Palm trees, candy floss skies and fresh breeze – there’s little that comes close to nature’s artistry. Growing up in Delhi, I was always envious of my Mumbai-born cousin, not least because she lived across from Marine Drive. After all, waking up to a promenade flanked by the Arabian Sea and rows of palm trees is a luxury not many can lay claim to.
From the long walks along the boulevard sipping on nariyal pani (coconut water), to the customary pit stop at Chowpatty beach - every summer spent there remains etched in my memory.
Delhi, on the other hand, offers neither the serene views of a coastline nor the soothing shade of palm trees. Thankfully, there’s still nariyal.
To say that we Indians love coconuts would be a gross understatement. Because coconuts are basically everywhere in one form or another – in our food, skin and hair care products and religious ceremonies. In fact, the name of the Indian state Kerala literally translates to ‘Land of Coconut Trees.’ The truth is, we are loco about the coco.
My earliest, yet not the fondest memories of coconut go back to mom’s Saturday session of hair massage or champi. Getting me to hair oil was an uphill task; but none of that cringing and whining worked with mom. Today, I am grateful for her persistence, for laying the foundations for an effective hair care regimen.
When it came to food however, I never needed any convincing. Dad and I made coconut barfi on Diwali every year, a tradition that he unfailingly insisted on. Truth be told, it’s the only delicacy dad had inherited from grandmother and was overly eager to hand it down to his then teenage daughter. Mom, on the other hand, is a culinary genius and whipped up everything that packed a serious coconut punch - from chutney to curry and butter to bread.
As I grew older, another coco-tradition came into being. While dad and I still make our annual barfi, every once in a while we catch up over Pina Coladas and the Beatles. Everything under the sun is discussed, life lessons are shared and lofty travel plans are made. When my cousin is visiting, she joins in as well. In her opinion, the cocktail tastes just as good in Delhi summers as they do under the palm trees. Well, we agree to disagree.