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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Summer Holidays

"Everybody has a summer holiday
Doing things they always wanted to"..... crooned Cliff Richard half a century ago.

And I couldnt agree more.....Summer Holidays or Goromer Chhuti were indeed the favourite and longest of all vacations during our growing up years. An almost two month long break from school, studies and schedule. Cousins coming over from different parts of the country. Lazy afternoons filled with games and gossip.
-Hide and seeks in the nooks and crannies of the attic and staircases, under the beds and behind the giant almirahs;
-climbing guava trees and scraping knees;
-listening to the radio in warm summer afternoons, all heads jostling for space right in front of the radio;
-recording our voices on the blank cassettes inserted into the coveted tape recorder;
-buying ice cream sticks from the ice-cream vendor who would take a break from his cart pushing right in front of our gate and call out "K..W...O....O...L....I...T...Y" repeatedly till we kids compelled our mothers to let us out and buy the orange or chocolate fudge sticks from him;
-sitting on the terrace oblivious to the blazing hot sun, gorging on the 'stolen' homemade mango/tamarind pickles, which had been put out on the terrace for the sun to give it a finishing touch;
-the Poila Boishaakh (Bengali New Years celebration on 14th/15th of April) celebrations and get-togethers....
Memories of summer holidays are full of fun, frolic and laughter. Days spent at cousins' or 'best' friends' places, family reunions and sometimes a family vacation.
Of course, the fights and squabbles, teasing and taunting, anger and making up were also there in all its glory...but that's what gave summer holidays its multihued tinge!
As I see my little AD growing up in a nuclear world so different from the one I grew up in, without her extended family to pamper and indulge her, I feel a trifle sad that she's missing out on the companionship and camaraderie with cousins and siblings that we took for granted. Her Summer Holidays too, are poles apart from our summer holidays.

In her world, routine is not abandoned for a month or two. The scheduled life goes on....The long and relaxed, fun-filled vacations are replaced by choc-a-block activity filled summer camps. Not camps in the true sense of the word, but planned, 'scientifically' chalked out programmes to keep kids busy in a host of creative lessons and activities. A continuation of her playschool sans the academics....I wonder whether they are half as much fun as the impromptu and myriad activities we indulged in during our prolonged vacations, eons ago....I hope so.

Times have changed. We parents are busy. And corporate jobs do not give us the luxury of long vacations. And living in a city with no family and equally busy friends as our social network, with cousins and extended families scattered all over the globe, summer holidays of yore have become an almost extinct phenomenon.
So the much advertised, exhorbitantly priced summer camps are not an option but more a necessity!

Last week as I went on a short trip to attend the last rites of my Mamu, AD met some of her cousins for the first time...Dadas (elder brother), didis (elder sister), bon and bhai (sister and brother). They played, they fought, they squabbled over a box of crayons or a teddy or just fought for the sake of fighting. They made up and played fight all over again.....
I was glad ... to give her a slice of life as it was when we were kids. To cherish the companionship, the unadulterated love, the complex rivalry, the bowing down to say sorry, to resume normalcy and let bygones be bygones...

I hope every year, if not a long leisurely one, at least a fun filled brief holiday with cousins is what I can gift my that she grows up with her own handycam stored memories of summer holidays in contrast to our album filled with sepia tinged snapshots.....

"We're all going on a summer holiday.
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday...."


naperville mom said...

I love the bengali way of saying things promise:) Garmi ki chutti is 'goromer ki chutti'. Wow! Reminds me of the mangoes we used to 'chuuus' in Kerala, yummy!

It's great that you're consciously providing opportunities for AD to interact with her cousins and get to know them better.:)

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

Great photos!! Really captures the mood!

HEy naperville mom! Its goromer chhuti; not goromer ki chhutti... sheesh!! :D

Kavi said...

It is wonderful to note that you are providing AD with opportunities to connect up.

The summer camps do not change anything for a kid. Except the setting i guess.

I used to enjoy the summer hols. Hols were you got tanned to bits. Ate like a pig. And lived life with abandon.

Can i have a summer vacation please ? Hmm !

Lovely post

SGD said...

@NM - As Roshni pointed out, it's GOROMER CHHUTI!!! ;))))
Oh yes....I forgot about the mangoes...the juice & the pulp, dripping down our elbows while we were too busy sucking the pulp to care about the mess!!!

@Roshni...added another collage (almost 3 decades old) of my summer hols...

@Kavi - thanks. Wish could turn the clock back and go back to school days....aaah the blissful, carefree summer hols of yesteryears!!
oh yes. ..wish

Vivek Patwardhan said...

