Friday, April 29, 2011

My childhood summers

Summer camp! Summer camp!! Summer camp!!!

It’s raining summer camps everywhere. The colored flyers and banners are all around, each one claiming to teach art,craft, music,drama, pottery and many more in short span.

As I see many latch-key kids making use of the summer camps, I am reminded of my own summer camp. My summer camps were always @ my grandparents house in the city of Madras( i like the ring of madras than chennai) which can boast of only one weather, though in varying degrees- hot, hotter and hottest.

But it never mattered to me that I travelled from the cooler climes of Bangalore, because I had the cool company of my 10 cousins who would also descend from their cities to my grandparents house at Mylapore (a suburb of Chennai). We also had company in two little girls who were the nieces of our maid servant. Those girls had actually come to share the extra house hold work but we would drag them to play with us, they almost become a part of our gang thus making it 12.

No structured pattern in our camp, just footloose and carefree days of gay abandon.

My grandparents house served as a transit point for all those relatives who broke their journey while moving from the southern cities of Madurai, trichy to the cities in the north like Delhi, Dehradun, Calcutta etc.So we had a regular flow of relatives. We enjoyed meeting them and then our story sessions with our peria patti( my grandmom’s elder sister), the frequent visit to relatives house and outings in the big amby car MSR 2277 in which all the 10 of us huddled along with our thatha and patti, our presence at weddings and occasions , our walks to santhome beach and occasional visits to marina, triplicane or elliots beach, our daily visit to Kapali kovil(temple) and shopping around the shoppers paradise called Luz, eat outs @ woodlands, shanti vihar, the famous rayars café and then of course the way we played pranks on each other and the various games on the mottai madi (terrace)- all these and much more made my summer camp.

We also lent helping hand to our elders when required. This was more fun than a chore. We helped them when they went to market, we bought the essential provisions from the nearby store, helped thatha with his work like filing papers etc,watering plants, cleaning the fridge, pumping water from the hand pump etc.

What we enjoyed most was sweeping the terrace in the evening and splashing buckets of water to make it cool, because this is where we would camp in the night under the star spangled sky, Our fans were natural which came in the form of sea breeze from the nearby Santhome beach . Thatha would sleep on the string cot while my grandmom, my mom and her 3 sisters along with their 2 sisters-in-law(mamis) and brothers would keep chatting. We children would play hide and seek, chat and share stories. If it was a full moon day, it was an ocassion for us, since we would have ‘nila sappadu‘ on the terrace. (Moon light dinners)

My perimma (mom’s elder sis) would bring sambar rice and appalams in a big dish to the terrace while my elder mami would bring in Thayir saadam(curd rice) and vadu manga( baby mangoes brined and spiced).

All the 10 of us(cousins) would sit around perimma. She would then give small plates which would hold our appalams. We would have a bite of the appalam and stretch our hand for the sambar rice. Perimma then would place the sambar rice on our palms and we would pop it into our mouth hurriedly and stretch our palms again. It never mattered to us if we were hungry or fussy all that mattered was the competition to stretch our hand for the next morsel. In a trice the sambar rice would be emptied.

Next was the thayir saadam. Now vadu manga substituted the appalam. All of us would have a bite of vadu manga and then stretch our hands for the thayir saadam.

After dinner, we all would go down 2 flights of stairs to drink water( this served as a exercise) and then brought our mats and pillows and then spread it on terrace.

After some running around and some story sessions later we all would blissfully go to sleep counting the stars in the sky,or waiting for the beams of the light house and looking at the temple tower of kapali koil which was visible from our house terrace. Sigh! Such blissful days. Will they ever come back? I would trade any material comforts for those lovely childhood days I have had - if ever I could live through them again.


  1. This post took me on a nostalgic trip- amby cars and thayir saadam-vadu maanga and fun with cousins.. Give me all that anyday to Summer camps !.

  2. Asha, Made me nostalgic we also used to spend our days during vacations. But the venue was our house.

    But todays children we feel, are missing all that kind of fun . I cannot say they are missing bcos times have changed and summer camps are the in thing today. I feel for nuclear families that is one way of sending the children to spend time with other kids as they would learn to share , learn and enjoy as it is not possible in today's school environ as they are saddled with on studies .

    I have also conducted many summer camps and I have enjoyed it along with kids.

  3. Wow!!!
    Each and everything described by you has been experienced by me and I am sure by many others like us. It could even be me writing this it, sounds so relatable(I am sure there is no such word).
    Thanks Asha was writing this and bringing back all the childhood memories flooding out like a broken dam. The only difference is you spent your days in Mylapore like my husband, I spent it in Triplicane near Parthasarathy temple.
    It used to be fun pumping water for patti to wash her vessels, and swinging the unjal so fast that we would get blasted by our patti, she would use such words like "Tattvanigala" we never knew the meaning but liked the sound of such words coming out of her mouth.
    It was the true camp so different from these so called modern day camps that can bore children to death.
    I never sent my kids to these camps for they really hated them, and just left them to do whatever they wanted to do, which could even mean doing nothing at

  4. !!!! enaku etho tintin champak la vara summer article padicha mathiri irukku!! :) semma writeup

  5. @ bhargavi - Do you like them too? same pinch :)

    @ chitra - As long as the camps are not run like schools from 9-2 even i don't have any thing against them chitra. I agree with no extended family and with only electronic devices for company It's better to keep them away at a camp.

    @rama - oh the oonjal reminds me , even I and my cousin did that which turned out to be an unforgettable incident. Will make a post of that too thank you :)

    @ gils - thank you but tintinla edhu article?

  6. WOWOWOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW My summer camp was my Nani-Nana's House , It use to be so hot but still we went and since my mother are 6 sisters and a brother , we had so many cousins and usually majority of them came over .. FULL HOUSE..

    There is a small canal two yards from our house and afternoons Jump in there and playing in water .. and as you said sprinkle water so the air got cooler..

    I love this post awwwwwwwwwwwww i want to be a child againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and go to my vilalge with everyone


  7. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Thank you for your comment on mine. I am going to link to yours from mine.

  8. surprise..i was just talking about the joy of childhood days with my colleague..good post boss

  9. @Bikram - wow, that's nice!

    @ Priya - welcome priya, loved your place too. Thanks for the link.

    @ ramesh - Thank you :)

  10. my daughter has her summer camp in bangalore in my patents house with her cousins(totally 3 in no.the no. is greatly regreted by niece )Her periamma, amma or patti serves kaipiddi sadanm and herthatha my father is the chef(world's best chef- a title my father was conferred by his grandchildren),my mother is great narrator of stories (but only to her grandchildren i don't her narrating anything to me