A Tamarind Trail

Long time ago, when I was a kid, 8 years old, I used to love visiting my maternal grandparents’ house. My mother, my younger brother and all my maternal aunts and uncles with their children used to gather at their house in a town called Dhule near Mumbai during summer vacations. We were fifteen cousins altogether and my second cousins joined the gang from my neighboring grandparents’ houses. 

We all used to have great fun playing various outdoor games, going swimming, having pillow fights and running all around the house screaming and shouting and fighting and crying. We never felt like going back home and departing from others. Getting over with the vacation was a nightmare for us all. 

My grandfather had a sugar factory in a village called Taloda which was 90 kilometers from Dhule. Once it so happened that my uncles planned to visit Taloda to stay there and have fun over the weekend. It was not long since they announced this at home and all of us were filled with excitement and vigor to visit the sugar factory – play in the sugarcane farms, go for bullock cart rides, walk on the streets, collect some conical cap shaped sheds of a tree and what not. 

Soon enough, five cars started from home accommodating thirty people belonging to my house and my three neighboring grandparents’ houses. We all followed each other, sang and ate while on the journey. To our surprise, my uncle stopped the car in between, much before the destination. All the cars behind us stopped after us. And uncle said, “Look there, there are so many tamarind fruits hanging on that tree, let’s get on the tree, pluck some fruits and have fun”. It seemed as if we were only waiting for him to say something like that – adventurous yet fun. In no time, all of us were out of the cars and on that tree. A few of us picked stones from the ground and started aiming at the fruits hanging on the tamarind tree. Within half an hour, we gathered a bag full of tamarind fruits and all of us went along the journey slurping the sour-tasting fruit of the tamarind tree.

 It was a great journey and equally happening was our stay at the sugar factory. It was exactly what we had thought of  – visiting sugarcane farms, riding on bullock carts, walking the streets, looking at how the factory worked, sucking sugarcane and having bonfire party in summer with ‘hurda’ a grain which we roasted in bonfire and had with salt and jaggery. Everything was enormously enjoyable and memorable. 

Ever after, it became a trend to visit the sugar factory at Taloda, stop by somewhere in the middle, pluck and munch on the tamarind fruits, reach the factory, have fun and come back in two days. 

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