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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

10 April 2011

Life's a Beach!

Yesterday had ‘beach weather’ written all over it, and we weren’t about to argue. So off we went to Balmoral for a spot of sun ’n’ sand. Caitlyn splashed around in the surf with glee; Caleb, with a mixture of fear and fascination. And while they collected shells to decorate a sandcastle (see photo), I looked back on family picnics from my childhood.

Every year, the Pereira Clan, as we call dad’s side of the family, went on a picnic to Juhu beach for the day. Our Uncle Bonzo, who worked for British Airways, hired the BOAC shack. After the mandatory ‘picnic meeting’ was held at Nana’s house, we were all set to go.

Once we got to Juhu, all we wanted to do was take a dip in the ocean. We’d put on our swimsuits, arm ourselves with Frisbees, bats, and beach balls, and get down to the all-important task of blowing up a HUGE blue float we called a dinghy. Mission accomplished, we’d haul it down to the beach and race towards the breaking waves.

The Very Important Task was to try and get all 20 cousins onto the dinghy – and stay there! No mean feat when you’ve got 20 slippery bodies scrambling to stay afloat while the waves did their best to topple us over!

Swim over, we would get treated to nariyal pani (tender coconut water) or talgoras (I have no idea what this fruit is called in English!). But the piece de résistance was bung golas – shaved ice on a stick dunked into a glass filled with shocking shades of sherbet, sour lime juice and a pinch of chat masala. Slurp! Slurp!! Slurp!!!

Treat time over, we’d play a game or two of beach cricket and aati-paati. Thoroughly sated, we would troop back to the shack. On cue, an uncle would hoist a hose pipe up a tree, and hey presto, we had an ‘outdoor shower’. Just two minutes per person – in any case, the water was freeeezing!

There’s nothing like a swim to work up an appetite. Huge handis (vessels) of food would appear, as if by magic, and we would all dig in. Dal, rice, fried fish and pickle never tasted so good!

While the uncles and aunts sipped on their beers and the cousins got to drink Rasna (a kind of cordial), a sing-song session would begin. An overturned tub became a drum to keep the beat while my cousin Kim led the singing. Uncle Merwyn sang Blue Moon, Uncle Trevor sang Jezebel, and the kids all had their favourites. Mine was Tomorrow from the movie 'Annie'!

While the aunts and uncles caught 40 winks, the kids played games: Rounders on the table-tennis table, Dumb Charades or Rummy. As the sun’s rays lengthened, afternoon chai was made using condensed milk (no Tetrapaks then), the tins of which we licked clean. Marie biscuits and home-made pineapple upside-down cake were proffered. Blink and they were over! Just like our family picnic. But the memories live on...

Do you have any picnic memories? Where did you go? What was the highlight?


  1. Dont we all now know that the food doesn't actually appear like magic? It takes us mums to slave away thanklessly to get it all done. At least mission accomplished - wonderful childhood memories. The kids look so grown up!x

  2. It is such a lovely post. You write so well. It's very evocative of childhood. Brilliant.

  3. Very nicely written, Alison! Brought back memories of simpler times! :)


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