Nostalgia of Summer Holidays

April 21, 2010

Come April and children have grandiose plans for their summer holidays.  Having overcome the burden of examination it is time to relax and enjoy indulging in their favourite pass time but within days of getting holidays they get bored.  “Getting bored” is the   new buzzword among young urban children these days as they find it difficult to productively use the time on hand.  Many parents have found a convenient way of putting the smaller children to summer camps   to keep the children ‘engaged’.  For some even summer camps have become mundane leading to boredom again.  So the best children do is go for dance, drawing, music and art classes and spend the rest of the time watching television or movies. 

The predicament of the present day children often sends my memory back to the days when I was a student.   Those were the carefree days when children especially those from the rural background were not burdened as far as education is concerned unlike today’s children who never get a respite from academic related activity.  Those days I looked forward to the holidays and the ‘boredom’ factor never bothered me or cropped up in my mind.  On the contrary holidays kept me busy with countless tasks, giving me an opportunity to know and understand the intricacies and hardships of life, to get a glimpse of the rural and rustic life, to know nature, her rustic beauty and the surprises she offered and all other aspects which have helped me to face the challenges of life in a better way.   In the four years of my hostel life I looked forward to these holidays with an effervescent urgency.

Those good old Days

Compared to the good old days and the fun I had I really pity today’s city bread children who despite boasting all that has got to do with technology and gadgets namely, television,  computer games, video, mobile phones, play stations or ipods, watching latest movies and shopping in the best of the malls.   Of course we were a large brood of children and together we made the loudest of noise in the surrounding with no neighbor to howl around, which added to our fun element.   Apart from the normal fights we children had it was the work-filed yet joyful and quieting atmosphere that prevailed during our growing years of summer holidays.

April and May months are the time when nature is in her bountiful best providing seasonal fruits like cashews, varieties of mangoes, jackfruits, guavas, jamuns,  gooseberries etc. Along with the work of picking cashews  or  collecting wood or gathering leaves to stockpile for the rainy season there was the fun of eating fresh mangoes plucked directly from the tree eating with the bare hand  and licking the juice of the luscious  mangoes that drips from the sweaty arm as we ate.   Spotting a ripe mango with the right combination of colours to give it that tempting look, was a knack we mastered and in the absence of a stick the stones always came in handy. 

Nature and her Bounty

It was no easy task to pick cashews covering a vast compound in the scorching sun.    The sheer fun of shaking the branches of cashew or mango trees filled with fruits and seeing the fruits fall in plenty was one of our favourite tasks.  Removing a cashew from the top most branch of the huge cashew tree was accomplished easily.   When it comes to guavas we did not spare even the unripe ones in our pursuit to get our hands on the fruits.   Gooseberry trees were not very commonly available but they did not deter us from going in search of the tree a few kms away from home.  The sheer size of the tree was a major impediment to many others and that is why the berries were still there. But we had our daily brush with nature observing every tree, every bush or new plant that came up in the vast expanse of the farm. 

Jackfruit was the king of the fruits for me mainly because of its size, smell and the tasty yellow fruit decked within the hard exterior.  The softer variety enabled my younger brother to gulp the entire one sitting on the tree all alone and often we envied him.  The softer variety did not require a knife and it did not have the sticky gum making the job much easier.  Cooking and drying jackfruit seeds for the rainy season was also part of our job and was carried out with full gusto.  One had to prepare oneself and others to face the smelly silent crackers and gases that emanated from the rear end once the consumption of the same started with the right earnestness. 

Reliving old memories

As the wave of nostalgia grips me I try to recall the good old days and the fun element that was an essential part of our growing up.  Now such humungous mango or cashew trees have disappeared making way for the shorter ones.  Other fruits like guavas, jamuns and gooseberries are available in the market throughout the year and the craving has disappeared.   There are plenty of eatables available in the shops all through out the year and one does not have to worry about stockpiling eatables for rainy season.

So when my children broach the subject of getting bored I feel lugubrious at the thought of they missing the rustic lifestyle, a close peep into the nature and the myriad surprises nature has in store for those who dare to explore.  Forget about getting bored we never found time to rest due to the workload and the myriad activities/work we children did during the holidays.  I miss the quietude of the village life, the vivifying air from the fields, the vast verdure, the blithe atmosphere, the scent of the flowers and the fruits emanating from the surrounding, the chirping of birds, barking of dogs, the cries of the animals and the stillness of the night life.  That experience is one of the most unforgettable facets of my life which I would love to relive.  

Florine Roche - Most Recent Articles : 

by Florine Roche - Daijiworld Media Network
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Comment on this article

  • Dobin Fernandes, Kemmannu/Udupi

    Mon, Apr 26 2010

    Good Article...took me back to my childhood days...

