Today all of a sudden, memories of by-gone saturdays and sundays came to my mind....I was born and brought up in Daltonganj, Palamau, now in Jharkhand. A land to which bengalis (west-Bengal) can well relate to. The *(in)famous jungles (Betla Forest), pleasant weather, sparkling river(Koel), the red, sticky mud, scent of the mohua trees and flowers, beautiful sceneries and all that which nature could bestow to make a land look like a Queen.
Sundays till 2000 :-
We (cousins) used to wait for the sundays impatiently, the weekdays didn't pass by as it passes by today, saturdays never appeared in a blink after the routined home-office journeys from mondays to fridays. Saturdays, although, we had our "half-day" at school but that heightened the exitement for the weekend sojourn that started there-after.
Back from school at around 11, and during the summer, our afternoon activities didn't leave a single green mangoes on the trees. Some tried plucking mangoes by throwing stones and some technically superior mates used "Gulti" to get a sure shot at the desired target. For people who belonged to my category, plucking mangoes was easier as we could afford to select the most "fruit-full" branch of the tree, and therefore, choosing and getting the best among the lot was just about taking the risk to climb safe and thereafter the descending from the tree with bruised legs were not much to ponder over. We had a loyal company in this venture, "Jimmy" who would guard each tree from any tresspassers (sabji-waali, gowala to be specific) all round the week. The task of collecting the mangoes and then distributing among some younger cousins (cousins who were too small to climb or make a shot but stood under the tree with unfailing eagerness and enthusiasm) was more of a "responsible and elderly task". The mangoes were kept in the jhoori and would be left peaceful for the next day "EVENT".
The next day event would start in the late afternoon after having the dleicious "MANGSHO_BHAAT" for lunch and thereafter when parents and all elder members of the family drooled in the ecstacy of a summer afternoon nap, we cousins would take the charge of the "Ranna-ghor (kitchen) and the "Bhanrar-ghor"(store). The elder cousins took the task of peeling and cutting the mangoes and the younger ran to and fro the ranna ghor and bhnarar ghor to bring in the ingredients to prepare the most awaited finger-licking mango preparation. Ingredients to be brought in to prepare the juiciest of "aam-er chaat" included salt, red-chilly powder, Turmeric powder, tamarind (paste) and all that to make the preparation tasty and mouth-watering.
It was almost 4 by the time our Mango-chatka session got over and then we would sit near the main door under the stair and keep our ears open to a sound which yelled "KUUUUUUULFIIIIIIII Malai"....moment we heard this voice, all with our gathered pocket money, (which was a maximum of 20 rs. gathered from 7 cousins.) we would silently open the door and call the Kulfi-chacha. 20 rs. would get us 4 kulfis as big as the largest cornetto that we get today. The Kulfi-mania was not supposed to be carried on for long as we did this hiddenly. (except for a few days when all the family members would get up to treat themself with one, that was undoubtedly a party affair with 15 members smacking the huge KULFI).
Then at around 5.30-6 was the most awaited and dependent affair. we used to sit hurled in the garden, below the favourite "Gulab-khas" mango tree as it had a bench under it, or some smarter fellow would just run to help "dadabhai or chorda" clean the PRIDE of the town, "A Hoodless Left-hand drive Jeep". The expression on each one of our face while sitting under the tree, was so innocent and a smile so priceless that anyone would die for. At that moment if chorda or dadabhai would have asked us to jump into a well...me think, we would have done so....Needless to say, ALL this for a trip to the "Betla Forest". A 20 km. (25 mins.ride- for the winding and pebbeled road) long ride, would take us to that paradise and then half an hour of pure fun with the monkeys, deer, peacocks, elephants and if luckier, would get an hour long elephant ride into the deep and dark forest with a halogen held overhead.
Ride back home, on the way, chorda/dadabhai would treat us with gorom jilipi and singara at their favourite Chianki bus-stop and then carry a plastic or two of singara and jilipi for the rest of the family members.
The days ended and we slipped into the dream destination only to reluctantly open our eyes in the morning to wait for the week to pass by and again the SATURDAY and SUNDAY to come fast.
*(in)famous jungles (Betla Forest): I say so because now it is really risky to visit the jungle after the sun set. children there no more get a chance to visit the paradise so frequently. the place is unsafe for both the localites and the tourists after a certain time of the day.