I am a person with a very low threshold to bearing the heat of the sun. So, it’s needless to say how much I dreaded the Indian tropical summer every year. But since the last year, I don’t know what has come over me, I love the Indian summer and have even started romanticizing it.
I've realized that as long as you keep yourself hydrated and stay in the shade when the sun is right overhead, it’s totally possible to love summer. In fact, this summer, I have been braving the heat to go to the Pune market almost every week, and just take in the sights, colours and the beauty in the chaos. Call me crazy! Summer brings along a burst of colours, varieties of fruit and a spread of food like none other.
Let me begin with the visual treats that Nature offers us to mitigate the summer heat. Roads in cities are lined with benign Gulmohar trees offering shade and infusing energy by way of colours to commuters. Gulmohar blooms in red, yellow and blue too. You must have surely seen these.
|The Red Gulmohar. Picture taken from here.|
|Peela Gulmohar. Picture taken from here.|
|Neela Gulmohar. Picture taken from here.|
Not only roads, even housing societies have gulmohar trees. In fact as I type this, I am smiling back at the gulmohar tee in full bloom, which is almost hanging into my balcony. I don’t even have to travel. Beauty is all around me.
|The gorgeous gulmohar saying Hi to me from my balcony.|
There are many other trees too which flaunt their colours and blooms, the names of which I may not know. But there’s one, the Indian Laburnum, which is sure to warm any heart with its yellows. I remember walking down a lane in Pune lined with these in full bloom, and I was in paradise for some time at least.
|Indian Laburnum. Picture taken from here.|
Some of my favourite fruits grow only during summer, because that is the kind of temperature required for them to ripen well. I saw this cart full of indigenous Indian summer fruits. I don’t know their English names but have eaten them all and they are delectable, each with their unique taste and nutrients to nourish the body for the summer season.
|A colourful cart of indigenous summer fruits I saw in Pune. The white round ones are ice apples and taste like tender coconut (tadgola), the bright yellow ones are star fruits.|
|Such a happy riot of colours.|
Who doesn't love mangoes? India is blessed with a hundred varieties of mangoes thanks to its soil and climate and yes the summer! Some other fruits available only during summer are the jackfruit and the jamun, both of which I eat in plentiful.
|Varieties of mangoes. Picture taken from here.|
|The black ones are jamun, rich in anti-oxidants.|
|Avakkai or the mango pickle. Picture taken from Jeyashri's Kitchen.|
|The jaw dropping varieties of red chillies in Lalbaug, Mumbai.|
|A shop dedicated for grinding spices, in Lalbaug, Mumbai.|
Talking of food, there are preparations that make me nostalgic like the chakka varatti or jackfruit jam and chakka payasam, a pudding made of ripe jackfruit and coconut milk.
There are also a variety of beverages to beat the summer
heat and Nature in her infinite intelligence provides fruits and vegetables in
a particular season that provide nutrients and nourishment required for that
season. Take the Kokum for example. Its fruit is made into a refreshing summer
drink which keeps the body cool and the digestive system working fine.
In some places
in India people drink copious amounts of
buttermilk and lemonade to keep themselves hydrated. How can I forget the aam
panna, a beverage made with raw mangoes and slightly spiced? It’s an appetizing
drink which balances the salt and sugar levels in the body which are lost dues
to perspiration and what a wonderful way to keep the body cool.
On my recent visit to Uttarakhand, I was delighted to taste
the juice of the rhododendron flower, which grows only in high altitudes.
Locals say that the juice keeps the body cool in the Himalayan summer. I bought
a litre of it back home to savour and share with family and friends.
Other childhood memories I have of summer are my grandmother
making papads at home and drying them on the terrace. They are consumed
during the monsoon when fresh vegetables are scarce.
|The lip smacking chakka varatti or jackfruit jam. Picture taken from Palakkad Chamayal.|
|The delectable chakka payasam or jackfruit pudding or kheer. Picture taken from Palakkad Chamayal.|
|A refreshing glass of Kokum sharbat. Picture taken from Myjhola|
|The copious quantities of buttermilk that was served in Kutch.|
|Aam panna made with raw mangoes. Picture taken from Chefinyou.|
|The rhododendron juice.|
|Women drying Pappads. Picture taken from Economic Times.|
If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may subscribe to new posts updates via email. Enter your email id in the 'Follow by email' box on the right hand side panel.
Also follow my posts on Facebook.