I share a love-hate relationship with winters. I love them at times; I hate them at other times. I love winters when the chill in the air does not insist on biting me to death, and when the atmosphere is not so morose as to creep one out. I love winters when I am wrapped up in a cosy woollen shawl or bundled up in jeans and a jacket, all warm and snug and happy.
Bangalore doesn’t have much of a winter, as I have seen in the four years I have been here. Compared to the bitter cold that I used to battle with in Ahmedabad, getting through the 30-degree-centigrade winters in Bangalore is a breeze. I don’t really need a jacket here, a light shawl will do for most of the winter months. Sometimes, I don’t even need a shawl. And to think that, in Ahmedabad, I used to be wrapped up like a fluff ball at all times of the day in winter! I never thought I would miss those times, but I do now.
I miss getting out my collection of shawls and sweaters and stoles and jackets and bandis for an airing as soon as we could see winter approaching, when it would start getting dark earlier than usual and a nip began to be felt in the usually warm air of early mornings and evenings. I miss getting confused over what colour of shawl or jacket would go best with my outfit every day, and then asking Amma for an opinion. I miss looking for different ways to wear my shawls and stoles, spending hours doing so.
I miss the slathering on of warm coconut oil or moisturising lotion after a long, leisurely bath with steaming hot water, which would invariably be taken in the afternoon as mornings would be too cold to bathe. I miss seeing Amma heating up hair oil to unfreeze it, and then sweetly massaging it into the pores of my hair. I miss debating with my friends and Amma over which moisturiser and lip balm to buy to tide me over the winter.
I miss gossipping with Amma and Patti as they shelled peas or cleaned palak or tandaljo or whatever green, leafy vegetable Appa got from the market every day. I miss debating whether that palak should get converted into palak paneer or soup or kootu for the evening’s dinner.
I miss the soups that Amma used to ceremoniously place on the dinner table every night, thanks to all the wonderful vegetables that were available in the market during winter. I miss gorging on undhiyu, steaming khaman, pizzas and paav bhaji to ward off the cold.
I miss taking gulps of extremely cold neera from the various kiosks set up all over Ahmedabad in winter, and then gasping.
I miss taking off with my friends to discover new outlets for Indo-Chinese food, which used to feel oh-so-good on chilly nights.
I miss snuggling under soft, soft, soft razais on the diwan in our living room to watch our usual serials on the telly, jostling wth Amma and Appa for space. I miss Appa making my bed – complete with razai and pillow and all – every night, so that it would be nice and warm by the time I slept after a bit of reading and TV watching.
I miss pulling off the monkey caps from Appa and Thatha’s heads, just for the perverse pleasure of making them feel the bitter cold on their exposed scalps. I miss hitting out at Appa when he insisted on placing his cold hands on my cheeks each time he returned home from his evening walk, to retaliate.
I miss stepping out on to my balcony with my cup of hot masala chai at 4 PM, which I strongly believe is the best time during winter months – there is just the right amount of cold and sunshine in the air at that time. I miss unwinding after my hectic college day with sips of chai, watching the traffic go by outside our apartment.
I miss the evening walks with Amma and my friends, where it was compulsory to get back home before it got too dark. I miss going to watch the Christmas decorations at our favourite church with Amma. I miss the late-morning walks to Law Garden with Appa, sometimes accompanied by breakfast at the snack lorry outside.
I miss seeing Thatha religiously take a tablespoon of Chyawanprash every day with his morning glass of milk, and his insisting that I have it too.
I miss the mid-morning ‘warm-up’ sessions with colleagues, standing under a huge tree just outside my office, letting the winter sun seep through our skins. I missing having fingers so numbed by cold that I would not be able to even use my computer keyboard for a good 15 minutes, immediately after reaching office.
I miss stealing a few blasts of hot air from the heater in Paati’s room in the evenings.
I miss the experimenting with a variety of perfumes before office on workdays, because I strongly believe that perfumes smell best in winter.
I miss pleading with Amma to let me sleep for 5 more minutes on extremely cold winter mornings, not wanting to get out of my razai, being pulled out by her, and then blinking my eyes open with great difficulty.
I miss seeing the bonfires that people used to make on the roads all over the city in the early mornings, and in the late evenings, to warm their hands.
I miss seeing maatla undhiyu cooking in our apartment complex.
I miss seeing the excitement in the air when Uttarayan was just around the corner, and the several shops selling kites and colourful thread across the city.
I miss gulping down big bowls of hot Maggi for dinner, stubbornly refusing to eat curd rice in the winters, as it sent chills down my spine.
I miss occasionally bunking college or office in winter, just because I wanted to snuggle up in a razai with a good book or watch a movie, sometimes carrying a hot water bag with me.
I miss watching the patterns that beams of sunlight made on the floor as they entered our living room from the balcony, on winter mornings.
I miss shopping for bottles of amla juice from road-side lorries, which would mushroom in the cold season.
I miss winters in Ahmedabad…. sigh!