My memories of Indian summers, board games, and pyaoos.
Welcome to the Indian summers.
For the next three months, North India would be like a blazing hot pane set upon a gas stove. Some areas of the country will be as hot as 44 degrees Celsius.
For most of us though, business will be usual.
Life will still carry on.
Employees in Delhi will start for work at 8 am and reach their offices by 9 hoping to beat the heat. In the evenings, they will head off to their homes from 6 pm, again to avoid the merciless Sun and its side effects.
In the villages, farmers will begin their farm duty in the mornings and take their rest during the afternoons. Around noontime, their wives, daughters or sisters will fetch lunch which will often comprise some chapattis, cooked vegetables, and some curd.
For millions of Indian, curd keeps the body cool. I have been taking curd as part of my diet ever since I was a teenager. That habit has stuck with me and curd is now an essential part of my daily diet.
I still remember my summer holidays during my teenage years.For us, 44 degrees Celsius had no meaning. We would still go out and play in the searing heat.
We played cricket on our terrace and not for a second did we mind the searing temperatures all around us. The excitement of posting boundaries or felling wickets was so overpowering.
But our cricket soirees were a pain in the back for all our elders spending their afternoon siesta. Everytime the ball used to fall on the ground of the terrace, our elders would curse us, youngsters.
‘Why don’t these blokes simply lie down and sleep in these hot afternoons?,’ they used to wonder. But for us extreme heat simply did not exist. Our cricket games were the best air conditioners during those summer days.
When we weren’t playing cricket, then it was board games for us. These accompanied us in our summer vacation, in our summer trips to our grandmother’s place and also in the occasional outstation camping trips of our father.
The best places to play these board games were the train compartments and it was really difficult balancing those chess pieces while the train was chugging along.
As we grew older, we became introvert. For us, board games and cricket became less interesting. Books beckoned us and now it was the time to devour Alistair Mclean, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and a few others.
Devour was the word. We spent countless hours following the assassins and the detectives between the covers of our novels. Days turned into nights in a matter of hours for us. There was no better way to understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity than by reading crime novels and thrillers.
But our summer holidays also held out important lessons for us.
Those lessons were of kindness and empathy.
Whenever a poor person used to visit our granny’s house, she insisted on him being fed.You will be surprised at what I am saying but this is a fact.
The person was given a few grains of gram ( chana) along with some gur or jaggery. Have you seen jaggery or gur? Come with me to one of the nearby villages of Delhi and I will show how jaggery is extracted from sugarcane.
Gram and jaggery provided the visitor with much-needed energy. Summers indeed sap a lot of strength from people on the road.
Pyaoos or water dispensers also made our lives easier during summers. So on the way back from school, we used to stop at these pyaoos and have water. Free.
These pyaoos were manned by kind-hearted souls who never demanded money from thirsty people. For these good Samaritans, offering free water was realizing nirvana. But today, we don’t see these kind people and the pyaoos anymore. These have become rarities.
Do you have a similar story on summer holidays?
Please share with me.