Mumbai is known to have an amazing weather. We are a part of the country that witnesses so many different weathers and not any in extreme. And being in Bombay all my life I have fond memories for each of these weathers – as a kid, as a teen and also now. The memories are ever-building and ever-lasting. So now when the city is at its peak of summer and everyone is cribbing about how hot it is and how ‘fried’ they feel. I would like to share a memory. My memory. It would have been much better an experience if I had a pensive to take you in it with me but alas, that’s not happening. Sigh. So let me try and do justice to it (at least some) and put it into words.
One of the fondest memories I have of my various summer vacations is the gola chacha (uncle). Gola is a cool refreshing ice candy made on a popsicle stick using crushed ice and flavoured syrup, much like snow cone/ shave ice. For a kid who wants to be indoor which is all cool and cosy but also feels restless to go out and play with her friends in the hot blitzing sun, it was quite a big decision to make. Which would last only about 10 secs. Playing with friends can make you forget all about the sun and the heat momentarily but you feel tired, dehydrated and cranky. At such moments, many friendships were saved by the entry of the gola chacha.
He must be in his forties but to us then he was an old man, white beard and moustache, heartfelt smile that showed off his chipped front tooth. He always wore the skull cap and white kurtas on striped lungis. His clothes never looked clean and fresh but he always looked warm and friendly. He always came pushing the gola cart, bells jingling. The bells sounded like his entry background score, all the kids will know that he is coming and will run to their houses to get the money for the golas. He knew most of us by our names. Also had an idea where each lived (which at that time wasn’t threatening at all) and at some days when one of us would be out or sick, he asked after us as well. He showed genuine concern and we all loved talking to him. Just till the time he makes our gola and we get busy with it.
We used to love trying different flavours each day. It was difficult for him to know our favourites. Not because we didn’t have one but we kids used to love competing with each other about how dark our tongues used to become after consuming gola. So unsurprisingly, I accept that I have tried more flavour combination with kala khatta! The gola chacha used to come up with different flavours for us too. Rose and kaccha aam, which in those days were consider premium flavours.
As I grew up those games became sparse and the society friends became distant. Everyone got busy with their lives. Some went to other cities for studying, some went abroad when their parents shifted, others just drifted apart. Not that I tried too hard to hold on to any of them. But just sitting at home listening to the bell of a gola cart after a long time brought back all of those sweet childhood memories! But of course, it’s not the gola chacha I know and miss.