We were never holed up inside. I scratched my head to recollect if I ever watched TV during my Summer hols. There was absolutely no need for it then. TV was never the entertainer that it has turned out to be today. I don't even remember switching on the fan or light as I was never ever home when the sun was out and bright. Forget the air conditioner!
Climbing trees and eating fresh fruit was the norm. We jumped around so much that hunger was our constant companion. None of us took any vitamin or iron tablets. Nor were we taken to the Doctor ever for a lack of appetite!
Whenever a wind blew, and if our judgement told us that it was strong enough to shake the branches of the fruit laden Mango trees, we would hop, jump and skip to the nearest mango tree. There, most often, a feast awaited us. Sitting under that old Mango tree, spread out in our own clique's, we devoured the fresh mangoes. Washing the fruits with potassium permanganate before consumption? Worried about pesticides? Fungicides?
Under the Anjili (jungle jack fruit) tree, we found yet another fulfilling standing ground. After breakfast, (don't ever remember complaining about the food that was served. I only remember asking for more!) we found ourselves busy opening the Anjili Chakka, sitting on the black rocks juxtaposed against the lush green, and feasting on them endlessly until the Sun decided to shine right above our heads!
Those of us who got bored of the Anjili Chakka climbed onto the Kambili Naranga (Pomelo- a citrus fruit) tree which was in the vicinity of the Anjili Tree. Since the Kambili Naaranga tree was just a few terraces below, with its long branches spread out far and wide, we could just about manage to poke a few Kambili Naarangas with long poles while trying not to fall down into the terrace below.
I had my eyes set on a nice and yellow fruit in the terrace right below. Perched on the edge of the terrace above as I nudged myself to poke the exact point on the Kambili Naaranaga stem (the part closer to the fruit where it merges with the fruit!), I heard a loud 'thud' and I was pretty sure it wasn't the fruit. My little brother who was just a few years old then who was eagerly watching the drama tipped over and fell in to the terrace below! There were no emergency calls and no first aid even. A bunch of cousins got together and applied some 'communist pacha' (Eupatorium ) juice on his bruises. That's it. No crying for extra attention or no visits to the hospital. No fuss at all. Eh! ADHD? What is it?
Evenings by the side of the beautiful stream (a tributary of the famous Manimalayar) that was about 10 minutes of hopping, jumping and occasional walking and peeping into the neighbouring homes!
Fishing was the self-proclaimed hobby for some of us. Hours and hours swimming (by those of us who took pride in our innate ability to float on the water without getting submerged thanks to our unbelievably lean bodies) and bird gazing, just when the Sun was about to go down the horizon, Thanka, Ammachy's help would start her pleas to get us home.
The ' chemparathi/ kurunthotti thaali' episodes by the side of the stream was another highlight of those Summer evenings. ( I don't think I even dreamt of shampoos then! But years later, there was a point in time when I thought they were the be all and end all of good hair. It took many years for me to realize the harm they do to our bodies and our environment. They can even cause cancer. Many Shampoos contain Carcinogens! And imagine the harm it does to the environment as well) I was shocked when I read the 'Carcinogens in your bathroom' article. The cooling effect of the 'kurunthotti thaali' continues to refresh my memory pool.
As my seven year old's Summer holidays come to an end, I sigh with relief that he will be engaged at School till I finish my evening cup of tea. But, more than the intermittent relief, I am concerned about the quality of life that I offer him. There is really no comparison with the lessons of life that I learnt from the horse's mouth to how he learns today.
Why should I worry when my children find happiness playing on the lawn? I recently read about Monsanto's popular weedkiller (now sold by many other companies) which is proven to be carcinogenic and causing birth defects.Long list of perils in fact. So, whenever I see beautiful meadows neatly mowed and maintained with no trace of weeds, I realize its the magic created by the dangerous and toxic weedkillers.
From the processed (read poisoned) snack industry to the toxic weed killers, Summer holidays have been reduced to more inaction and ill-health. Sigh!