Aug 30, 2015

We all have our talents and Mr. S.S’s talent is finding new places. It’s almost end of summer and we are still looking for new places to bathe and grill. When he suggests Hopatkong, we all readily agree. Why would anyone not want to go to Hopatkong. It’s called Hopatkong, isn’t that reason enough?

hopotcong state park2Hopatkong turns out to be an almost perfect summer spot. It has a grassy slope for a picnic area, a play area and a shallow portion of a lake cordoned off for swimming. We instantly regret not have come here earlier in the season. Today’s menu is uber fun too. We are going to be grilling pineapples and watermelon slices. We also have poached peaches and strawberries. The poached peaches have their own story. Last week, I stepped into a pizza parlour in Brooklyn and noticed the peach tree in the backyard. The boughs of the tree were heavy with low hanging fruit, but scarcely anyone even gave it a look. Few days ago I went back and poached myself a few of those delicious peaches.

hopotcong state parkIn (parts of north) India around this same time, they celebrate a festival called Haryali Teej. This is the time of year when a brief monsoon brings the land respite from the blistering heat of summer. Fields and forests turn blessed green. It’s not surprising therefore that the festival, celebrated on the third day of the first fortnight of the month of Shravan, is called “haryali” “teej”, literally translated as “green” “third”.

hopotcong state park1Legend has it that the Goddess Parvati, as a young girl once lost her heart Lord Shiva. Shiva, being an austere ascetic barely registered her presence, much less her love.  She vowed she would have him and performed such rigorous penance that heaven and earth were shaken. Each time she died she would take birth again and resume her penance with renewed fervour.  She took birth on earth 108 times before he took her as his wife on this very day. Hariyali Teej is therefore an occasion which mixes giddy Mills & Boons romance with burning Wuthering Heights passion and defines an eternal bond of love and togetherness.

In an imitation of the goddess, it is common for women to observe a demanding fast, which involves going with food or water till moonrise.

Collages12Teej is also the festival of swings. Dark rain clouds, cool breeze and the smell of wet earth put romance right in the air. Beautifully decorated swings are hung from trees for the womenfolk to enjoy. Swings are swung and songs are sung. A specially delectable sweet called ghewar is prepared for the celebrations. *Zuckerschnautzchen!

*Zuckerschnautzchen – go figure! hint hint – it’s German

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