Jagmeeta Thind Joy
IT was a sweltering month of May. I was a lanky 13-year- old on a summer break visiting the paternal grandparents in Patiala. The annual summer ritual had an exciting twist that year. A cousin had decided to get married to an NRI for whom the only dates available to tie the knot were in June. And so began the frenzied shopping trips. The bride’s trousseau had to be put together, jewellery had to be decided on, the ‘milni’ blankets (so what if it was summer) had to be purchased in bulk, the cards had to be finalised et al. All this entailed innumerable trips to the market. In this case, the grand old Adalat Bazaar of Patiala.
The heat was menacing but we had a trusted Fiat Padmini at our disposal that managed to fit in all the ladies of the house and me. I had the privilege of being the only girl cousin around and had got a sort of all-access pass to all the shopping trips. It helped that I spoke less, was an eager helper to carry the shopping bags and the bride always had someone to talk to when her mother disapproved of a choice. But the real joy came in not the shopping per se but the complete experience. Here’s how it would go.
We would arrive at one of the stores the moment the shutters went up and would be greeted by an eager sales staff. Once plonked on the chairs/cushioned bench/customised seating, the salesman would begin showcasing his best. But not before he had ordered ‘espresso’ for the ladies and ice-cold cola for the ‘baby’ (yes, me). Baby was always thrilled. These were times when not all shops boasted of air-conditioning. A few selections down, the shop owner would take things in his own hands. ‘Bhenji, Jaggi ton samose mangavan? (Sister, should I order samosas from Jaggi?) My aunts would crinkle up their noses saying something like the paranthas for breakfast were really filling. The shop owner would not take no for an answer and soon piping hot and super crunchy samosas would arrive in small steel plates, doused in a delicious sweet chutney. It was just the thing (read boost) you needed to choose the emerald green crepe-de- chine salwar kameez over the powder blue one. Baby would also get a second shift of the cola.
Laden with bags, we would move on to the next store. It didn’t matter what we were buying, the food never disappointed and never stopped coming. Fresh off the stove aloo tikkis, papri chaat, samosas, patties, white-bread sandwiches, freshly squeezed juice …it was a treat. The delight on my face when the jeweller offered a packet of hot and just-popped popcorn from the corner shop was unmistakable. It was a truly memorable holiday.
Summer vacations are on again. My nine-year- old daughter accompanies me for a short trip to my parents in Patiala. The ancestral home is long gone. A SUV is at our disposal for trips to Adalat Bazaar and the famed `22 number phatak’ shopping area. We step into a shop looking for breezy summer fabrics. The shop owner takes charge and rolls out the new arrivals including a few Pakistani ‘exclusives’. My daughter eyes her grandmother’s smartphone as she knows mine is off limits. It’s the shopkeeper’s cue. ‘Bhenji, baby de layee juice yaan Coke mangavan?’ (Sister, should I order juice or coke for baby). Baby is thrilled. We shop, a lot, but not before sampling the aloo patties from the famed bakery a few stores away. My daughter wants to know when we are going next. Oh Baby!