August 30, 2011

Summer holidays of yore


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!




 



14 comments:

seema said...

I think most Indians of our generation will agree to this narrative. We grew up in "doordarshan" era with lack of TV channels but abundance of ideas of making use of our holidays and spare time. Health and Safety was not an issue as common sense prevailed. No access to fatty burgers, pizzas, little access to fizzy drinks, and less chemicals in our system. Miss those simple times!

anna's musings said...

Thanks Seema. So true. The way our eating habits have evolved is scary. The other day someone told me to stop reading all this! Ignorance is true bliss for many. Even for those aware of all these, taking corrective action is an illusion.

Riya _ Reminiscence said...

Oh God...Chechhii such a pleasure reading it...Cant express my state of mind now...Thank you

Proma Chatterjee Nautiyal said...

This article is indeed full of refreshing good old times as well as the much required eye opener that brings us face to face with the artificial world we are living in today. I so agree with you when you talk about the "beautiful meadows neatly mowed" and it also reminds me of the life saviour, yummy ready to eats that are all stacked up in the kitchen shelves, I wonder now, "What was I thinking when I bought them?" :). The easy way of life is becoming a habit, with a cost attached! Beautifully written & thought provoking!

Minu said...

Thank you Proma for taking your time out to read this long post :) Easy way of life is becoming a habit- yes, Proma, that is applicable to most of us and I guess that's where all our perils start!

Anish Abraham said...

Minu.. wrote a long post but all got erased with the google sign-in and a last minute screen change. Any how.. very good writeup. Took me back several years to that wonderful childhood days.. Sometimes i think i din't enjoy the full out of those early ages.. Given an opportunity, i would want to travel back in time and be a kid and enjoy that peaceful time of my life..
thank you. Anish

anna's musings said...

Thanks so much Anish for writing in. I can imagine what sort of a childhood you would have had knowing the beautiful place from where you come...even for me, I feel I didn't make the most of it when it was all in front of me....as some one said- we have memories to go back to, but, there are folks who don't even have an inkling of what we are talking about.

Misty said...

dear Minu,
The article has taken me to my childhood also.Thanks to our environment, our mother's hard work and parent's trust in God,and number of sibling we have ... we all had a free,healthy, joyful childhood.I still remember climbing the trees savoring some wild fruits, which till now i haven't seen anywhere else.I am sad for that our kids are not getting the happiness, freedom and healthy food more than any thing the courage, experiences which we got...

thanks for the article and awaiting more ...

himanshu said...

I can totally relate Minu..Your post takes me back to the memory lane..when I with my brother and cousins used to go to my Nani's (Grandma's) village in the Himalayas for summer vacations.. Climbing the orange, plum and apricot trees.. venturing into the deep oak forest in search of our missing dog. We in fact entered the tiger's den to ensure if the leopard had eaten our dog :) watching exotic birds in the misty orchards and what not.. I so wish if we could relive those day..

anna's musings said...

A childhood in the Himalayas! I can only dream of it. You are lucky indeed, Himanshu. Climbing trees and entering the tiger's den! Very soon, we won't have any forest or tigers. So, where does the Q arise of giving our next generation at least an inkling of such experiences?

Anonymous said...

Hi Minu, though a little too late onto it, still it's as refreshing and insightful as it can get! Really commentable that from your memoirs, you could connect to the future, and with good pics inserted intelligently, with taste.

Minu Mathew said...

Thanks so much Anonymous..With just two more weeks to go for the Summer hols to kick in, I am already thinking about the good old days of the yore! Sigh! This year we are leaving for India to spend a month of summer vacation there and am determined to let my son enjoy as much as he could!

Anonymous said...

" 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."

Are you saying Thaali/hibiscus shampoo is bad for our bodies/environment?

-Azhakatha

Minu Mathew said...

Thank you for dropping by, Azhakatha. The above excerpt refers to the Shampoos and conditioners. Thaali/ hibiscus paste isn't harmful to the environment as far as I know.

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