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Monsoon of Memories: In winter, all roads lead to the terrace

By Purva Grover Email By Purva Grover
February 2023
Monsoon of Memories: In winter, all roads lead to the terrace

Growing up, the best part of our winters was that Sundays were dedicated as “terrace” days. We’d spend our entire Sunday on our beloved chhath, the terrace. While only a few steps away, fifteen stairs to be exact, it was a world apart from our home in terms of expanse. The combination of a slight chill in the air along with the warmth of the blazing sun on cloudless winter days was quite inviting.

Don’t we all have a favorite corner in our homes, even a favorite room where we want to just snuggle? For us, the place where all our favorite things came together during winter was the terrace. It was homemade relaxation therapy, no-filter family time, supply of much-required Vitamin D, and the best sleep.

The terrace used to get spruced up a few weeks before the winter sun began to shine. We would take our places on either the wicker chairs or the manjaa, the old-fashioned rope cot, and from there on, time just stood still. The stereo would be brought out and the radio station selected based on old melodies on air. What would happen next would be a mix of many activities.

Someone would decide to spruce the plants on the roof, followed by the plucking of the ready-to-eat cherry tomatoes or herbs even as we would marvel at how delicious the chutney made from fresh pudina, the mint, from the home garden would taste. Peas would be shelled out, oranges shared, and radishes peeled to be eaten as they were—whole, not chopped—for that real winter flavor. The “chef” of the family would shake the martabaan, the jar, holding the winter pickles, scan them, and announce when they would be ready to be eaten.

A bowl of coconut oil, warm and melted in the sun by this time, would be passed around to anyone who wanted to attend to their dry scalp. Volunteers for champi were welcomed—after all, isn’t a head massage relished best when someone else does it for us?

It was on these relaxed Sundays that plans were made for family holidays, books were bookmarked, and, most importantly, the meal for next Sunday’s lunch was decided. It was always a close tie between sarson ka saag-makki ki roti and paranthas (stuffed only!). And as the former is best consumed when hot off the pan, the logistics of how best to arrange it on the terrace were discussed animatedly! Who would win? Mother, of course. Always, as she announced the menu for the next week, it included the mandatory large bowl of gajarela, the carrot halwa.

And while one often complained of the challenges of walking up and down to the terrace with all of the cutlery, the crockery, the food, the picnic blanket, and a whole lot of other “must haves,” one knew that a Sunday away from the terrace was just not a holiday at all.

At some point in all of this, we would begin to doze off using our shawls as eye masks. And if you’ve ever laid down on a manjaa under the sun on a winter afternoon, then you’d agree that there is no better sleep than the one under the wide blue sky of cool winter days.

And that’s how our Sundays would end, and almost immediately, the anticipation for the next Sunday siesta would kick in.

Purva Grover is an author, journalist, poet, playwright, and stage director. A postgraduate in mass communication and literature, she is the founder-editor of The Indian Trumpet, a digital magazine for Indian expats in the UAE. She can be reached at grover.purva@gmail.com. To comment on this article, please write to letters@khabar.com.

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