Monday, February 20, 2012

Reliving Realities

Perhaps I was born at the right time or I was lucky enough to have stayed in 100% real places for most of my childhood holidays. Yes, my maternal grandparents stayed at the smallest of villages in North India, and I would look forward to spending my vacations there.

I was from Calcutta, a big city, with not much open spaces and though there are a lot many parks, they don't have trees with mangoes or litchis hanging on them!!

My grandparents lived in a sprawling if not very grand, house with a shed for cows and goats for milk. Some of my cousins and my sister sat around the milk giving cow and opened their mouths for the milkman who pulled at the udder and directed the flow towards them who relished the warm milk, much to my chagrin!! A coop full of cocks and hens for eggs and a back orchard for all kinds of trees from jackfruit, litchis, falsa, guava and not to forget the mango trees. Usually we were joined by other cousins for the vacations and we had a field time climbing on the trees of whichever fruit we wanted to eat and racing to the top to see who climbed the highest!
playing with the goat kid in the orchard.
During summer vacations the day started at the crack of dawn and the crowing of the cocks which seemed to go on crowing like an alarm bell refusing to stop. Grandpa wouldn't let us sleep and nudge all of us out of bed. We would straight away go into the orchard and start to play and climb and swing on branches which were low enough for us to sit. Sometimes we went beyond the orchard into the fields and trample on the sown soft earth (for which we would be admonished later on). I even ploughed the ground once and did the mud feel like velvety carpet? There is so much activity in the ploughing to sowing that each muscle is exercised and toned!

mango laden tree
I have to say that there are special ways to get to the highest ripe mango. Either risk your life and climb to the top without falling off or take this, a curved blade tied at the end of a long stick with which the mango is cut from its branch and it falls down. The third makes you quite a marksman, you aim at the mango and throw a stone to shake it off!! The mangoes ooze a fluid when it falls fresh from the tree, so we kept a bucketful of water and dropped those mangoes in it. When there was enough for everybody and the bucket was full, we would sit down to peel it and not with a knife but with a special peeler which was also 100% natural and made from a seashell. (wish I had one of them to show). The taste and smell of the mangoes is something I can never get even from the best alphonso mangoes!

There was a special guava tree. There was two things which made it special, first, it was our neighbours and secondly it had no seed!! Have you eaten a seedless guava? I have yet to buy one from the market. It was tasty as hell and we had to sneak and steal and run for our dear lives for the neighbour was a typical thief hater even if they were little children!!!

earthern stove
We only went back inside the house to eat our meals and get ready and be back in the orchard as soon as we finished. The house itself had small rooms and there was open space called aangan in the middle and a big kitchen beyond where women helpers came to assist in the cooking. Two or three of them would sit with a mill (hand grinder) to ground the wheat into flour. Curious that I was and wanting to try them all, I also tried my hands in grounding the wheat. Watching them change from grain to powder somehow seemed like magic to my young eyes. There was always two women grinding the spices together. And if you all think that the cooking was as easy as clicking a lighter on a gas stove then you have to get your imaginations to work again. There was an earthen kiln with 3 holes on top of different sizes. There was an opening in the front from where we stuffed the dried branches of fallen trees (this was yet again stored in a hut behind the house) which had to be fired with so much huffing and puffing till your lungs had all the exercises it needed in a day!! But it was fun and somehow the food cooked on it was the best and most delicious I have ever had in my entire life!!

There was no tap, only a hand pump. So, when I really had to rush to the toilet (and considering the amount of mangoes I ate, there was always a rush), pumping the water made the rush into a power rush and god helped if the only toilet was occupied. I had no option but to go to the fields and hide behind a tree and relieve myself!! Last year I had gone on a road trip with my kids there was a tyre puncture and we were not close to civilisation. I got the urge and I promptly went behind a tree with a bottle of mineral water and relieved myself. My kids were aghast!! Oh! they don't know what they have missed while growing up!
train just yonder the fields :)
Did I forget to mention the train tracks? Well, they were just beyond the fields and we laid 5 paise and 10 paise coins on the tracks and wait for the train to come. The train flattened the little aluminium coins and once I repeatedly put my 5 paise till it was absolutely flat as a blade and bigger than the old 20 paise. Interestingly we were quite small, with all of us not even teenagers, yet we were never stopped much and we could go and roam about the entire village. Playing hide and seek was never so much fun and I have even hidden inside the haystacks which is so perfect for this game. We had real mud to knead and make stuff out of it unlike the toxic clays of today! We made round balls and dried them in the sun and later used them as missiles to strike our cousins, which was so much fun!

 I forgot to say there was lots of insects and flies which came out in the dark and I especially couldn't no matter what sleep with them buzzing around me. So it came upon me to burn the dried cow dung which gave out thick smoke to ward the flies away.
rope bed

Could I have had a better relation with nature had I been to exotic locales each vacation? I think not, I cant say how much I miss those vacations. Although when I returned I was burnt black and my paternal uncles teased me for days on end that I lose my complexion whenever I come back from the village and that it was no fun to go. There is nobody who lives there and all maternal uncles have moved to cities and the house is almost beyond use. We cousins have plans to go back and relive some of our moments again with our kids to show them where we spent our vacations, but it hasn't materialised yet. Maybe some day I will.... I miss my village too much.

Pictures from here (mango tree), here (earthern stove), here (hand pump) and here (ropebed).

This post was written for The Kissan 100% real blogger contest at Indiblogger.


  1. I had somrthing more to my adventures. we will go in the morning with all the cows and goats to feed them in the jungle and play dab aboli ( a game played with a stick and climbing tree)
    We had a river ban ganga flowing and we used to swimm like fish all afternoon, use thin towel known as gamcha in lokal lingo as a net and catch fish on the bank of the river then clean them and make a bed of dry leaves put the fish in them and cover it with another layer and put fire to that. after a while clear the ash and pick out the best barbecued fish u can ever have .ooooh that taste can never be forgotten.
    you rekindled my childhood dear modern kids in cities can never have that experience. I would say if u can take ur little ones to willage and show then the real life.

  2. nice my childhood days are almost same....but we have pipe in our home :)

  3. love yr post sis perfect story of our childhood thanky

  4. Shakir>> wah wah, i wonder if we can get to climb up those tress and grab those fruits again, walk by the train tracks, place a coin on the tracks and watch it pressed and expanded as a train passed by, walk around to the nearby nala with fresh water and just sit quite listening to the birds twitter. Just a thought itself is so soothing, not sure who am i or what i do anymore. I feel i am at a juncture where i can't turn around nor go any it really too late, who do i blame this on? i was just following my insticnt to survive, trying to keep pace with changing times... was i wrong in that? Either way, i know what i have lost, or worse, i know i am not even making an effort to get it back, i am but another soul lost in chasing dreams, dreams which were never mine to begin with...

  5. mere desh ki dharti sona ugle ugle hire moti,
    mere desh ki dharti..