Welcoming Winter

Winter it is.. finally. However here in Pune, this quiet Western part of India, it hardly comes to stay. Even so, I find myself disliking it more and more. I never was a winter person and have gotten worse over the years. Age is catching up, maybe.

I go around shutting doors and windows, yet it makes sure to find that one window I forget to shut and comes rushing right in. I find myself yelling at the kids to wear chappals and jackets. I find myself secretly wishing they wouldn't go down to play. I am reluctant to go down for my evening walk. I have to admit though, that when I do go, I quite like the little nip in the air which is all we can boast of here.

The kids don't seem to mind the cold at all, don't seem to even notice it. 'Was I ever like this?' I wonder. Like I said I never was a winter person but there are some things about it that I truly loved. Here are a few..

The bonfires
For instance there's nothing like a North Indian winter to teach you the fantastic camaraderie between a bonfire, roasted peanuts and hot chili garlic chutney. Heck! That sounds so Chinese.. Let me put it this way - Lehsun aur mirch ki chutney - that's more like it. What a cosy threesome that is. We'd sit around shelling peanuts, eating and chatting for ages by the light of the bonfire. How we loved watching the fire flare up when we threw in a bunch of peanut shells only to be half heatedly reprimanded by our mum or dad.

Makkhan malai
Then there was Lucknow's own answer to the videshi souffle - the fluffy, frothy, light as air makkhan malai that would melt in your mouth. It was such a Sunday ritual for us. We'd wait for the bhaiyya to come around on those lazy mornings. He'd weigh it out and hand it to us on earthenware plates. We'd compare for ages who'd got more, not believing for a moment that 100 gms had to be the same on each plate. One of my more enterprising cousins would shamelessly ask the bhaiyya for an additional dollop and, to the chagrin of the rest of us, he was never disappointed.

The sunshine
And of course there's the sunshine. Winter in Lucknow came with the warmest sunshine ever. We'd lay out a rug on the grass in our garden and settle down with a book for long hours of lazy reading. The asparagus creeper would be in full bloom and it gave out a sweet sickly scent that seemed to be a huge hit with the flies. They came in hordes and hung around the creeper all the time it bloomed. Their buzzing had an oddly soporific effect. That and the warm sun would make sure the book fell aside within the hour and we were lulled into the most delicious sleep ever.

There were other pleasures too like 
- Snuggling into huge heavy cotton quilts with a hot water bottle when the temperatures fell. It was the best ever.
- The thrill of waking up in the morning and wondering whether it was still night. How grown up I felt!
- The delicious smell of fog.. quite like that of the first rain showers. 
- Coming from school and mum handing over freshly ironed still warm clothes to wear. Bliss!
- Blowing 'smoke' from imaginary cigarettes. We would try for hours to form rings like we'd seen the villain doing in the 70s flicks. The rings never came but the 'smoke' was fun enough.

I do miss all of that. Maybe winter wouldn't be such a bad idea if I stopped trying to shut it out. Now that's an idea! I'm off then folks.. to fish out my woollens, dress up to the T, and go to meet winter in all it's glory.

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