Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hazy Shades of Winter

It’s winter again in Delhi. Time for gajjar halwa, peanuts and chikkis. Lots of Dilliwallahs just love winter – probably because they have some cause celebre, such as weddings and season-end parties. People also love to bring out their winter clothes from mothballs and flaunt them. It’s time for the silks, black suits, thermals and lehngas, shawls, mufflers and even overcoats.
There’s something very ceremonious about the season. People have to pull out their winter clothes, get the blankets back from the dry cleaners and silks and woollens out of the mothballs. It’s time for the morning fogs that disrupts flights and trains and chilly winds in the evening. But also time for weddings, parties and concerts. There are outdoor parties too where people huddle near charcoal stoves that are provided. Fresh colourful veggy salads, and kebabs are the favourite snacks that are circulated at the parties. It’s time for the hot chicken soup too and basking out in the golden afternoon sun. All of Delhi’s parks and even little islands of greenery have people sitting out, taking breaks from office or homes to just sit out in the sun and perhaps peel and eat oranges. For kids there are the picnics at Delhi’s sprawling gardens. At home, its time to roll-out the carpets and turn on the heaters.
I find that every year for the last three years, winter has brought a death – of a near and dear one. Many years ago, back in college, reading the Romantic poets had been about the symbolism of seasons where winter was symbolic of death and destruction. But when one has to grapple with reality, dealing with death is far more painful than accepting the change of seasons where winter will be followed by spring – the season for regeneration and rebirth. Again in Delhi, winter is also a time to plan trips to the monuments that surround us – Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Purana Qila and Humayun’s Tomb. It’s the season when the ruins almost come alive in the background of the mellow sun and chilly mornings. TV, meanwhile, has visuals of Srinagar and Manali where snowfall is attracting hordes of holidaymakers from Delhi. There’s big time Christmas shopping too for cakes, candy and decorations – Khan Market is crowded with expats, well-heeled Delhiites, diplomats and even young college students – everyone’s looking for cakes, fruits, exotic veggies and fruits and even smart clothes – the new Autumn-Winter selections! The Kebab corners, not surprisingly, are drawing the largest crowds. Everyone’s packing their shopping bags with dry fruits too – Delhiites cant imagine their winter evenings without the kajus, kishmish, almonds, pistachios and walnuts conveniently served in tiny bowls probably with the sundowners. There are the very delicious and exotic chilgoza or pine-nuts too. And then there are the foggy mornings which are braved by walkers encompassed by their shawls and overcoats – wearing caps, socks and even gloves. This season there was the Italian Opera in the backdrop of the awesome Purana Qila – an awesome performance! Vacation time for kids is also time for parents to plan vacations – overall winter in Delhi is a season that’s a feast for the senses.

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