As the summer sets in, the fruit juice vendors do brisk business in the Indian cities. Those who have to move or work outside in hot and humid conditions drink fruit juices to keep them hydrated. Grapefruit, pomegranate, orange, mango and pineapple juices remain in great demand. Health-conscious people also appreciate the juice of bitter gourd, beetroot and carrot. As the temperature rises, so does the profit of the fruit juice shops!
There are hygienic and environmental concerns though and peeled fruits are often seen kept uncovered under the open sky. Those who prepare the juice in these shops do not wear gloves and aprons. Since most of these stalls are on the roads, there is no protection from dust and flies.
Drinking sugarcane juice helps to beat dehydration and heat stroke during the summer.Loaded with glucose and electrolytes, sugarcane juice acts as an instant energy booster. Add to it the goodness of lemon and ginger and you have the perfect summer drink! So, people throng around these sugarcane crushing carts all day long. The drinks are served in plastic glasses or, better still, in those nature-friendly earthen pots. Then you have the smell of the mother earth in your cool drink.Read More
Rich or relatively well-off Indians who live in the north of the country arrange for Shehnai players to play during the marriage ceremonies. Usually a dais is built near the entrance of the house for the shehnai players.
Below is a sketch of a ritual that the Bengalis usually perform during their marriages. It is known in Bengali as সাত পাকে বাঁধা…The bride enters the pavillion where the actual marriage will take place. The groom is already there along with the priests. The bride seats on a wooden stool called a pidi. Her brothers and close male relatives then hold the pidi and lift the bride to carry her around the groom seven times in a row. The groom remains in front of the wedding pyre.
All along, the bride covers her eyes with a pair of betel leaves. Only after she is carried around the groom seven times will she take the betel leaves off her eyes.Read More
It is said that the Bengalis can’t live (or have a proper meal) without fish. Fish is everywhere in the life and language of the Bengalis. To mean somebody who does not know which side of the bread is buttered, a Bengali would say “ভাজা মাছটি উল্টে খেতে জানে না”, that is ‘someone who doesn’t know how to turn over a fried fish while eating it’. Here’s my first sketch of this morning’s fish market…
In Tagore’s নৌকাডুবি (Nouka Dubi), Ramesh Kabiraj, while having a meal is so ecstatic to find the head of a Rohu fish on his plate that he takes it tenderly in his hand and says, “This is the head of the Rohu fish! This is not a dream, neither an illusion or a delusion, but the real head of a fish — truly, the crown of the Rohu fish.” Here’s my second sketch of the fish market….
Even a few decades ago, the Bengalis had no hopes of owning houses and cars. The only resource they owned had been a few abjectly poor fathers-elder brothers-uncles, who knew how to keep their spine erect and how to apply that weapon-of-all-weapons — the ability to say NO. The only pomp and splendour in their life was their sense of self-respect.
Those Bengalis are no more. The only heirloom they handed over to us — namely, a sense of dignity — is almost extinct now (in an environment of overwhelming worldly prosperity compared to those earlier times)….