Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rain in Summer

          Today we had the best rains after a long wait, bringing in the most awaited coolness, quenching the thirst of all living beings and non living things. The first smell of wet soil, the dripping of water from trees, the scampering of animals, birds and humans for shade were the immediate physical response I saw while staying in the safety of my portico. And my first response was - a steaming coffee in hand  on a comfortable seat where I could watch both flora and fauna of the area.
          For me the best experiences of life happened in the lap of the Western Ghats – Idukki district during rainy season. I have felt it is the best place to while away the rainy season and their coffee is the best and for me at that time, it was the most untouched place in the sense of no technology – with a battery operated radio, transportation – three buses a day, beauty – the craggy mountains, and Periyar flowing with the gurgling noise and above all very naive people in their outlook, in their dealings and in their generosity.
          So my cup of steaming hot coffee started when I used to visit my cousins in Idukki. They are mostly agrarian family (agriculture as its prime means of livelihood) and a bit of fishing too for family purpose. They would all be available in the evenings and if it rains, they sure are there. All the family members assemble in the kitchen around mother and other ladies who are busy preparing a load of food. In present standards, my whole family could use it for a week lavishly. And the talking and joking, all the young and the old near the traditional fire place they used for cooking (at that time they hadn’t any gas stove) and the amount of firewood and the smoke added to the warmth to the climate and the food were lavishly distributed like cooked tapioca or Jackfruit with fish from the Periyar or home reared chicken curry or chilly, small onion, salt paste and the Famous “steaming black coffee” without sugar. And each kid joined an elder, saving a plate and earning their warmth as it was very very cold. The old covered themselves with shawls as that is the only luxury they could afford to have when they moved around during rainy season as the temperature drops very quickly, but still the young didn’t use any of these and about me, I would be covered from head to toe with clothing or else I could become Lord Siva’s sister within seconds in that cold - blue. I don’t remember having eaten so much food in my lifetime. With all the family members together sharing from many common plates with no restrictions of any sort and “Eat As Much As You Want” was the policy, then why should I try to control my appetite? It was really the most tasty food I have ever eaten.
          But now this place has changed so drastically, the people have become more money oriented, more luxury loving and not much family gatherings and if there are gatherings, it would be in a hotel or a caterer would be there to save the day. But the climate is still there but with less cold and even during that time I try to revive the nostalgic memories of my childhood for my kids and other family members and friends whenever opportunity arrives, by doing the same cooking but with gas stove and instead of cooked tapioca and jacks, I opt for bajjis or chappatis and loads of talking and joking.
          Now I know, its not the traditional way of living but the unity of the family, the openness it created in the gathering and the sumptuous food (the main attraction), which fills both heart and mind was what mattered. Thus boldly fulfilling the saying “The best way to a man’s heart is through the stomach”. That’s not faaaaaaaaair. What about woman? As far as I know, they should be given equal opportunity in eating too, shouldn’t they? And included in the above proverb too, Right? Well I’ll be generous to men I’ll give the same opportunity to men for cooking because “All’s Fair during Rain in Summer”. Happy?
                    Bye for now and see you tomorrow.
Meena    

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