He stood there, at the end of the small garden. He was gazing in my direction, standing still. I also stood there almost frozen … frozen on seeing him and almost frozen by the bitter cold on this winter morning. And when I took a small step backward, he darted off. He raced through the garden, over the humble fence and was into the neighbour’s backyard … all in a matter of seconds.


It was the start of another cold December day. Half the people at the client’s office were on vacation. Just a few blokes like me who were not going anywhere far off for the Christmas holidays. I had just finished breakfast at the small family-run hotel where I was staying, and stepped out to be on my way to work.

And then seeing this squirrel in the garden brought back so many memories of the years past.
It took me to my school years, which was the last time I had seen squirrels at such close range — during summer vacation trips to my native place .. “The Summer of 79 … ~~ those were the best days of my life~” 🙂


It used to start with the wonderful 2 & 1/2 day journey all the way down south, courtesy Indian Railways. Like they say, there is as much fun in the journey as there is after reaching the destination … snacks, card-games & board-games, making new (but temporary) friends on the train, the sibling-fights to sit at the window seat

After reaching the ancestral family home, it was bliss. The most peaceful, happy, lazy days … time spent doing nothing, but still doing so much & enjoying. And all this getting a break from the dirt, heat and fast life back in the big, buzzing city.

Waking up in the morning at your own will … to the beautiful sounds of so many different birds. (All right … it was not exactly waking at your own will … all the kids were to wake up before the maid on the early morning shift came to clean all the rooms. And, I have heard bird sounds in the city too … but that was mostly only crows fighting)
To see all the squirrels darting across the courtyard, over trees. And occasionally on very early mornings, we even saw foxes, from the nearby hills, running across the “campus” around the house. This ‘campus’ was a mini-forest, thanks to the dense foliage and hundreds of trees.
The daily routine included a bath at the small pond, which was on-campus 🙂 and wonderful breakfast in the company of so many cousins (of all sizes & ages).

After that, we kids had options to choose from, as to how to use your time till lunch …
1. Inspecting the Mango trees to see if there were any ones fit to eat — Ripe ones would be eaten straight away. The green, raw ones would be handed over to one of the elders, along with a knife. These would be cut into tiny pieces. Meanwhile, someone would have already asked the kitchen-help servant to get a mixture of roasted chillies, salt & a few drops of oil. Then just dip the raw mango pieces in this “sauce” and enjoy !

2. Play cricket in the big courtyard — And play until some budding Kapil Dev hit a six into the bushes. In that case, search for the ball for a few minutes, admit that its lost and now go about doing option (1.)

3. Playing hide-and-seek inside the house — Given the size of the house, the numerous rooms on two levels, and the lack of proper lighting in some of the rarely used rooms, the first person who has to catch the others would take a pretty long time to find everyone. And by then, it would have been decided by a majority vote to change the game to something else.

4. One of the days (just once, in that whole month) was kept aside for an “All Cousins Hike” to one of the 3-4 hills nearby — Everyone gather whatever they can — mangoes, biscuits, fried-snacks, water-bottles — and walk/run to the top of the hill, enjoy the splendid view from the top, enjoy the snacks and walk back down.
(In those days, there were no digital cameras – to be able to click away all possible 237 views from the top. And children were not given the other cameras – too risky)

All of these activities had to strictly culminate by the lunch hour of 12 Noon. And obviously, after lunch, everyone just had to find his/her own favourite place for the pleasure of an afternoon-siesta.

By now, the few readers, who came here, have all gone off to sleep reading this long post.
And it is also time for my privileged afternoon-nap. Signing out today … but then … ” I’ll be backk … Hasta La Vista, Baby “