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excerpt from work in progress

"the last anglo-indians left standing.

 

these are some of my memories from summer in nagpur......

 

................................summer was holidays, doing nothing, doing everything. some 'holiday homework' - nothing onerous
summer is earthly delights. fruits. mmmm. mangoes, the taste, and smell of the myriad mango varieties.

paisley shaped alphonso mangoes are shaded pink gold flesh. this firm golden fruit grows in my home state of maharashtra.

 

kesar mangoes; large, green fading to yellow gold on the top knobby end, stacked high in pyramids. neelam mangoes; shaded red skin, plump and oval, almost round. another favourite are sucking mangoes. these are squeezed in the hands, round and round until the pulp is soft, pluck off the top knob and suck up the juice. when no more sucking possible rip the skin apart and seed sucked dry.

 

sweet, stick juice running down the chin; covering fingers and hands. the toddlers wound up with the juice covering their naked brown bodies. 

 

the only way to eat mangoes is to slice it up - two cheeks, one long narrow strip along the sides; and the most delicious part, the pulp covering the seed sucked dry.

 

then the small, hard green mangoes for pickling. chopped, marinated in hot spices under nana's supervisiou. soaked in oil and placed in large earthenware jars with wide mouths. the mouth of each jar is covered by a muslin square tied down with string. there are always two jars for the nex season, and two jars with the pickled mangoes for us to eat.

 

the pickling mango jars sit in a corner of the stairs going down to the side yard. and are swiveled on their bases every few hours. of course everybody got involved; the children, the grandchildren, cook, and chokra. those jars spun around all day until they were brought in for the night.

 

nothing like home made mango pickle. nana also made small, green chili pickles in vinegar, and lime pickle. mango is still my favourite.

 

my friend jd and i were tireless mango jar turners..........

 

watermelons. huge dark green melons, large enough for babies and toddlers to sit. chopped into slices, ruby red flesh, black seeds. nana would flick out the seeds before handing slices over to the little ones. sweet, sweet.

 

cantaloupes, huge and pinky grey tan skins. we called them mush melons. nana would chop them into halves, scoop out the pink-gold musky smelling flesh. chop, chop these into bite sized pieces. mix with crushed ice and serve in large stainless steel glasses. we would have this every afternoon after lunch and before rest time.

 

sugar cane, gunna - brought home from tuesday market in long canes. nathu, the chokra, would strip the outside husk and chop these into six inch bits, split them down the centre and hand these out to chew and gnaw. older children got longer sticks than the little ones.  

 

one of the daily vendors was the ice phruit man. also known as, the ice golla walla, literally the ice ball man. actually, no real fruit involved. he'd come trundling down the street children erupting from houses and yards. there were hugh sawdust covered blocks of ice from which he broke off chunks. these he would hold in a grubby rag, shaving the ice, using a shaving machine. probably some carpentry tool. he had a variety of bright jewel coloured syrups displayed in clear bottles. these excruciatingly sweet juices cme in red, green, orange and yellow. he squeezed handfuls of shaved ice onto a stick until there was a fairly large lump. onto which he dribbled the syrup of choice. we would stand around him, shoving and elbowing each other, hands out, "me next", "me next". 

 

this was pure bliss on a hot summer evening..................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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