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May 15, 2006

Nilla Choru (Dinner Under the moon light)

When my husband and I were going for a walk at night, I happened to look at the clear sky with the bright moon shining upon us and stars twinkling away. I immediately remembered the time we used to go on vacation to our village called Chinatamani (near Tenkasi, Tamilnadu).

We are from a large family and hence had almost 14 to 15 kids minimum in the house at one time. It was a large palatial bungalow and for the elders it was a chore just getting us together to have our dinner. Our parents wanted us to have dinner first and then wanted to savor and enjoy theirs. They used to cook a whole lot of rice in the morning and the left over rice would be soaked in cold water, a little bit of yogurt, salt, hing, curry leaves and coriander. My grandma used to let it sit in a clay pot so that it stays cool.

At night, she would add a little more of yogurt and have us all sit around her under the moonlight in a huge circle. She would sit in the middle and make balls of the rice and place it on the palm of our hands. To go with the rice, ripe mangoes from our groves, some pappadum, some chutney. All of us who fussed to eat would be competing with the others. Even before my grandma finished one round we would have our arms stretched for more. To go along with stories about our dad or uncles and sometimes fictitious stories. My older cousins sometimes made up ghost stories to scare us all.

Soon cousins went in to college or started working and then my parents became grand parents. When my nephews and niece came home for vacation, my mom did the same thing. All the kids carried one item at a time to our terrace and my mom or dad fed us with food and stories or just talked and joked around.

I am sure a lot of you would have experienced what I just mentioned. It was such a joyous occasion, yet so simple. It is these simple get togethers with no frills and fancies that are engraved in our minds forever.

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