Just as we were gearing up for spring, the days started to get hotter. It is just a phase, we said. Will be gone in a couple of days. Others agreed. A few looked up at the sky and mentioned it has been cloudy for a while. It will cool down as soon as the clouds cleared, they said.
Only, there were no clouds.
The sun only became angrier with days. Holi saw a scorching day ... the little children had to call it quits much before afternoon had set in.
The heat spread out in a haze and worsened as the day went by.
By ten o'clock in the morning, it is so hot these days that I fear to step out into the balcony to hang out clothes to dry.
Our little luxury of eating breakfast in the little balcony has been mercilessly taken away from us. Now all I can do is sip my cup of tea in the morning cool, water the plants, fill the brid bowls and bath and get inside as soon as I can.
I miss watching the trees all around in the morning sun .... shining in their new leaves. It is still spring for them and they will have to go through their normal changes as nature has directed them to. They cannot hurry and keep up with global warming.
This morning, as I sat in my swing with my cup of tea, I looked out as usual, the vision skimming the top of the hugest trees ans settled on the eucalyptus afar. There was an eagle sitting at the top, calling out in its high pitched whistle, that started from a low note and ended on a shrill high.
Two crows came by for a drink of water, but seeing me flew away.
I know they will wait on a nearby branch and be back as soon as I leave ... so I don't feel guilty.
And as I sat there, in the cool early morning breeze, I saw a rush of yellow pass by from my right, and fly on in my line of vision.
And I was back in Dadu's house, in an instant.
A little girl of around eight or nine, standing on the low sill of the welded wrought iron window frame of the huge French windows of the drawing room on the upper floor, clutching on to a few other to stop from falling, looking earnestly out, as if searching for something.
Her eyes scanned the scene outside .... the dark, deep pond ... with its chairs of red cement on the ghaat, gleaming in the strong sun, the Bok phool tree that bent over into the waters instead of standing up straight, the bamboo grove beyond it, the coconut grove on the left and the mango orchard on the right.
"Ora shob shomoye aam gaache thake. Ora khub shy tai lukiye thaake. Oder ke dekhte pawa khub lucky!"
That is what Didi had said once.
So she keeps her eyes on the mango trees, where they stay hidden as they are very shy ... as Didi had said. But could not sight even one.
It has been a long while and she could feel the heat from outside on her face. Soon the house helps would come by to shut all the windows before noon set in. She desparately wanted a glimpse of the bird before they came. Or she will have to wait for evening or the next day again.
And then, just as she was about to give up, she saw a splash of yellow dart by and disappear into the nearest mango tree.
It might come out again to fly to the other trees.
Her eyes lit up, she broke into a smile and turned around and ran through the door to the top of the stairs.
"Didi! Diidiiiii!!!", she shouted from there. "I saw it!! I saw the Holud Bosonto pakhi!! Come. quick!!"
She had to show it to Didi too.
She could not think of enjoying anything without sharing it with her only Didi, even if it meant the rest of the brood of cousins rushing in too.
If she were to be lucky by sighting the shy, evasive bird, Didi had to see it too. Didi had to be lucky too. After all her exams were around.
"Diiiidiiiiii", she cried desperately.
And Didi came.
Just as she always did whenever that little girl called.
But not now.
Not even when her favourite cousin, 'the not so little anymore' girl looks up at the sky and calls out "Didi!"
Do the people who turn into stars hear us call out to them?
Do they come down to us?
Do they give us a little pat of assurance and we still don't get to know it?
And healthy too.
Perfect for this scorching summer.
Lauki / Lau / Bottle gourd - 1 big sized, cut into small cubes
Curd - 2 cups
Besan / Bengal gram flour - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli [powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 pinch (use crushed compound form )
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Water - around 4 cups
Salt - to taste
How To :
Make a mix of the curd + besan + a little haldi powder + red chilli powder + salt + water.
It should be of runny consistency but not too diluted.
Heat the oil in a kadahi / deep wok.
Add hing + jeera.
Add the chopped lauki and stir fry on low heat for a while.
Add haldi + salt + red chilli powder.
Fry well, cover and cook till lauki is done.
Remove cover and add the dhaniya powder.
Now add the curd mix, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add chopped coriander leaves, switch off heat, cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.
This goes very well with both rice as well as rotis.
Stay cool with light, healthy food.
And enjoy summer!!
Ps: Here are a few more dishes made with the Lauki or Lau to keep you cool this summer.