Summer vacation lunch hour was nothing less than an event at Aai's place ..... Cooking and feeding a bunch of juveniles was no joke ..... and each of us being willful kids ! Lunch time equalled to an hour of mothers howling and kids complaining, cribbing, sobbing and eating. It was like an everyday ritual. Another thing that was an everyday thing was the summer power cut.
Thankfully there was no afternoon power cut that day. But it was still hot and humid. Ajaa (Grandpa) sat by the window bare bodied, reading a book. He picked up the newspaper at intervals and fanned himself. The dusty ceiling fan which was never oiled in it's entire life made a periodic noise with each rotation. I laid on the Araam Chair (Recliner) licking the takuaa (mango seed). The juice dribbling down my elbow.
There was a strange silence in the room after the loud lunch hour. Sundaari our pet cat moved around the house and purred in anticipation of some left over rice and fish.
The only sound that could be heard was that of the ceiling fan and the jingle of Aai's glass bangles. Also some broken piece of peppy Odiya music from the baasti close by (slum) ........
Aai moped the dark grey cemented floor with a wet cloth before she rolled out the sapaa (grass mat).
I jumped off the Araam Chair and snuggled on to her mat. She started patting my back .... a gesture to make me fall asleep. Those days I demanded Aai for an extra story telling session in the afternoons. Aai had a bottomless treasure of stories ....... she could even weave stories from her imagination. The story telling sessions often ended with Aai falling asleep and me slipping off.
Late afternoons all of us (cousins) would gather on the staircase ..... that was the safest place where we could sneak in, far from the sight of our mothers. Somehow we never felt the summer heat. We would play silly games. I being the eldest and the bossy one would direct them all to be my students while I act out as a teacher, a strict one !! Sometimes I would become a doctor and write illegible prescriptions to my patients. We would roll out small balls of papers ..... yes you guessed it. They were pills . We would even enact our moms and play with our cooking sets ..... I wonder if kids today still play such games.
And our games only lasted as long as the nap time of our mothers'. The long hours of silence would break into another session of howls and cries ! Loud enough for Aai to wake up ........ She would walk straight up to the kitchen with puffy sleepy eyes and slice up a watermelon into pieces ... while calling our names.
We would all gather around the big plate of watermelon ..... I would hurriedly pick up my share and go sit by the dusty wooden framed green window with cob webs hanging from the grill and watch the baasti (Slum) children play and hoping to catch up a street fight of the women, if lucky !
Preparation Time - 30 minutes
Freshly squeezed Grapefruit - 1.5 Cup or 2 (Nos)
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Mint Leaves - Few
Freshly Squeezed Lemon juice- 1/3 cup
Ginger - 1 inch
Water - 1 cup
Vodka - 1/2 cup
Method of Preparation
1. In a sauce pan add water and sugar. Put the heat on and stir till the sugar dissolves. Add few drops of lemon juice to it.
2. Muddle few mint leaves and ginger and add it to the sugar solution.
3. Keep it in the fridge for 2-3 hours to cool. It will also allow the mint and ginger flavor to infuse into it. You may do this overnight for instant use.
4. Strain the mint and ginger from the sugar solution.
5. Dip the rim of 6 martini glasses first in a dish with lemon juice and then a dish with sugar. Set aside to dry.
6. Combine the grapefruit juice and lemon juice and vodka, if using, in a pitcher.
7. When ready to serve, place ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, add the cocktail mixture to fill the shaker 3/4 full, and shake for about 30 seconds. It's important to shake for a full 30 seconds to get the drink very cold and dilute it slightly with the ice.
8. Pour into the sugared martini glasses and garnish with mint.