i did not like diwali vacations - i love diwali and all the fun that we had, but it was always a little restrained simply because of the Diwali homework that we were required to do as well. Summers were a completely different story - of course the initial fortnight was a little worrisome because we awaited the results from the final examinations - but the rest of it was nothing but unadulterated fun.
I have made a list of things that we normally did every summer - till i was in school -
- visit to Pune - of course this was time when Nana used to cut mangoes and all of us kids would sit around him and eat them - i remember eating loads at one go and not worrying about putting on weight or any of the evil thoughts that go hand in hand with staying slim - and this was always accompanied by lots of hot chapattis with lots of toop (to this day i cant resist a hot poli with toop melting over it) and panha - whenever we were thirsty.
- swimming - first to get in the pool at around 4 PM in the evening and the last to get out at around 8.00 PM or so - 4 hours of non-stop fun - treasure hunts, cannon jumps, co-ordinated twists and turns, laps in the pool, just chatting with my friends at the water's edge - and then getting these wrinkly fingers and toes - and getting out and eating food enough to feed a small army
- loads of badminton and table tennis - usually in the mornings and some evenings that the pool was closed for cleaning - or just when the pool was too crowded for us regulars
- a really short hair cut - this was a ritual at the beginning and end of every summer - i don't remember ever getting into a summer without having a "boy-cut"
- climbing imli (tamarind) and mango trees and getting all the kaccha aam and imli - this was an activity confined to really hot days - can't believe the number of scrapes and bruises i have had from climbing trees - i still remember Shweta (one of my friends) who had the distinction of being the real monkey - because she could scale the tallest trees.
- Telling ghost stories in the park - i remember all of us friends used to gather in the park after walking around the colony and then assemble and tell each other the most scary and unbelievable ghost stories - and then there were some of those who took the pains to scare others on the short-cut home.
- Summer classes and library - just when you thought you were going nowhere with all the fun and getting too dark ( this was the time to work off the hard acquired tan)
- cleaning out the closets - i remember we waited for my cousin Shruti to arrive before we ever tackled this - not that she helped much - but she had a place of honour for the job.
- oh yes - i forget - the arrival of the cousins was in itself a big event - it meant some of the above activities were replaced by some others - like playing hide -n-seek at home, buying new books for the next year, covering books in brown paper and plastic sheets (till they came out with a plastic coated brown cover version), writing names on the labels (i did that for everyone around because of my perfect handwriting) and then my mum and aunts had these afternoon sessions sewing clothes for us - which were a lot of fun because i remember more "usavana"(roughly translates to getting the stitches out because they were in the wrong place to begin with) than actual stitching - an also the by-product of this was that all of us had either similar prints - different patterns or different prints - same pattern frocks.
- And last but not the least miscellaneous activities like star gazing at night, a weekend at Madh island, or a trip to some part of India with everyone, sleepovers, i also remember an infamous CCC - Creative Cooking Club - where the only creativity was inedible food, playing cards and some socially responsible act like planting trees in the colony.
Gosh looking back, there was so much packed in the summer holidays - they must have been the busiest times of our lives - yet was it that when we were young time passed slowly - or is it that as adults - we have more to do, i wonder? oh what fun it would be if we got to relive those summers over and over again - then again - maybe its time our children do - because looking at all this - it must have been a lot of work for our parents - finding us something to do all the time.