As April approaches, temperatures in Pune begin flirting the 40º C mark. But the sweltering heat also brings with it some very familiar sights. There are mango stalls on every corner, as are the “barf gola” people. Naral Pani walas are everywhere. And my favourite of them all, foothpaths and roadsides lined with mountains of watermelon. When I was in art school in Pune, college used to let out at 1:15 p.m. A sweet spot during the day in the summer months when the tar on the roads has just begun to melt, but it’s nowhere are hot as it’ll be at 4:00 p.m. As I traveled from my college on Tilak Rd to my residence on Law College Rd, I passed MES college on Karve Rd. Outside MES college was a watermelon vendor with atl east a 25 metre long wall of melons lined up against the college walls all the way up to the main gate. And just next to the main gate stood his watermelon slice cart. A small cart with blocks of ice that was stacked in steps which were in turn lined with red rexine cloth. The top of the steps was reserved for a photo of Balkrishna that had clearly seen better days. 3 remaining tiers were lined with wedges of juicy red watermelon in ascending order. Rs 1.50 would fetch you the biggest wedge, which at times was as big as the wheel of a scooter. It was just what was needed on a summer day as a buffer between college and a nice home cooked lunch. Sliced into pieces and served on a weathered plastic plate it really hit the spot. And as if that wasn’t enough, it was dusted lightly with pepper and salt. And of course, you could always take home a whole melon if you so desired. Simple pleasures, good times!
2 cups Seedless Watermelon cubed, preferably cold
1 Tsp Feta Cheese
6 Black Olives sliced
10 Mint leaves crushed
1 tsp Orange Zest
1 tsp extra virgin Olive oil
Place all ingredients except cheese and oil in a bowl
Sprinkle the cheese and drizzle the oil over it
Toss the salad gently and serve.