My Nanny

I was reading a blog by Desiree who is currently in India she wrote about Ooty, it reminded me of the stories I’ve heard not just from Nayan who is living there but also from my nanny (grandmother). As a young girl she would spend her summer months in Ooty in her uncle’s home, gathering together on the veranda singing songs with the neighbors. Her brothers would play cricket in the daytime with all the other boys. Her stories of India sound like a novel so romantic and dreamy I wish I could visit that time and experience the warmth. I did visit India a few years ago and even though things have radically changed since my family left however the warmth and hospitality of the people I met was still there.

I stayed with my uncle who is a catholic priest and at the time a head master for a boy’s college, which is also where he lived. It was interesting staying there to walk around the campus and everyone staring or wanting to get to know you. His guard was an old man who had a serious limp and most of his teeth missing but what a character, actually everyone there had an interesting personality with wide smiles. My uncle asked me what I wanted to take home as our family has a long history of trips between India and the UK with suitcases full of things for everyone from cotton vests for the men to panties for the ladies. I remember when my grandmother would open her suitcase and the smell would rush out I looked forward to that as I thought I was that bit closer to India unfortunately as I got older I realized that it was only moth balls that I was smelling and not India!

I asked my uncle for mango pickle as that was the biggest thing that all my relatives looked forward to when someone came back from India, it was a commodity in our family if someone had more than the other then all hell broke out. My uncle laughed at my request and understood he summoned his secretary whose wife comes from a small village outside of Secunderabad, which is famous for the pickle. Actually my mum told me that I couldn’t come home unless I had the stuff even though I was living in Hong Kong at the time and my mum in Canada!

The day before I was to fly my uncle gave me the pickle and my goodness I had half a backpack of the delicious and precious stuff that I was eager to open and eat with some boiled basmati rice. His secretary’s wife and her mother made the pickle and didn’t want anything in return I couldn’t believe how lucky I was and how giving they were. The funniest part was flying with it as I was a little worried about the security. I was stopped at the x-ray not because of the pickle but it was the small umbrella that I had which they almost confiscated but they were curious why someone like me has pickle then I said I was Anglo-Indian and all was understood with a smile.

I guess what I wanted to say is that I miss my nan I have thought about writing a novel or something as her stories are too important to be lost. However I think it’s too late, her memory is now her disability she hasn’t forgotten who people are yet, but talking to her is difficult as you’re questioned the same questions over and over. It’s horrid what old age is really like.


Mandy said...

Ah, mango pickle... one of the many amazing foods you have introduced me to. My culinary life would definitely be poorer if I'd never met you. :)