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore - U.S.A.

    Thu, Apr 22 2010

    I have carefully read and digested the thought provoking article - sharing of views by Florine and for a moment I reminisced my own school days and the summer vacations of the twenties and thirties when I was still school boy. I imagined my friends and me taking long walks to to pool in Kulshekar for a swim. The water was not that clean and there was no question of filtration but all of us enjoyed the fun.

    On our return despite the fact that we used to be tired walking the distance, we would venture into climbing trees and shaking the branches for cashew fruit which I was told even then was full of iron content. Then some of the friends indulged in the game of shooting birds with hand made contraptions called donu. Back home we welcomed the breakfast some times with bread - butter and eggs .... some times cunjy and pickle. When I was a little older I embarked on something more exciting. Even though not licensed I would borrow a muzzle loader gun and go shooting with friends of very pleasant memory. Once I recall having cycled as far as Faringpet. We were so famished that we went into The Monastery of Capuchin Fathers and asked for water. Guess what - We were treated royally by The Friars with biscuits, cake and tea.

    Gone are those days - gone are my friends who I used to spend time . quarrel and make friends again. Those were innocent days with fine youngsters innocent and good.

    Thank you Florine for reminding me of my school days.

    Joe Gonsalves

  • Rakesh Dsouza, Mangalore, Dubai

    Thu, Apr 22 2010

    A nice article on a right time to take us to our childhood missing a lot...

  • Vincent Kairanna, Udupi/Singapore

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    You have said it all, your article brings back memories especially the cashews & jackfruits. Some areas in Udupi, you can still visit these sites & readers who are interested in experiencing the true nature during the hoildays this summer may visit this site for more details:

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    dear Florine, you said it all. "Missing of village life" and indeed, village life is most enjoyable and comforting in comparison to modern commercial life.
    The reality is people left village life and still leaving now for city life to make a living.
    I still like village atmospehere instead of the hustle and bustle of modern day living which baically has no meaning at all if one thinks clearly.
    One cannot trade natural life and nature to anything else.

  • John Stephen Roche, SVD, Fajir, Mexico

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    The other specialities of these months are the crowded buses, family gatherings, marriages, ordinations, in the villages collecting the firewood, leaves for the cowshed, preparing mango pickle, above all May month dedicated to Mary and the hymn that is sung in all the Catholic families.

  • Agnello, Mangalore/Muscat

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    How vey green was our valley those days Florine.I feel guilty for my children that I cannot relive those summer vacations.We used to stay in Mangalore . During summer vacations we used to go and stay in my Aunt's place in Tonse which was proper village, with no roads, no electicity but have a gala time.It was times of harvesting rice, chillies, sweet potatoes, sugarcane etc.We used to go fishing called 'light' using petromax gas lights. Catch crabs during daytime with special 'Y' shaped nets.Swim in the back waters.Make paperboats to float them around in ponds.Adventure out into the dark to get scared of ghosts.Feast on various fruits from the trees.The fresh early morning toddy was yummy and so was my Aunts wonderful cooking.
    Nostalgic, Sigh..

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    Florine, Thanks for taking me back to those summer days when more time was spent on the tree branches than on the ground. I remember having testing each and every mango for softness before plucking them. Those days are too nostalgic - no doubt about that.

    I pity today's children's life and vacations. Their time is too technology oriented.

  • Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney Australia

    Wed, Apr 21 2010

    Very interesting article by Florine Roche - brought back so many memories of my own childhood and upbringing on the family farm. Like Florine, I too had (and infact, still have) full of nostalgia and eagerness to get back home during my School/College holidays and vacations and get involved in all those activities listed, though in my case, in addition, involved a lot of hard work and physical toil on the farm, which was not so pleasant, at times. Neverthless, my favourite hobbies during the leisure hours included fishing in the nearby ponds and streams, swimming in the reservoirs, sitting pretty and comfortable inside my home portico and watching the heavy onset of monsoon rains and the consequent floods in the streams ran opposite, and last but not least, fending and looking after the farm animals and cattles, which was a real treat indeed!. Fruit picking, specially, the cashews, mangoes and jack fruits, was real fun and enjoyable as well. To be frank, I don`t think the present generation can really understand such a way of life, and as a matter of fact, they will be least interested in. Most of them will always look for short cuts and easier way of life. It will be a good idea, however, that the Educational Institutions consider arranging with the large Farming families in remote areas work experience for their senior students, in groups, during holidays, which will be quite valuable in their later years. I believe some Colleges are already conducting such activities.

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