Have you heard of this movement called Nude Cooking? No? It’s ok, don’t beat yourself up over it. I just invented it.
So in my head, Nude Cooking is this movement where women across the world take to cooking in the nude during a few months every year (March to June, to be precise), not as a form of protest or anything, but for the simple reason that it’s too freaking hot to wear clothes in the kitchen. Frustration due to any collateral damage like oil-splattering etc. will be duly taken out on the husbands.
Yes, you guessed it right. The heat in Chennai has finally gone to my head. My love for cooking is slowly going up in fumes, thanks to the heat and humidity. I don’t even have to switch the gas on sometimes. Even if I’m doing baking, I’m sweating buckets. So imagine the condition while making rotis.
I HATE SUMMER! Except for the mangoes. And you know what’s the worst part? It’s still only March. L It’s only going to get worse. I try not to step out of the house much during the day, venturing out only to go to the gym and dance class, and the occasional trips to the supermarket. And I carry my trusty John’s kuda with me everywhere. I still haven’t recovered completely from my Goa tan yet. My skin is not ready for a Chennai tan.
Summer used to be fun at one time, during school days. Because of summer vacations. Damn, I miss school, just for that. For me, summer vacation used to be at my late Acchamma’s (Acha’s mom) house in Thalasherry. Two months of lazing around, devouring mangoes by the dozen (from the lone mango tree in her garden, planted by my dad years ago. Till date, the best mangoes I’ve ever had), eating kallumakai (mussels. Damn, just thinking about it is making my mouth water), among other things. But Acchamma’s signature piece was her homemade grape wine. Sigh... prepared and bottled months in advance, it would be ready for serving by the time we arrived. She would take it out with a flourish that only one who has spent hours toiling in front of an old-fashioned wood-fire can feel. Acchamma lived a simple life all by herself in that old house. She was a fiercely independent woman. She had this tiny little box TV that had only the Doordarshan channels, and she was very protective about her TV. So she used to ration it out to me and Chech. Which was good in a way, because we learnt to spend summers without a television. That’s when we used to read the most. Ah, the endless summers spent in the company of books. Acha would fashion cricket bats and balls out of madal (what’s it called in English? The stem part of the coconut tree) and oala (leaf of the coconut tree). And then in the evenings, we would go to Acha’s school, which was just across the road. His old school, with the HUGE playground and the gulmohar trees.
Acchamma passed away in 2005 March. And along with her, she took our summer vacations. Sadly, I don’t even remember the last summer vacation I spent with her. Once Chechi finished school, it became difficult to match our holiday schedules. And then, as happens with all of us, we grew out of it. We preferred to spend our vacations in the city, with our friends, ‘hanging out’. Trading succulent mangoes for dry popcorn at the movie theatre; grandma-made grape wine for fanta orange at the shopping centre; kallumakai for pizzas and burgers; the rickety old wooden bench in Acchamma’s front verandah for plastic chairs at the shopping complex; bedtime stories for late night television. I wonder if my kids, and kids of the coming generation will have as fond memories of summer vacations as we had... I seriously doubt it. They will have great memories, sure. But not of the same kind. Not of the mangoes-from-the-lone-tree-in-the-garden-homemade-grape-wine-roasted-cashewnuts-fighting-to-watch-TV-stealing-milk-powder-from-her-cupboard-inventing-games-because-there-was-no-TV-plucking-flowers-for-the-puja-room kind...
How is the summer in the rest of the country? Please tell me it’s bad. Please let me get some sadistic pleasure out of it. Please please pretty please.