Hiranmayi and Bhanupriya were now in Meerut. They had spent the first part of their holidays with their maternal grandparents. Now they were in Meerut with their paternal grandparents. They had some relatives who lived in Meerut and some other relatives who also came to Meerut for their holidays. All the cousins formed a big bang and never needed anyone else.
They used to play police-robber together, and each child had a part to play. The robber was integral to the game and to catch him they needed one inspector and two constables. What about the other children? What roles would they play? This difficult task was always the responsibility of the eldest cousin. Based on age, he would give each cousin a role to play. He would take the role of the judge, give the next eldest the role of lawyer of the police and the next eldest the role of lawyer of the robber. His favourite cousins would get to be the inspector and constables, and the one cousin that he would be most unhappy with, he would make the sole robber! Any cousins that would be left without a role would get to sit in the court as spectators.
At the other end of the spectrum of these games was their grandmother. She was very pious and had her own temple made in the house. Every morning Hiranmayi and Bhanupriya would join her in prayer. This was a new experience for the two of them. After the prayer, their grandmother would feed ‘roti’ to cows. Bhanupriya was scared of the big eyes of the cows and so would watch this act from afar. Hiranmayi, on the other hand was slightly more courageous. She would stand by her grandmother, trembling. After feeding the cows, their grandmother would sprinkle some dried rice for the birds to eat. Their grandmother would explain to them that we should always be kind to birds and animals.
The Nauchandi mela in Meerut was quite famous and used to be held during these holidays. Hiranmayi and Bhanupriya were about to go visit the mela.
“Where do we start from?” Bhanupriya asked.
“I really enjoy shooting the balloons with a gun. What about you?” Hiranmayi asked.
“I enjoy those different types of mirrors!” Bhanupriya said excitedly. There were usually a few different types of mirrors under a tent. Each mirror would be shaped differently and because of that the reflection would look different each time. In one, you would look tall, while in another you would look short. In one you would look fat like a watermelon, while in another you would look thin like a stick. This would always make them laugh and so they decided to start their visit to the mela from here.
The Nauchandi mela was full of fun things to do and interesting rides. The most interesting ride was the giant wheel. From the highest point, one could see the entire mela ground. While Hiranmayi was petrified of the rides, Bhanupriya was not scared at all! She always wanted to sit on every ride. While Bhanupriya would be on a ride, Hiranmayi would be watching a puppet show.
While talking about the mela, how can there be no mention of food? The food at the mela was very famous – different types of chaats, gol-gappas, allu-tikkis, chaat-papdi and dhai-bhallas. The smell of kebabs and tikkas was wafting throughout the mela. It was very hard to decide what to eat! Inspite of these varied delicacies, the mela would be incomplete without cotton candy. These pink fluffy cotton candy were fibrous, full of sweet and made of sugar. It was difficult to eat it as it usually stuck everywhere, but then that was the best part!
It was getting late in the evening and Hiranmayi and Bhanupriya were exhausted. On reaching home, they cuddled up to their parents and dreamt of their next holidays.
- integral – very important and necessary
- Nauchandi mela – a month-long extravaganza of great shopping, good food and enjoyable rides
- wafting – moving lightly through the air