Memories come back during this festive season.
I grew up in an extended family in Calcutta, with fifteen or twenty people sharing three rooms and a common kitchen. We didn’t complain. We were all very happy. That was our life: not affluent, but very happy.
However, growing up together with cousins, aunts and uncles, my parents and I did not have a lot of quality time to the three of us. So my father, who was always big on eating healthy, made a yearly plan. He took us to a small, then-empty hill station called Rajgir, in the nearby state of Bihar. Rajgir, by the way, is the place where they have relics of the world’s most ancient university called Nalanda. Rajgir was full of fresh air with plenty of oxygen, and tons of healthy food. My parents and I would be away from the city hustle and bustle for nearly two months, in the months of December and January.
I would look forward to this annual trip, with excitement. In Rajgir, father would rent a small house, and mother would
immediately set up a makeshift kitchen with kerosene stove she brought from Calcutta. Local villagers, now well known to us through our annual visits, would bring pure milk, fresh vegetables, and live fish.
Early in the morning, father and I would go out for a long walk. At least, father would routinely do it. Returning home, we would eat breakfast just made by mother: Indian hand-made bread, a spicy cauliflower curry, and a glass of milk.
Then, she would start preparing the lunch for all three of us. Sometimes, a fellow traveling family would join.
I still remember how my mom used to buy the Ghee (clarified butter) called “Bhoinso ka ghee” which means ghee from buffalo
milk. Just like perfume tasting, she would put one drop of it on her fist, spread it with one finger, and check the aroma.
We cooked exquisite preparations of organic produce. Fresh, organic produce with no chemicals ever used.
Those memories still haunt me…