Somewhere down the years life evolves and days go by, we grow up, actually we just age. If you stayed in Belgaum you will miss the days that went by, dearly.
The memories of childhood create a nostalgia that you cannot overcome. We grew up in Nanawadi, Tilakwadi and Camp, the haunting grounds of the British ghosts.
To us every season had its own joys. The fun filled year and not the academic year started in March, with the exam winds, small tornadoes which heralded the exams to come. It was not the exams that we looked forward to, exams at that time was a formality to finish for the vacations.
The exams were not all that much tension too, plus there were plenty of hawkers with karwandas, tamarind jigli and jambhul to ease the pressure. My personal favorite was the raw cut mangoes which made my exams easy to appear.
Chicken pox, typhoid, viral etc made their occasional appearances in friends during this period. Somehow exams were over in no time, we actually had two exams a day and no holidays in between, I wonder what today’s kids would do with that format.
Once the small tornadoes appeared, parents would plan vacations, but wait it was not foreign locations or themes, it was usually a grandmas home or mama’s town. A place around two hundred km yet visited only once a year and there would be so much excitement, sweets, pickles and all the packing.
We would however be busy making cricket balls of some weird fruits we called cork balls, God knows what those shengas were. Somehow the grandmas place seemed like the best destination and yes it used to relax the moms so much for the next academic year.
Soon exams would be over and there would be the last ritual football match before we went home for two full months, by this time there would be occasional showers and it was considered offensive not to get wet, although it would lead to the inevitable fever and cold , but that was not a big deal.
Those who lived in camp and Nanawadi would then go through the annual mango crusade, stealing mangoes and tamarind made us feel like pirates and getting caught and reported to parents was heroic. Desai farm, St Mary’s church were our favorite haunts. Those not visiting grandmas also had lucrative options, there were evening picnics to military mahadev where you could see fish, animals and play on the slides, biscuit Mahadev, there was Laxmi tekdi and the water used to flow freely there and then there was the queens garden with its magical mirrors in the garden.
We did not have chips and the best snack was churmura and chiwda. There used to be one cricket summer camp in union gymkhana, otherwise our summer training was in every galli and play ground. There used to be a competition to be first on the ground to get the best pitch, the games usually lasted till you could tan yourself no more.
Results came on tenth April and that was the only day we ever knew who our post man was. Results was usually pass for all and we did have ranks which mattered to the uncles and aunties around your house, getting a pass was enough.
Then came the mangoes and we never had to use the knife, mangoes of every variety from every tree were yours to have, there was no concept of organic and all that, because they were all as natural as it gets. Eating mangoes was a competition and there were no pressures to lose weight.
By the time the jambhuls came it used to be time to get back to school. It was time to get your uniform stitched, once a year if you are lucky and the cloth shop and tailor was fixed, you had to buy books from salgoankar stationary and mamas shop, that was the last you ventured in the city. Fresh books, fresh covers, fresh uniform and heavy rains to drape them.
Kids today would never know the fun of crossing nalas full of water in heavy rains and yes we got holidays if it rained heavily, we miss the heavy rains so much. Paper boats and rockets were essential basic crafts for this season. This was the time to go after the crabs, which suddenly came into the field from no where and tasted yum.
The trees were so abundant that we did not need to plant, it was considered outcasts not to be able to climb a tree and you would get only the left over which were dropped down. Getting fruits from markets and eating like we do today was not fashion. With the rains coming to an end we started the second round of picnics Sogal, Dhupdal, Gokak, Hidkal, Vaijanath and if you were little more adventurous Amboli were the happening locations, not very far but equally rewarding, the batata bhaji and chapati were the best companion for this and mom had the best recipe.
Kite flying was restricted to mid term holidays alone during Dasara and Diwali and kites with long tails and longest tail was fun.
We also had our Swamy bakery if you wanted some hot and creamy buns and rolls giving a touch of the colonial past of camp. Memories would go on even in winters with Diwali and Christmas vacation as Belgaum would then be cold and cosy.
We the played at the ground which now houses the Shivateerth, the BMS school ground, the ground behind Laxmi Mandir near Nanawadi. All these grounds have now been either closed for public or something else has occupied on the same. In those days we also used to get the occasional entry into the lido tank used by the commandos.
Movies were seen in theaters and Globe, Rex, Balkrishna and Arun talkies were for those who had the money, well tickets were around ten rupees and we could afford a maximum of two in a year. Popins, greens, pawan and raswanti were the options if you had money to indulge in food and the dosas, misals, alipak was delicious.
The arrival of the circus during Ganapati was common and seeing those elephants, Lions, hippos, Camels, Horses was a treat on the Station ground.
People actually came out for poojas and wished each other, rather than go on vacations. The entire year was a ball for every child, I sometimes wish our children enjoyed all this in this competitive world, when I see parents fighting for marks in kindergarten I wonder why the kids have to take so much pressure.
Sometimes I wish I can go back in time and re live those days in Belgaum. Going out, playing with friends for the heck of playing and not to be a professional, eating from the trees, getting tanned in the sun, that is what memories we have of our childhood, it is our memories that will last and not the results we had in our exams. I wish, I walk in the rains again and not worry about getting wet ever.