Everything is big in Texas, including its summer. With temperature touching the dreadful100 degree Fahrenheit mark, it’s getting increasingly difficult to stay under the sunny umbrella. I am better rested inside my humble air-conditioned abode. With that thought in mind, I open my refrigerator to see what’s the coolest in there. Alas, there was no water, orange juice bottle was empty and coke cans were gone. Instead a fat, ripe lemon lay rolling in the basket. I look at it with repugnance, as if I was asking, “what can you do for me?”. I absolutely forgot that an amazing drink is just a squeeze away! The lemon spun its magic, and created the most refreshing drink. The nimbu paani tasted fabulous. It tasted like India!
That drink was enough to hit me hard, like a sledgehammer, all over those delicate spots that you either want to be left alone or keep guarded. I guess sometimes you need a better drink than wine to make you go nostalgic!
This heat wave certainly weakens my heart. Damn!
As I started sipping my nimbu paani, I thought about other typical local drinks that I used to relish when I was a young lassie in India. Amidst overwhelming thoughts of home and childhood, I started clearing the cobwebs and collecting pieces together. I knew in my mind that my list is going to be long.
A name came up right away. Jaljeera. Ah, that classic Indian lemonade! It’s been ages since I last had a sip of that tangy beverage. I remember when I was in school, the nukkad-wale dukans (local shops) would sell small pouches of Jaljeera powder, and all you had to do was mix it in water and drink up. Jaljeera was such a favorite that we would even lick it, just like that! Another summer cooler that I loved was Kokum Sherbet – a coastal favorite and a relatively newer drink. I first had it just about 4 years back while on a trip to Goa. And I just loved it. It’s red in color and sour-sweet in taste, with tons of health benefits. The sun, the sand and the gorgeous sherbet are all I remember from that Goan escapade.
From the scorching plains of the West, my mind drifts away to to awe-inspiring chilling hills of the North. While drinking tea is an integral part of Indian culture, there are, however, certain drinks that’s made and served only in specific regions, like Thandai from the North. Thandai is a powerhouse, packed with nuts and spices and is also a real thirst quencher. This milky deliciousness used to be the key player in many of my Holi celebrations.
Another drink, as sweet and equally tempting is most certainly, Bael Sherbet. That wistful, sunny drink, somehow reminds me of happy, family times on a typical Sunday afternoon – of sitting in the terrace with Baba, Ma and sis, and chit chatting while laundered clothes hung by the rope and flapped against the wind. I learned to make Bael Sherbet during my Kolkata days. “Forget the spoon, use your hands”, my friends would say when I tried smashing the fruit with a spoon. And indeed, the hand made all the difference. The heat of the palm and pressure of the fist brought out the best from the juicy fruit.
It’s 6:30 in the evening and as I’m down to the last few drops of my nimbu paani, rain starts pouring. So heavily, and so unexpectedly, as if the heaven burst open to pour out all its angst on us. I know what’ll happen next; a phone call from my husband and a humble request for onion pakoda and hot pipping tea.