I was born into a simple family with simple needs. My dad was the sole bread winner of the family while my mother is a home maker. We went to a school just stone's throw away from home and mostly walked the distance. We visited our grandmother who also lived very close by and most of our relatives lived within 3km radius! So undoubtedly this also meant that like 99% of the Mangaloreans, we did not travel abroad for Summer vacations. Nor did we tour around the country exploring the rich cultural heritage of India or it's scenic beauty. In my previous posts I have raved about how India's coast provides so much livelihood & food to its people by way of its natural bounty, today I will tell you about the great time we had on its pristine clean beaches.
Ours was a close knit family and I grew up in a big family - with plenty of cousins my age and we always had a blast visiting each other's homes during vacations. We would wait for our annual exams to finish so that we could pack our bags and go to each other's homes by turns. When we ran out of fresh clothes (it meant it was time to return home) we always got coaxed into staying an extra day or two by borrowing clothes and a mandatory call was made back home to inform our parents that we wouldn't be back for another few days. It was so much fun! The games we would play during the day - usually indoor board games (Scrabble, Ludo & Monopoly) & Cards and the chit chatting that started right from the time when each of us took turns to bathe in the traditional bathroom where water used to be heated in a baan (large copper pot ) fuelled by firewood or dry katti (coconut shells) or sudethi/pido (coconut palm or just it's spine) or just koli (dry leaves usually of the jackfruit tree) till the time we fell off asleep - yapping away to glory, well into the wee hours of morning (or till the time a disgruntled & dishevelled parent came knocking on our door asking us to shut up & go to sleep!)
The star attraction of this childhood fun package was the bi-yearly family picnics that we had at the nearest beach. In our case it was always 'Thannir Bhavi' (the beach got it's name from the island close to it which had a sole borewell with fresh water - in Kannada, Thannir means cool water & bhaavi means well - so it was the only refuge for the inhabitants of the island which was surrounded by unpalatable saline water). Anyway, we would all assemble at Sultan Battery (Tippu Sultan's watch tower simply called as 'battheri' in local lingo which is now 'renovated' instead of being 'restored' and is beyond recognition) situated on the banks of the river Nethravathi and some rickety boats would then ferry us across the river to the other side from where we trotted towards the beach. Along this 5-7 minute boat ride kids were again asked to shut up & sit still while the ladies indulged in fervent prayer asking God to keep our boat from toppling over. I still remember the age old Konkani hymns that were meant for a safe journey sung by my cousin's grandma. Once we reached the other side, there was no stopping us as we ran towards the inviting waters and had a frolickin' time while the adults sat under the shade of the Casurina trees (called as chapkanche rook in Konkani if im not mistaken) and had their own silly stuff to talk about (ahem!). Besides sun bathing the Indian way (fully dressed - lol!) we also caught kube (clams/cockles) in the shallow water. When tea break was announced we hungrily devoured the snacks which our mothers rustled up at home (each of them made one item) - green chutney & butter sandwiches, dahi vada, potato wafers, meat puffs, buns and lemonade. After which came the part I hated the most - changing into fresh clothes as the evening winds blew into our brain & spinal cord & made us shiver. It was such an ordeal to get sand out of every nook & corner of our body & clothes - Icky! And then of course came the journey back home by the local bus (the boat ride was not so safe on our way back apparently) and getting off at our respective bus stops and trudging along back home with not-so-gentle reminders of sand still stuck in odd places (i'm grinning here!). The salt water dip & breeze did us good and it was so ritualistic & therapeutic for me that I miss it so much now (I don't dare step into the waters of Mumbai). Those were definitely the best days of my life. The ocean is just a part of me I guess and I still make it a point to visit the beaches of Mangalore whenever possible.
- 1 cup freshly grated coconut*see note
- 1 loosely packed cup coriander leaves
- a few mint leaves (about 4-5)
- 1-2 green chillies (or more)
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
- 3 quarters of a lime - juice extracted
- salt to taste
Wash the coriander & mint leaves well, drain and grind them along with the rest of the ingredients to a coarse paste. Refrigerate and use up within 2 days.