Australia is truly a sun-burnt country. Our summer is one of the things that defines us. It is what brings the Europeans to us with their enormous backpacks and sun-starved skin, to mingle with us on our beaches and in our hostels. It is holidays, picnics, swims and post-swim ice-creams.
It is gloriously long days filled with sunshine that fade gently into lingering dusks and balmy evenings, just in case the day’s feeling are hurt by a sudden transition.
Summer comes hot on the heels of Diwali and Halloween and brings with it Christmas and the ultimate night to let one’s hair down after all that holiness……New Years Eve. Even our Christmas cards are adorned with Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, as if even paper Santa can’t stand to wear his usual outfit in this scorching heat. And after all that is over, there is still the rest of summer to look forward to.
Summer is lovely Saturdays spent doing Saturday things and then realising with stomachs grumbling and light still pouring in the window that inexplicably, dinnertime has arrived.
It is weekends away and weekends in watching the cricket. It is barbecues, ice-blocks and hopefully, slip slop slap. It is too many mosquitoes, too much champagne and too dark tan lines.
I love the sun, sand and waves as much as the next girl, but I have to admit I’m not really a beach person. Not in the typical sun-baking, volleyball playing, bikini clad way anyway. Evening walks on the beach? Sure! Being toasted to a crisp? No thanks! Besides, like many Indian girls, I am far too interested in preserving my complexion to spend hours in the sun.
For me, one of the highlights of the summer is all the incredible fruit that seems to appear in the hotter Australian months. I will never forget that childhood summer when we returned to Sydney after a family holiday to find that my uncle had filled the fridge with gorgeous fruit. Now that was a sight for sore (jet-lagged) eyes.
Cherries that obligingly dissolve in your mouth, sold by the boxful from the back of utes by the side of highways. Watermelon that is instantly revitalising and refreshing. Rockmelons with their fragrant, meaty flesh.
And the Mangoes…..ohhhhh the Mangoes! The cool weight of them when they are taken out of the fridge. The impossible sweetness of that first good mango of the season. Eaten with their cheeks sliced off, cut into small symmetrical pieces by my dad or devoured uninhibitedly with teeth tearing golden skin, Australian mangoes have to be one of the best parts of summer.
So expect some summery fruitiness to come. And to those of you who are fortunate enough to live in this sun-blessed patch of the globe, happy summer!