Time Stops at Konshi
‘Shutting down’ sign blinked on the screen as I swung my handbag on my shoulder. I ran down from the stairs of my office building, straight to the Embankment station ignoring the lovely gardens in full bloom. ‘Not today’, I waved off to the mighty Thames. I managed my way dodging people on the escalators in the underground. A right, a left, a squeeze, manoeuvring my way between stations. I laughed at my silly three year old Londoner self. Travelling through the massive network seemed so daunting then and here I was ticking off the boxes. London is slowly becoming home.
I have two homes. Well, rather three. It was almost two years since I visited Mera Bharat Mahan and four since I witnessed the Monsoon. So, we packed our bags for some family time.
Yes, the travel bug had almost caught us until reality of adult world said, “Slow down, you need to certain aspects of your life sorted. Well, that’s what saner responsible people do.’’ So began our search for a new beginning, a place of our own in London which drained us physically and mentally. (I will narrate the drama over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, whichever you prefer). We were proud London home owners finally and then began the next phase of settling in (and we are still at it).
The chaotic traffic, the aroma filled streets, the ugly buildings grabbing every inch of the city.Ah! Mumbai.
Pune and Mumbai are special places. They are your siblings with whom you have a fight with and yet return.
But there are certain places which are close to your heart. You may not frequent them anymore but something about them makes you smile whichever corner of the world you may reside. There is no ‘natak’ or an ‘air’ but you are guaranteed only affection whenever your eyes meet.
We set off together to that special place – Konshi which perhaps doesn’t mean anything on the global map but has made my childhood memorable. My maternal grandmother’s ancestral village. I had made my last visit 7-8 years ago.
When, I first visited it as a twelve year old on a red dirt road, the place seemed mystical, perfect for a little adventure. The palm and betel nut tree orchard encloses the family home on one side and the hilly terrain of cashew nut orchards to the other. So how do reach ‘Janaki Niwas’ you ask? One has to cross a sluggish stream full of boulders and then make a way through the tall palms. Few little hops and you are then greeted by gentle brook and all the warm, lovely people of ‘Janaki Niwas’.
This is where one learned that rubbing coconut oil on one’s feet was an excellent insect repellent for that walk in the ‘Kaji’ (Cashew nut orchards). Not to forget the remedies for chasing away all the ghouls if you found one on your way in the forest beyond. Porcupine needles and old snake skins were treasured. One ate a ripe juicy guava by jumping a little high to fetch it and bathed all afternoons in the brook. Twitching your nose to the cow dung cleansing ritual you could scoot of to admire all different varieties of ‘Jaswand’ (Hibiscus) in the garden. One could spend the day helping around making ‘kokum’ (Dried tangy fruit used for a curry or to make a cool drink) or perhaps bugging your older cousins (actually, uncles) to take you for a swim. One never cared if one was best dressed in the summer as you proudly wore the dirt marks on your chest (a soiled shirt).
Evenings were a trek to the waterfall in the woods or climbing on the slippery black boulder. One could eat all the ‘Gare’ (Jackfruit) in the world and slurp the ‘Shevaya and Ras’(Rice noodles and coconut milk delicacy) to the hearts content. A place where you witnessed the birth of a calf and climbed up the attic when you were upto some mischief.
So much and more.
As the rain poured, I once again realised what it meant to have wet muddy feet. A new place always holds promises and brings out a thirst for adventure. The people, the food, the exciting sights, you can’t have enough of it at all. But Konshi never failed and don’t think it ever will as I looked at my nephew (actually, a cousin…lol) with admiration. He is the one who led us through the narrow path to his home this time. Just aged four. Time does stop at Konshi.
P:S: With lots of love to Subhash Ajoba and Sunila Aaji. Thank you for giving us the best memories of our life.
7 August 2016