England is experiencing the best Summer this year. When in India I never appreciated sun, sunlight, bright day...took everything for granted. To appreciate sun and celebrate a sunny day one needs to witness the darkness and dullness brought by the wicked winters. A sunny day in England brings so much of cheer and with near to accurate weather predictions, everyone makes sure to make the fullest out of a 'bright sunny day'.
Today was one such beautiful day. I stepped out of the train station and to my left was a small square area with chairs as comfortable as shacks. As many as 30 such very comfortable chairs were arranged in that square which was covered with an artificial green lawn and chairs above it. Behind this sitting area are coffee bars, eateries. And to create a musical atmosphere a singer with his guitar a lodspeaker and music is in the air! People facing the sun, a cuppa and a book, some knitting, some chatting, some relaxing all with the music playing, echoing in background. I know Bryan Adams Summer 69 is brilliant but everyone has some unforgettable memories of Summer.
As a school going kid if ever asked about my favourite season then by default was 'Summer'. The three reasons were: Summer holidays, Mangoes and my birthday! Hard to find someone who isn't proud about his birth date, month and season. It is kiddish but dwells within us. Life was all sorted then as a kid. Holidays meant being at home, telivision, friends, fun, food, masti at outdoor games and late night chats with friends in porches on rota basis. I and my brother were lucky to have parents who were equally enthusiastic about taking us to various parts of India whether a religious trip or a touristic trip didn't matter, all that mattered was being together. Nothing fancy, extravagant and stylish. Our holidays were very simple but have etched long lasting memories. As a grown up now, holidays then were enjoyable because parents took the pain of planning, packing and organising. It was Aai who packed my stuff like I do for Aadhya! Summer holidays were the most awaited and many still love those mangolicious summers. It really didn't matter Alphonsos or any, mango meant mango..sweet or sour! Maharashtrian households indulged into 'Aam-ras' feast and as kids we absolutely waited for the first mangoes landing home from the market. I still remember Aai squeezing out the mango pulp and keeping aside tha seeds for us to relish..yummm! I bet we all at least of my generation and the previous licked the trickling drops of mango juice which ran while squeezing a mango and it was fun. There weren't spoons and knives but only mangoes and hands when a 'stone man' must have seen a mango hanging over the tree, so the easiest was squeeze and relish. Imagine Adam and Eve waiting for a knife to cut and eat that wisdom apple!!! Summer was 'the time' when cousins visited us and vice versa. I remember Aai planning pickles, jams and papads for the entire year. Aunties from neighbourhoods would join hands to get this summer work done and we as kids would take care of the papads kept for sun-drying, some already found their way in our stomachs before drying - perks! After dinner trips to an outlet which served freshly crushed sugarcane juice used to be fun. Those hobby classes, library memberships, swimming classes..new friends and something new to learn.
As kids, did we ever bother about sunscreen lotions to avoid the tan? I never did. Summer meant holidays and that meant freedom from every thing - school, homework, routine and every single thing which wanted us to be disciplined.
Has 'Summer' changed for me? Not a kid anymore now but I confess honestly of missing those days. Summer in England is all about dresses, fashion, barbeque, beaches, tan and rendezvous with friends. Definitely Summer of 80's and 90's will always be the most cherished and missed....but when in England be an English..:)