Summer brings back many childhood holiday memories. Summers meant no school; no home work and nothing to stop us have fun. We kids would wait for one ritual all the year. Pickle making, this was the grand celebration in our south Indian Brahmin family. Grandma was always ready to teach us everything about life through this ritual. Firstly we were bunch of rowdies all around. Every year pickles were supplied to us from her house. Right from avakai, magai and so on. The men of the family were in charge to cut the mangoes in different shapes.oh they come in all shapes blocks for avakai, strips for magai, grate few mangoes for another variety of pickle.
Mangoes, my uncles used to take pride in this cutting and peeling and grating. When you eat mango pickle the juices come mixed with every single piece and the smaller the piece the more masala it absorbs. They cracked jokes, got competitive and concentrated like a sumo wrestler with their weapons a knife and a cloth. They learnt to work as brothers and as a team in doing this. Oh how I miss it these days my very own family made mango pickle.
Women of the family were attired in their madi kattu (sari draped around in the Brahmin style).man they looked beautiful. I know all those who are familiar to these rituals are dying to go back and do them again. Ok aunts, moms grandma had they own duties sketched out and they followed them like an army of ants. When I eat pickle in another house I compare it to my house, each and every household has its own way of making a mango avakai.this formula is in the hands of the women folk of the family. This shows how united they are in sticking to a particular recipe this is passed on to generation from generations.
Then comes the most interesting part of all. Time for kiddies work. Armed with a white cloth and newspaper, we were in charge of cleaning the cut mango pieces. This way we could save the sweets pieces for later siesta time. Mind you though granny had an eye on us all the time. No stealing because if you did you get to miss the best part that is saved for the last. Looking back that was the best team building exercise my family taught us. Working together as a team, learning from seniors and so on.
I want the same to work for my son. He is in the age of ready made pickles. i feel he is missing out on bonding with elders, learning new tricks ,laughing with the huge extended family. Surviving in a team, managing a team. These experiences help us from BEING better personally and professionally. I love and yearn for my pickled summers.