A sealed pact, a day shared and the joy multiplied..
It was that time of the year again. A time to get together and have a blast! The cherry on the cake was that this year Ronav would be coming to my hometown with me. While we were at boarding school in Delhi, we had made a pact- I would visit his home for Raksha Bandhan and he would visit mine on Onam. We had secured the pact with a firm handshake. Now in college, we decided to stick to the pact and set off!
The house was just the same as I had last seen it. Huge and rambling and welcoming in the bright sunshine. My grandmother hobbled out to hug and welcome me. A hug that always exudes a warmth similar to that of sunshine. Feeling the familiar rustle of her cream and gold sari always has a calming effect on me. My mother appeared, looking very hassled. I knew she was thinking of the rasam bubbling away in the kitchen in the back of her mind, while she welcomed me and Ronav. The aroma wafting from the kitchen was slowly weaving its threads around me. I looked at Ronav and knew in that instant that he was thinking of exactly the same thing! As if she had read my thoughts, my mother told us-‘Lunch is ready, we can have it right away if you want….’. It was only 10 am and so with supreme effort we politely declined her offer, deciding to look around town a bit first. ‘Ok then you can have snacks.’ Trust mom to understand our appetites! We then munched on some banana fritters and jackfruit chips.
The Onam Pookolam adorned the main hall with the lamp standing majestically in the center of the room. That was my sister’s handiwork. We decided to wanderinto town while Ronav looked around and drank in the scenic beauty. I was glad that I could share the beauty of this place with my best friend. Whoever coined the phrase ‘God’s own country’ coined it right. The walk worked up an appetite and we came back home to find the table set for a proper Onam Sadhya (the magnificent feast that Keralites prepare and relish). We relished the sadhya which included-aviyal,olan,sambar ,kaalan, rasam, payasam, bananachips, papad and pickles, all served on a banana leaf. I knew Ronav appreciated the food, when he took out one second out while attacking the payasam, to catch my eye, nodded and burped his approval! Naturally, the heavy meal set us off into a deep slumber and we were gently awakened in the evening to the sound of anklets and faint music playing in the background. We dressed and went down and saw that my sister and her friends were dancing the famous kaikottukali. A popular dance in Kerala- danced in circle around lamps by women.
Ronav fished out his most prized possession- his DSLR and got busy clicking photos of the dance. Mothers by nature pamper kids and we both were subjected to the tasting of the most delicious chakka varatti (jack fruit halwa) and banana chips.
We then decided to make a trip with my father to the riverside to watch the boat races. If you have ever seen a boat race in Kerala, you will know exactly what I mean when I say that the boat races set your heart soaring and your pulse racing. The air is pent with cries and cheers of the supporters of different boats. I turned around and saw a very animated Ronav hooting and cheering along with the rest of the audience. They say that
when one experiences bliss, it shows in their eyes. The onlookers were all bright and shiny eyed, screaming their support out to the participants. My father then whisked us away to the local theatre to watch the Kathakali performance. A wave of memories flooded me when I recollected how my father used to carry me on his shoulder and introduce me to those Kathakali performers post their performance. How wonderful it would be if we could visit our childhood in a time capsule! Happiness multiplies when it is shared and that is exactly what happened to me-sharing my favourite experiences with my best friend Ronav!
White pumpkin -1/2 cup cut lengthwise 1 inch pieces
Red pumpkin-1/2 cup cut lengthwise 1 inch pieces
Beans-6-7 cut lengthwise 1 inch pieces
Suran-1/2 cup cut into lengthwise 1 inch pieces
Raw plantain-1-cut lengthwise into 1 inch pieces
Tamarind paste-1 tsp
Grated coconut-1 cup
Curd -3 tbsp
Curry leaves -6-7
Pressure cook the vegetables with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder for one whistle. Vegetables should be cooked but not mushy. Mix the tamarind paste with water and boil the vegetables in it for 1 minute. Add the coconut paste and mix well. Take care to keep stirring in low flame else the curd will split. Ensure the aviyal is mixed well. Check for salt. Season with curry leaves and coconut oil. Enjoy the aviyal!