Welcoming Winter

Welcoming Winter

Winter it is.. finally. However here in 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, perhaps.

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 shouting 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

There’s nothing like a North Indian winter to teach you the fantastic camaraderie between a bonfire, roasted peanuts and hot chilie garlic chutney. That sounds just 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, to be half heartedly 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 lazy mornings. He’d weigh it out and hand it to us in 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 through 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.

And there were other pleasures..

Snuggling into huge heavy cotton quilts with a hot water bottle when temperatures fell.

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. I’ll go now fish out my woollens, dress up to the T, and go to meet winter in all it’s glory.

17 Replies to “Welcoming Winter”

  1. Just yesterday I was telling the husband about the balu wali moongphali that I miss having here. And that chutney we used to call namak. Sharp and spicy it was a delight to eat. So many gorgeous winter foods that make an appearance in the North are missed here in the South. Though I think I prefer the pleasant cold of Bangalore to that of Lucknow and other cities of UP from my childhood. Nostalgia!

  2. You make winters sound so cozy and warm and fuzzy! They’re suposed to be cold 😀

    I think that the fact that so many of our memories are intertwined with family, the warmth just makes up for everything else. Also, your family (current and old) are always a delight to read about. Such fun people 🙂

    1. Thanks Shailaja. I’ve been just too nostalgic these past few days. Going home only once a year, and that in the summer, the worst time ever, is just not enough.

  3. You really don’t know how lucky you have it… I studied in Pune for 3 years and I miss the cold winters there. I realise it’s probably not as much as the North is but for someone coming from Kerala where it is non-existent , winter was a delight. Seriously, in Kerala if you wear a sweater people will think you’re mad 🙂

    1. Ha ha I know some of this. Long back we had a conference in Lucknow in January and despite the warnings people from Chennai turned up in sleeveless sweaters! My mom emptied her cupboards that year lending sweaters and shawls to all the women. Pune is just not cold enough. But I guess something is better than nothing.

  4. I don’t really enjoy winters and right now in Secundrabad I am enjoying mild winters but your post made me nostalgic for Delhi 🙂 Winter has its own charm.

  5. OMG the first few sentences sounded just like me about the Bangalore winter. It's been about closing doors and windows, and wondering if I've got old to be feeling the cold so much more :).

  6. Oh you made me so so nostaligic.. Being from lucknow I could live and every line you wrote… malai makhan , the smell of fog, the sunshine, the guavas on the terrace, the ground nut sessions in the quits..i miss each bit of it

  7. Shilpa.. Yessss gur and besan roti, gajar halwa.. Must make some of that. Food is SUCH an integral part of our memories, isn't it? Even I feel very very cold.

  8. I am not a winter fan because I feel soooo cold all the time. But this year, it visited us just yesterday and even I was missing them. Glad that the winters have finally arrived. Love the winter food. Saag and makki ki roti with gur, revariyaan and chikki, moongfali on the terrace in the afternoon, gajar ka halwa and yes, bonfires in the evening especially at a party.

  9. Kalpana.. Mumbai hardly has winter.. Enjoy it while it's around.

    Jairam.. That's the benefit of cribbing.. I end up finding the silver lining.

    Magiceye.. Thank you.

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