Winter is my favourite time. Though I know we have no winter here in this city, and though I also know that those who do have a real winter, like the Delhiites are going through now, will scoff at my seemingly false claim.
But please let me explain myself. Winter, to me, has something of romance in it.
I think it must be those Christmas cards that one received from schoolmates as a child, with pictures of snow capped mountains that were touched with silver glitter, or of the Christ child in his crib, with a shine-speckled star sparkling against a blue sky, that first spun the magic.
Maybe it was my visits to the New Market in Calcutta where as the early touch of chill fogged the roads, the place took on a festive air for the X’Mas season and the New Year ahead.
Or maybe it is the fact that winter means one can wear warm layers and gloves and boots, all of which to me mean being different from the person one normally is through the rest of the year. Winter also means silk saris and smart jackets, and watching one’s breath as it curls in the air in front of the face.
More important is the fact that wherever we are in India, winter brings with it a slant of light in the afternoons. There is a time between three and four when suddenly the harshness of the sun dims, and the rays slant at 45 degree angles.
I wish then I was light enough to lean on one such ray, and float on the sumbeam… that’s the power that slant of light has on the imagination.
And winter brings its own delights in the fresh looks the plants wear as they dress up in flowers of many colours. Even my tiny garden in this city looks happier, and there is a profusion of blue bells smiling at me from the creeper that hangs from the tree outside my window.
The birds in my colony like winter, too. The koel who has been silent for months, making me wonder if he is gone, is singing his mating song again, and the squirrels are busy scuttling up and down, tails in the air, as they chase one another in games that last through the day.
Winter is when college days were fun, with annual days letting the pressure up, and giving us a chance to sing and dance and dress up like we were very important people. Somehow the feeling of cheer one felt as teenagers seems to come back every winter: a memory that is not quite explained.
Winter is great for open air gatherings, music soirees, barbeque evenings, or for huddling over bonfires…
And, of course, there are ghost stories to be told as the shadows grow longer. And there is nothing to match the wonderful caress of sitting cosy on a soft reclining chair, munching on a hot snack and reading, while a fire crackles in the fireplace… though today’s concern about burning wood makes it necessary to prefer the less interesting option of an electric fire.
Of course winter is not a kind time, but then neither is a heat wave, or for that matter a harsh downpour in the monsoon months.
And though the monsoon can bring its own magic, and spring is the season most poets sing loud and long about, give me winter any day.
So all ye who have not noticed the charms of the season, unwrap yourselves from in front of the TV set, put on your walking shoes and step out to greet the Bombay winter.
I am afraid otherwise it will be gone before you notice it was here!