Summer holidays

Summer is here. And so are the watermelons, mangoes, ads for prickly heat powders and soft drinks. As I lay in bed reading an e-book on my kindle, the warm afternoon light stroking the edges of my bed and the curtains dancing to the tunes of a high-speed fan, I find myself reminiscing about summers 15 years ago.

Summers meant long holidays. As kids, the day used to start with gathering all our friends in the neighborhood much against the protest of our exasperated mothers warning us against the health hazards of playing in the hot sun. I used to eagerly wait for someone to shout my name from the street so that I could run out in my bright-colored frock and join the fun lineup of our routine games- woodpecker, hide and seek, lock and key,  enactment of husband-wife-children(complete with tiny kitchen vessels and fights about inedible food cooked by the wife with a hungry toddler wailing in the background), etc.

The games were halted when lunch sirens(mothers screaming for their kids) were heard. Panting and sweating, we would drag ourselves home on our exhausted little knees. Short afternoon naps were forced on us. I distinctly remember the quiet afternoons when I would be lying in bed, listening to the rumble of the fan and the melodramatic music from a 90s movie playing on TV, interspersed with the occasional honking of vehicles and crying of babies in the neighborhood – the only worry on my little mind being whether I would wake up in time for our evening games.

The naps were followed by treats of Rasna or chilled lemonade. The ice-cream seller with his yellow cap and goofy jokes was the children’s favorite person . He used to lure children like a pied piper using a ‘ding-ding’ bell on his modified cycle attached with a cooler box.  The tiny tots used to throng him, a dozen hands raised in anticipation of orange sticks and ice cream in plastic balls.

 There used to be jubilation when grandpa walked in lugging a huge watermelon. My excited cousins and I used to sit around him in a circle and wait impatiently to gobble the juicy red pieces with a loud slurp. More often that not, this ended in a squabble attributed to our competition-‘fastest watermelon eater’.

On occasional days when my mother and aunt got bored of relentless gossip sessions, they tried their hands at making homemade kulfis and ice creams. The kids weren’t allowed near the kitchen for the whole day as there was impending danger of the mischievous bunch breaking the essence bottles and toppling over the ice cream powders. At the end of the long day’s wait, we would be served chilled flavored milkshake.

Another favorite pass-time was feeding the goats out on an evening stroll with leaves from the garden plants.  This was followed by a game of cards, carom or a cricket match on TV. The day would end with quiet dinners of piping hot dosas and flame red tomato chutney.

Gone are those days. We spend afternoons hooked to our xboxes and kindles now. The ice cream man is replaced by the fancy dessert Parlour. The lemonades are replaced by soft drinks. The goats are replaced by swarms of vehicles. A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I wrote this with a smile on my face. I miss the innocence and simplicity of those days. I miss summer vacations, the way I know it.


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