Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dear Mediratta family.... thank you for the memories... the Munshaws.

I am at a point of life where so much is happening. New highs at home and at work, my kids growing up so very, very fast. And in all of this I often find myself overtaken by nostalgia. A seemingly innocuous incident or object will trigger a rush of memories and I just lose myself in reminiscences; a pleasant period of remembering the people and events that have enriched my life. 

Last night I had dinner with a few such people. Rajiv, Anju and Mohit Mediratta. As we celebrated Rajiv’s 48th birthday; at one point I sat back; looking around, there at that moment I was witnessing decades of togetherness, my heart full. This was the next chapter of the Munshaw-Mediratta family story. 

I am not really clear on how the Munshaw and the Mediratta families connected. I vaguely remember a story of how my Dad first did business with them, but then became friends at some point and stopped doing business because he did not do business with friends.

But the Medirattas are a large sprawling family – or more aptly a clan. When we first met, the family consisted of Big Mummy, the Matriarch, her 7 children and their families. Over the years, each branch of the family visited and parts of our families visited them. Our families formed strong bonds and were with each other in celebrations and sorrows. It did not matter if we were a world apart, the families would always be represented at weddings and deaths.

We are scattered all over the world now and most of us have not met in years but today I have been thinking of them all day. My first memory is of Big Daddy’s family arriving one day. I was 9 years old then. Through the fortnight they lived with us, we saw a side of our Dad that had never seen before. I think that day pretty much changed our childhoods.

I remember the Medi kids used to guzzle Thumbs Up and other aerated drinks that came to be called soda. So crates and crates of the stuff would be stocked up and we all had a free run of them while they were in residence. We went out on a whirlwind foodie tour of the then Bombay dining scene as Dad hosted lunches and dinners at all the iconic new eating spots along with the classics like Radio Club, China Garden, Copper Chimney and Mahesh Lunch Home. We rediscovered street food at Chowpatty, gorged on strawberries and cream and sitaphal ice cream at Bachelors, and also met the corner juicewalla. He had always peddled his wares from that corner but once he became a favourite of the Medis, there was a constant inflow of fresh juice and milkshake.

I don’t remember much else of that first visit, except that I was fascinated by one of the boys, something I was teased about painfully, for years after and still am on the rare occasions I cross paths with a Mediratta. (In the interests of maintaining maturity for all, I’m withholding names here. My siblings and his siblings may please note we are all grown up now and there are little ears all around!!)

But that first visit led to innumerable other trips that built this unique family bond. Our lives have been enriched with the most wonderful memories any kids can have. And these are the stories that we will one day tell our grand children. Of adventures in Africa and the UK, and childhood capers that we still laugh over.

I will never forget the happy times we had at the big Mediratta house with its wonderful TV room and loads of wonderful playmates. Swimming, sitting in the sauna, swimming some more, running wild through the house and the sprawling lawns. Arti Bhabhi’s awesome cooking, watching Shashi aunty get dressed for parties, slightly in awe of her glamour, gossiping with Tipi Chachi, snuggling in front of the TV with Raj and Mani Chahchi.

Huge, huge meals from breakfast to dinner. I have fond memories of Johnny, the Kenyan chef, whipping up glasses of thick lassi to wash down breakfasts of parathas, jeera aloo and katki mango pickles. Mani Chachi’s mushroom soup, Shashi Aunty’s roast chicken. Large leisurely lunches and dinners particularly at Carnivore, with groups of family so HUGE you could not see the other end of the table!

Giggling over silly things with Anjani, Aditi, and Nimmo. Nicknaming Manu, Mutua number 2 because he insisted on wearing pajamas with holes in them, teasing Mutua and Wanbua. Codenaming condoms ‘chewing gum’ so we could crack adult jokes in front to the littler kids. And that wonderful midnight feast one night when the adults were out and we invaded the kitchen. When Pavan Mediratta concocted his never-to-be-forgotten, half boiled egg garnished with much hilarity. And adorable little Jitin, whom everybody doted on. (You are still my favorite Medi, Jitin!!)
And then there were the adventures; tasting my first champagne on the slopes of Limuru with Big D, Mom and a bunch of kids, discovering passion fruit on the buffet of Mt. Kenya Safari club on a visit with Shokee Daddy. And OMG! Jay Medirattas horse ride when he dropped his ‘strings’ and panicked on our first horse ride! That epic trip to Mombasa when we discovered water slides and chili dusted cassava and Manu Mediratta flashed Ritika with his ‘hot body.’

And many, many safaris in the Masai Mara, Nakuru and Shabba that ignited a passion for Africa in all of us that has never really faded….

Last night’s dinner saw a comparatively modest group at the table compared to the vast gatherings of our families in the past. And we were all so much older. My brother and sister in law had replaced my Dad and Mom at this new gathering, my Mom was now the ‘Big Mummy’. And Rajiv’s son was 21! When did that happen? I can still vividly remember Rajiv and Anju’s engagement 23 odd years ago!!!

But then I will be 40 this year. And at this new table I was the older generation, with the newest Mrs. Munshaw, my nephew Harsh’s wife Disha sitting next to me.  Sometimes the passing of time is so very finite. All evening I had a strange melancholy in me for those that were not present at the table, but just as strong was a quiet warmth of happiness and the promise of the next generation bonding...
It's special... being part of a larger whole without actually belonging but just becoming.....

Dear Mediratta Family, thank you for all the memories. Love, Rushina and the Munshaws

And now that you know the story of the family, here is a recipe from our trips to Kenya that’s part of my book ‘A Pinch of This, A Handful of That’. Make it and celebrate those friendships that have no explanations but span generations.

Nairobi Butter Tawa Prawns (Pg 84 )

Whenever we traveled to Nairobi, my father would time it so we arrived on a Wednesday and carry a large bag of a special consignment for the men of the Mediratta family, the family friends we stayed with in Nairobi. King prawns on dry ice. And the very same day, there would be a men’s only Karaoge night by the poolside where these would be slow cooked on a 3” tawa over charcoal heat. As kids we managed to sneak in and steal a bite or two that were tastier because of it!
Time: 30 minutes + 30 minutes for marination
Serves: 6 to 7 portions
1kg King prawns, off the shell 125gms Ginger, grated 250gms Garlic, chopped 1tsp Turmeric powder Salt to taste 500gms Butter 1tbsp Peppercorns, cracked ½ cup Green chilies, chopped ½ cup Coriander leaves, chopped Juice of 2 limes
Garnish: Lime slices Finely chopped green chilies
Method: Clean the prawns, devein and wash well. Drain and pat dry. Combine 1 tbsp each of the ginger, garlic and turmeric with the salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add the prawns and mix, till well coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Melt butter on a tawa/ frying pan, add the peppercorns, green chilies and the rest of the garlic and ginger and stir-fry till fragrant. Add the prawns and cook till they just curl and turn pink. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and lime juice over the prawns. Serve the prawns with lime slices and sprinkle green chilies on top to add a splash of colour.

1 comment:

Rajeev Mediratta said...

Brilliantly written Rushina, well done for capturing and bringing out the memories. Rajeev