Interesting to see how a mother thinks! Enjoyed your post.

Pradip Biswas said...

Summer holidays are changed now. Young couple along with their children rarely visit their relatives and preferably goes to resorts. It is very good that Momo met her brothers and sisters although it was a sad occa...I remmber my summer holidays at Ranchi where allour relatives used to meet and also in the Family Durgapuja. Sometimes also in the ancestral village house. I can not forget "Beler Pana" Red Tarmuz and badam Thandai the cool bath in the Well water or in the "Pokhar".

ugich konitari said...


Wonderful photos.Took me back 50 years ....and it was regular stuff, every summer holidays....

Took it so much for granted then. Now with the children grown up, life is one big academic year :-)

~nm said... brought around such nostalgic moments..lovely post

nsiyer said...

Your post brought nostalgic memories. Interesting, I too when I was young used to go to Kerala and all our cousins with families went on a long trip and what fun. Now, nuclear families with no time to stand and stare. Just like you said, twelve of us are going to Kerala in May and wow looking forward to the same.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Lovely post, took me back to those lazy, hazy crazy summer days of indolence and indulgence. Your daughter is surely going to thank you for being such a thoughtful mom.

SGD said...


@PB - Maybe I'm not young enough...because holidays at resorts are fine upto a point....I would anyday exchange that with spending precious moments with my loved ones..And yes laal tarmuj, fresh drinks, kaacha aam makha, aachar....aaah bliss...

@Ugich K - Thanks...yes we took so much for granted which are now professionally managed events! Summer camps were unheard of as there was so much to do with family & friends

@NM, @SS, @NSIyer-Nostalgia ...that's all we have. I feel sad sometimes that life these days has become so mechanical..

HR said...

I was not that lucky like the author.We were grown up in nuclear family and unfortunately deprived from the warmth of cousins and elders. However, the bygone days of our childhood were full with fun and frolic amongst friends and few relatives.We used to be in the happiest frame of mind in the last week before vacation in school. I clearly remember that we used to start our vacation days a little late. After a hurried breakfast we need to study a little under tutelage of Ma. It was followed by a break for listening radio program, lunch and finally a small nap.The football session will start sharp at 3 in the afternoon and continue till 6-30 in the evening. What a great moment we enjoyed!! During winter vacations our main sport was cricket followed by badminton in the evening. That was the quality of life we had in our childhood. There was no television at that time, no computer games, no sitting in front of the electronic boxes munching junks and so there no threat of childhood obesity and adding power to the eyes.
We also indulged ourselves in reading books and magazines before retiring to bed for a nice sleep full with nice dreams. Being a outright foodie I never failed to miss any opportunity to go out for food joint to appease my gastronomical fervor.
One more nice writing from author. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to jot down certain sweet memories. Keep it up...

SGD said...

@HR - Thanks for sharing your memories of holidays!! Kids those days were kids and not whizkids!
They were boisterous and active and not loners glued to TVs and computerscreens!

SSQuo said...

Firstly, this song is one of our favorites, we had it rewound a million times on our video cassette. Loved CF and the movie!

You captured summer holidays with cousins well, not completely similar but definitely the same foundation. We were 21 cousins of which at least 15 or so woudl get together at my Grandmas house. The cool thing was that Grandma has a huge place and right across the lawn was my Aunt (her daughter) and my Uncle was right below. So we had a blast running from house to house.

I am SO glad we had this time together because I have SO many memories to fall back on and some wonderful relationships with family just based on those times.

Yes, it is hard now since people are spread out and if we don't make the effort, then those holidays can very easily be a thing of the past.

PS: I was and still am addicted to raw mango with chilli powder and salt (have one sitting at home!), its going to be my weekend treat!..and tamarind and pickle of course ...and my mouth is watering at 10am on a Tuesday morning at work! Thanks much! :)

SGD said...

CF is my all time fav too...and Summer Holidays being one of the many songs of his so very close to my heart!!!

Oh...glimpses of your summer hols sound so so wonderful!! 15-20 cousins....WOW!! But just can imagine how crazy you guys must have driven your elders!! ha ha ha!!
You're making me drool at 1:00 in the night (or early morning)....mmmmm raw mango with black salt, chilli powder.....irresistble!!!

workhard said...

Those kids look like they are having one hell of a time.. reminds me of my days.. i love kids camps.. i volunteered once there.. just loved was actually for a painting camp.. and these kids were amazing...