushed? actually totally pulverized!!The mixing with the other Ingredients and the period of Fermentation and later bottling and labelling the ready stuff was not part of our Agenda--but the final decanting and tasting of the Wine at Christmas very much was!!
For me, my childhood always has a very strong overlay of certain aspects that characterised that period of my Life---the deliciously smoky flavour of Twigs and Dry Leaves burning in the Twilight,the beautiful smoothness of Daddy's Wine on my tongue---the Coal Stoves cooking the delicious wholesome Food that we ate---it all somehow had a much better taste ,texture, aroma and flavour then!!All things were natural and organic and though the Manure stank we never wrinkled our noses at it---for it too was an intrinsic part of our surroundings.Even today I love to enjoy the Sunrises and Sunsets---I call it "my" time---for to me they speak of a Wonder and Magic our children and grandchildren are losing sight of in their mad rush to to fulfill their Goals in Life.I wish they'd take the time to stop and smell the Roses sometimes!!