Pour some sugar on us

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There’s something about hot summer afternoons in Mumbai that take me back to my childhood in Calcutta… to summer holidays and balmy languorous afternoons. Calcutta was new to me as we had just moved in.

I was trying to cope with a level of heat than I’d never experienced before. 

I’d sit in the verandah and read to kill time.

Largely Enid Blyton books. Noddy, the Five Find Outers, etc

I never thought that she’d fall prey to the cancel culture one day. The term didn’t even exist in the early 80s. Or for many decades later. 

Power cuts were frequent. Load shedding as they were known. 

Once again something that was alien to my life till then. 

I’d take off my tee shirt and sit in my shorts during power cuts. 

Fanning myself furiously with a haath pakha. A hand-held fan  made with dried palm leaves. 

Trying to lose oneself in one’s book till the power came back. 

Rivulets of sweat pouring down one’s chubby self.

Summer afternoons were about squashes. Kissan, Druk, Dippy. 

Orange flavoured, which left your tongue orange at the end.

Or lemon, which did not. 

Mom would pour out a bit of squash from the bottle into a glass. Water from the fridge. And ice cubes. We had a fridge as my parents had brought ours from Iran while fleeing from Khomenei. Don’t ask me how!

I took over from there. Stirring the mix energetically, listening to the chimes of the spoon hitting the glass. 

till one saw the sugar crystals dissolve. 

Sugar was added everywhere. In squashes. In rose flavoured pink milk. In chocolate milk made with Bournvita or  Boost. Or malt flavoured milk with Horlicks, Viva or Maltova added to it. I don’t think anyone had milk ‘neat.’ 

You’d even find sugar crystals sprinkled on slices of watermelon and of buttered toast!

We are a generation that was brought up on sugar. And Enid Blyton.

The lost generation did you say?


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