Summers are here. Today I was planning to make black chana and had asked the maid to soak it last night. As soon as I opened the lid in the morning the smell transported me back to good old Jharia.
Our hardware and paints stores was in the centre of town at the T junction where three roads met. One led to the market, the other to the vegetable and whole sale grain market and the third went towards the temple , station and Gujarati school.
On Diwali our Puja used to be the first to happen . It started at Godhuli bela ie when the cows come home between four thirty and five pm. All my grand father Uncles and cousins used to come for the Puja. The night before on Kali Puja the shop cleaning started. It was not just a shop it was a full one storeyed building with a godown. The upper floor had a staff room, room for the Gods, room for My GranPa , toilets etc. All walls were blue or green. The windows were painted bright green. The out side wall was white and the main door was green too.
Grand father was really a grand old man. We called him Bha. He was Dad s Tauji who had raised Dad when he lost his father at one and half years of age. All women in the family covered their head when he was around. He ate only nutritious food. I remember him having chvanprash and ghee in the mornings.He wore very smart bandhgalas.In winters he had some brilliant woolen scarves. In short he was a man of style and substance.He read some amazing books by great authors and philosophers.I remember the brown cloth covered books lining his living room cabinets.No one dare talk with a loud voice when he was around.He took my Dad and Uncle on long vacations . They used to drive around in cars with driver and all the kitchen stuff. He donated a lot to the temples where the money was used to build rooms in the name of his parents and brother.
On Diwali evening we all wore ghagra cholis and brothers in new kurta pajamas. Then Granny would take us to the shop and before that we took a small stopover at the photo studio and all six children got a group photo clicked. Then one with two boys and one of the four sisters. Standard pattern for so many years.
While the Puja was on , mom and Granny went to the temple to light diyas near all the Gods.When we could write we were given a red register to write Goddess Laxmi s name with red ink. You know the pen had to be dipped in the red ink and written with. they were sharp long pens with pointed nibs. After the arti, we all got lots of money from Bha, Uncles and Dad. They stood in a line and all staff went in a queue for blessings and were given gift money. No one took a holiday for diwali. Then was the cracker bursting time. By now the coloured zero watt bulbs were lit on the shop windows. Dad loved buying crackers so cartoons of them were opened and burst in the centre of the road while the passerbys watching the spectacle. Then we al went to the temple and then more cracker bursting at home. Next day was new year and we had to wake up early.
In summers , we put up a panshaala outside the shop. It was a small room created from bamboo sheets. New big earthen pots were bought. One man was hired for the four months to serve water to all walking on the roads in the hot . He did not get the afternoons off when the shop closed for siesta as it was the hottest then.All workers, passerbys, nearby vendors used to drink water from there. On fridays, black chana soaked overnite was given to all wanting to drink water.Earlier water was poured from an aluminium container directly on to the palms of the drinker.Later we had some coloured plastic glassed to serve the water.We as children used to go on holidays to serve water. No, there were no bisleris or restaurants the or twenty five paise a glass water. It was just plain cool water in the hot summers.