One of the reasons I never get tired of reading Calvin is that, it always gets my neurons firing into deep recesses of my memories and almost always finds some connection.
Last week, I saw the comic strip shown above, and instantly, I recalled my summer vacations spent in Mylapore.
The Chennai heat will definitely get to you. And in the early-mid 90s, without cable television (or 24 hour TV), without AC’s (or 24 hour power), the afternoon nap was the best way to escape the heat. So it would be that, after lunch, all the elders would retire to sleep, while the kids, unaffected by the heat, would continue to play on in the sun.
Thus, it would happen that a little after noon (in Chennai, lunch is at 10, afternoon siesta is from 11 to 2. I still find it weird), my cousin Vivek, his friends Bhuvana (some how related to the land-lady; she would also be visiting Mylapore for the summer vacations) and Murali Krishna, along with my sister and me, would find ourselves in the living room of the land-lady, after tiring ourselves of whatever outdoor game we played.
The house that Vivek lived in, was actually a relic in the modern times. Built a long time ago, the floor was the deep red of the oxide flooring and wooden beams supported the ceiling. As if to fit in with the architecture, the land-ladies living room was characterized by the things that it did not have. The huge room had one large swing, common in the houses of the south, hanging from an antique hook in the middle of the room, a dilapidated show-case, stuffed with old papers and books unread for years, on top of which sat a TV, and, since the swing had taken the middle hook, a creaky old fan hung off center in the room.
Most adventures in life are imagined. I will not go climbing Mt Everest or catch a murderer, and that is part of the reason why the adventure TV shows and movies become popular. We get to live the adventure by proxy. As kids, the adventures itself were of a much simpler variety, coming mostly of Amar Chitra Katha’s and Tinkles and Gokulams and Champaks. However, Vidya and I, actually lived through an adventure for us kids at that time – The train journey from Calcutta to Chennai (Don’t all adventures in Tinkle happen during a journey).
And what better place to relive the “adventure” and introduce new people to the awesome world of long distance train travel by reliving it on the swing!
Thus, would start a game of swinging back-an-forth, pretending we are on the Coromandel Express. We used to start slowly, like a train leaving a station, and then gather speed, till we came precariously close to the TV. Stations would breeze by as we shout “Chai-Coffee-Chai” to emulate the hawkers and pretended to nap, eat, read. Oh, yes, we never missed making the “tiduk-tadak”, our onomatopeia of the train speeding. Vishakapatnam would soon come, and we would turn around and sit, as the train reversed directions at Vishakapatnam (it being a terminus).
By the time, we would have hauled us in to Howrah, it would be 1 or 1.30, time at which, Patti, bound by her strict diabetic routine, would walk into the kitchen to make herself coffee and tiffin. We would crowd around her for a while, eat bits of her tiffin before heading off to sleep. Carefree.