The Summers of India

Hot weather lke this is often called Indian summer, I have been thinking of the summers of my childhood, the real Indian summers.Hot to the point of burning you.

As am getting older I seem to think more and more of my early life.

Makes me wonder as to where have all those years have gone. I can see myself in a hot afternoon. The sun high and bright ,spreading fire. The wind would be hot and dry, as if it had just come out of a furnace.The wind will blow and the dust from the ground will rise in a spiral. Creating a kind of brown mist. and then it would settle on the trees and leaves, the veranda will have a fine reddish brown covering by the evening.The heat will almost shrivel your skin if you were out in it.

It was customary that my parents and especially my mother took a nap in the afternoon. I remember thare was a large ceilling “fan”. A large wooden frame suspended from the ceilling. It had thick fabric gathered to its underside.A long and thick rope would be attached to it which will be held by the “Pankah wallah,or the servant who constantly  tugged at it,so the movement created a sort of breeze. The windows will be covered by the blinds made of a special grass called “Khas”. This has the most refreshing and cooling fragrance, as soon as it gets water on, it releases the beautiful smell. The trick is to keep it saturated all the time. One servant will have this job. Every fifteen minutes or so he will bring a bucket of water and with a jug sprinkle water over it the blinds. But the heat was  so intense that it will dry in no time,sometime as soon as the watering was completed.

I used to have strict instructions to stay out of the sun and perferably lie down in the same room as my mother for the afternoon,or when the sun would be at its hottest. I hated lying still. I would lie there for about fifteen minutes or so and as soon as my mother dozed off, I will creep out of the room.
Outside it would be hot, but I never minded the heat. I would play with the servants children or climb the mango trees and pick the green and sour mangoes. Get them in the kitchen and eat them with salt. They used to be so sharp, but It didn’t matter,they were the forbidden fruit!
I would creep back in around 4pm ,when I knew it was time for my mother to wake up. By now the servants would have swept the veranda. Bent low, and with brooms made of sticks they would creat a cloud of dust. Before the gardener will come with his water hose and sprinkle the ground. By now the sun will be declining and the oven hot air will begin to cool down. Special wicker chairs and tables will be arranged on the now coldish veranda,and cool drinks, made with mango, blackcurrant and blueberries will be brought out in glass jugs with ice tinkling, and matching glasses.Freshly prepared summer fruits like melons and water melons, chilled in a wooden bucket,filled with ice will adorn the table.
By now father will be back from office too, mother would have changed into a fresh saree, and there will be bunches of Gardenia and Jasmine, threaded and left in a plate, emitting wonderful smell.

Evening will be spent eating drinking and chatting, friends will drop in, and we might even have the radio on in the background. As the night fell, the air will be full of parched earth and various blooms.

When we ate dinner, the servants will bring out our beds, make them with crisp linen,and I would lie on mine and look up to the pitch black sky and stars which looked as if they were so bright and so near.
And another summers day would have ended.

How about your childhood summers? Were they hot ? How about the trends in food and culture?

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