Summers, especially if you are a kid in India, should hold so much of your memories as it does. Its the hottest time of the year, and for many parts of the country, its just basically the same as the rest [My brother in Chennai would agree]. And yet, these months that come after the winter chill has vanished, and before the monsoon decides to wash away this land, somehow, manages to hold each of our imagination. It plants itself in our memories forever, refusing to let go. And I guess this time, the heat has got to my head. I can’t see any other reason why I would decide to write this post. Except this
post that brought back old memories..
*** I think this is going to be a long post. Leave now, or grab your glass of chhass, sit back, and enjoy ***
Summers, according to me, can be classified in many ways, some of which I display below. 150 possible combinations I see.
Now, of course I mention these because I have lived through all these. And until I made this table, it never struck me how versatile life has been.
I grew up in the state of north eastern state Tripura. I lived in three of its eight districts, and have traveled to all but one. And the thing about summers there was it was always hot & humid. Sticky, actually.
I would spend a few bored days at home every summer during the summer vacation, before we would get out of the house and travel somewhere, anywhere. Thanks to the LTCs that dad would be eligible for, every 3-4 years we would do a mega trip. The other years, we would just land up in Assam with my grandparents. So, when not bored during summers at home, I would be out travelling through India, or getting bored in a different location.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, with board exams in sight, we shifted to Modified Gujarat. In the middle of the summer, no less. The Oh So Hated humidity vanished magically from the air. And I realized soon how much I missed it. The heat was excruciatingly painful to bear, and my usual ways of coping would no longer help. When I was in Tripura, I used to spend the afternoons idling around a open window, with a book. The window would, now and again, let in a whiff of wind. And that would bring immense sense of comfort, even if there was a long powercut. In Gujarat, this didn’t work anymore. The air that would travel into the room was capable of drying out your skin with such quickness that you would feel short of breath very quickly. And if you closed the windows and hope for liberation, you would be stuck in a furnace. The solution, the aforementioned chhass, and other myriad drinks concocted out of mangoes and what not. It kept you hyderated, in a constant battle against the Sun and the dry wind.
Don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted. A new addition happened to my life while I enjoyed these summer days. The old, angular, TVS Scooty. Red. With a stepney. This was my ride, zipping through town, to school, tuitions, … ya that’s all. It brought a sense of freedom, an end to boredom, on those long summer days. Though I would still not dare to venture out during the midday, the evenings at least were made artificially Kooler.. And of course, there were the breaks, to Mount Abu, the closest hill station, and then to Himachal, way cooler, of course.
After this, of course life moved on. Gujarat phase got over, and a new summer dawned on me. But that’s a different story. At another time.
The unforgettable things out of those old summers:
- Rains in the hills, rolling in from far away, in the middle of the summer season. You could hear the thundering herd roll in from the horizon, engulfing you suddenly and ending quickly, leaving you thirsty for more.
- The thunderstorm of the evenings, with a rich buildup. The wind would stop, the clouds spiral up in rage, the lightning stride across the skies, and then it would open up and go on for a good couple of hours, at the end of which we would all feel cooler and better.
- The plane rides and train rides that would take me to exotic destinations like Puri, Goa, Haridwar, Gangtok, Shillong, and other locations that would fill my memories and fuel my imaginations. Always loved that part of life. I guess that’t why I try to get out and travel as frequently as I can.
- The books, oh yes the books. The Bookfair would fill my coffers each year, and summer would be the time to go over them again and again. Also, there would be the language books from other schools. Oh yes, I used to read up the english books from other schools and other classes. My little pass-time.
- The cooling agents- juices, coconut water, chhass, all came later in life. In the beginning, there was the banned pepsi, and the malai icecream from the street vendor.