I had mentioned the last house in which we used to live in Udaipur. It was made of marble, a locally available material that, surprisingly for me, was used in actually making boundary walls of houses and even farms. There were gardens and farm on all sides of the house. The garden in the house had amla tree that bore fruits in abundance.
Amla (Emblica officinalis)
This one tree bore fruits enough for two families: mine and that of the landlord. The pungent amla was never a fruit that I chose to eat. Yet, as I knew it is the best possible source of vitamin C in India, I used to eat a few, unwillingly. I like their murabba very much, but that I can’t make at home. So, it has to be bought. I also remember dried, salted amlas from my past.
In Kasi, drying fruits and vegetables was a common way of preserving them at our place. My grandma used to preserve cauliflowers and peas that way. They became ready to used on soaking in water. Then, there were the elaborate and (in winters) daily pickling sessions. Mango, lemon, jack fruit, chillies etc. were popular fruits/vegetables that were pickled. I have seen bamboo pickles too, and pork pickle in Nagaland. The spicey mixture filled inside the chillies, sweet and sour lime pickles made at my maternal grandmother’s and mango and jack fruit pickles of my grandma were my favourites.
Almond (Prunus amygdalus)
Digressions: interesting but not the main course.
From amla to amygdala (almond) then. The first time that I had seen almond trees was in Deoriya in 1993/4. Its leaves were reddish then, i.e. it was autumn. Ripe fruits had fallen on the ground and the locals were breaking the shell to eat the kernel. The next time I met the tree was in Udaipur, and then in Bangalore. The images above are from Lodha Uncle’s garden in Udaipur.
Guava (Psidium guajava) and Maize (Zea mays)
In the same garden there also used to be (and probably is) an old guava tree that bore fruits in abundance. Parrots like guava. They are both intelligent and persistent. Uncle hated them. He has fixed an empty tin canister on the guava tree and had converted the can into an alarming kind of alarm. Alas, his alarm used to scare the parrots only momentarily. They used to return, again and again, in his presence and absence, to feed on his guavas. It seems that the parrots don’t have any kind of respect for one’s private property. Their behaviour was inappropriate, and the terms in which uncle’s heart used to curse them would sound equally so, only if they could be heard.
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