My memories aka manjadis are mostly the ones from the days I spend along with my cousins at my Grandma’s place in Elathur, a small village in Calicut. Don’t know why the below ones are so distinctly alive in my mind. Sharing some of them with you …
-In my childhood days my real fun days starts when all the cousins get together for summer holidays at Ammamma’s house. The mornings start by brushing your teeth with “Colgate tooth powder” (which I use to personally love because it was sweet!) or with Umikari (used to love that too because our mouths would look like somebody just lit a fire inside and it and whole mouth was filled with black ashes) or the option was to pick up a Guava leaf. One of the things we loved doing was to climb on the gate of Ammmama’s house and we used to sway the gate to and fro .The momentum of the ride increased with every sway till one of our mom’s used to yell at us and bring us down. I think we used to imagine that the gate was a bus and all of us enjoying the busride.
-Then there was this little gal who used to sell homemade sip-ups bonda and parippuvada. We used to gather all the “chilllaraas” we get from every nook and corner of the house, gather the little pocket money we had and if we fall short would run to our mothers to lend us 50 ps to buy those. Icecreams were a luxury then so we used to be content with the sip-ups the little girl brought.
– One thing Ammamaa loved doing was to give us Oil baths. She used to smear kuzhambu on all of us kids till all of us looked like some shiny alien kids. The oil baths were never complete without washing our hair in Thaali . So as soon as we were done with the oil smearing the next action was to run to pluck the leaves and flowers of chembaruthi in order to make the thaali . Used to take turns to grind the leaves on the ammikkallu and this was a good way to spend the time needed for the oil to soak deep into our skins. Used to make so much, that we had so many bottles of it and the leftovers were stored in our fridge for later use. Of course we were generous so all the ladies in the family got a portion of our hard earned work!
-Now coming to food!! Being near to the coast side we used to get the best fish in Elathur. Today if you ask me, I would be more interested in eating the fish than admiring it in its lively form! In those days the fishermen used to bring home humungous crabs in buckets. When they open the lid and let the crabs out, they moved around in all directions. Some of us ran as further as we could and some of us loved to tease the crabs (of course not with our hands, don’t think we were that brave then) but with long sticks. I was so amused to see the crabs running around . Wonder if they knew that they would be in the curry chatty soon, or maybe they did and that’s why they were running as fast as they could…
-Ammama’s house had a lot of backyard space where there was this lovely jasmine plant that gave us flowers anytime of the year. Every evening we used to pluck the jasmine buds and Ammamma or aunty used to tie them with vaazhanaaru and all the gals used to keep them on our hair. Soon after this did we sit in the front kolaaayi to sing our sandya naamams and after that would play the game Pulinguru (tamarind seeds).
-Another place we loved to be was near the mango tree which was right above the small outhouse . Used to sneak out to the terrace to pluck mangoes and have it with chilli powder and salt.
We always would forget to get the accompaniments and one of us use to sneak right back to the kitchen to get them (who usually is the last one to reach the terrace) . The key, was to get them from the kitchen without the elders noticing because none of them approved of this!! Reason 1 – our tummies would go for a toss after eating this, and reason 2 – they thought it was dangerous to climb on the tree which was pretty high… Thankfully none of us have broken our bones in the act! Savoured every bite of those raw mangoes. I have water in my mouth just thinking about it…
-Another memory I have is from the night we heard Ammamma’s cow giving out a long cry and all of us ran to see what went wrong. To the kids’ astonishment we see the cow giving birth to a baby calf… All of the us waited near her with petromax lanterns for hours and hours… until the little wobbly one came out of the womb. It was kind of a ghastly sight! Next few days all of us kids were around the calf and the mother cow was so protective about its little one and wouldn’t let any of us near it.
These are few of my Manjadis that I treasure close to my heart. (sigh)