“Winter is coming!!!” everyone who is fan of one of the most popular V series/novel , Game of Thrones, knows this sentence very well. 4 seasons have gone by and winter is yet to come. Nevertheless, people have not lost interest and they are still waiting and preparing for the next season. Not just in this fantasy novel turned TV series, winter gets the same attention in regular life as well. People start talking about winters well in advance. Some will prepare winter clothes, some check their heating systems and for some it means checking winter tyres or enough salt to manage snow. For sure, it is not valid across the globe. Some places like Chennai, India are known only for 3 weather types ; hot, hotter and hottest.
Every winter, I have heard my friends and colleagues saying, how they hate winters, how summers are so good with sun shine and long days. I never had much to contribute to this stream of angry or worrisome thoughts about winter. I just simply listen to them complaining about. If I was every asked to share my feeling, I would simply say, I do not know, I kind of like winter. I do not know why I like winter. I mostly heard me saying that I love to walk on fresh snow, I like the freshness in the air after snow, I like the fog coming out of mouth. However, snow is something I saw for the 1st time in 2006, when I was working in Toronto, Canada. When I reached I was given all kind of advices and scary messages against winter. Yes, it was damn cold at -30 degrees, that I had never experienced before. After Canada, I had a chance to work in Basel, Switzerland and now in Munich, Germany. Both see good winter. For some reason I always liked it. Why? this had always been a mystery.
Recently, while talking to one of my friend on Skype, this topic came up again. as usual poor winter was being abused. It went on for some time. How summer is beautiful and winter kills the excitement. As usual my turn came to express my feelings about winter. Somehow and for some reason, I did not give my standard response. My response, surprised myself. I think that day I realised why I like winter.
I grew up at a place, where we see Spring, Autumn, Rains, Summer and Winter. All seasons every year. Summer could go to 45-48, while winter will bring temperature to 5 degrees. For couple of days even lower. Our house did not have any central heating and we did not have electric heaters in those days. Everything that you would touch will be cold. Chair that you sit in, cloths that you pick to wear, bed that you would go to sleep in, door knob or the tap. Everything tells you that it is winter. We used to wear winter clothes all the time; in the house or outside house. Winter was omnipresence. Unlike today, when I am sitting in my room in shorts, while temperature outside is 2 degrees. So why was that winter so enjoyable, so interesting so memorable to make me like winters?
Beginning of winter meant beginning of festive season. We start with Dusshera, the day of victory of Good on Evil. With market full of sweets and crackers and excitement climaxed with a big firework show in local grounds. 20 days later the biggest festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated. This marks return of Lord Rama after many years of exile fight against daemon King Ravana. For me it meant getting new clothes, buying sweets, toys and firing lots of firecrackers. My cousins and we brothers used to make electric decoration for our house and also light candles in our house. Soon follows Guru Nanak gurpurab; yet another celebration and occasion for firing crackers. Soon is the time for “Global New year” that brings couple of holidays at school. It was followed by Lohri in January. Festival that brings bonfire, songs, sharing of sweets and food among people. At night people in family and around the street will get together around bonfire, chat in cold while enjoying he warmth of fire. Finally the festival season comes to end with beginning of Vasant, beginning of Spring. I used to buy kites and make my own kites as well. Whole day, I will stay at roof flying kites. My mother would cook special dishes for the occasion. They were all supplied at roof not to disturb my kite flying excitement. So many things to look forward to in winter. Why would I hate/dislike it? But is this all? Is this event based excitement is the only reason I like winters? It turns out that I had some more to look forward to it.
|Time to fight with kites|
Winter also meant that our rooms are cold. Bed sheets, quilts could give you an experience of winter chill. One has to persist sitting in a single pose for some time, before body heat slowly makes it comfortable to sit/sleep. As the days are short, it meant that family come together early. We would have our early dinner in the kitchen. This way we used the heat of cooking and also avoided bread and curries to get cold due to transfer from kitchen to rooms/dining table. My mother would keep hot chapatis, that would come to my plate straight from oven. i would hold those in my hands to warm myself. We also had a portable fireplace that we used light in kitchen. It was used to warm jaggery to eat at after dinner sweet along with other winter sweets. After dinner we would take the portable fireplace to the master bedroom. All 4 of us will sit together in one quilt. This helped to make it warm faster. Peanut is the fruit of winter. After dinner time, was the time to sit together, watch some TV, talk about the day and eat peanuts. We will keep big newspaper in centre of the bed to keep the shells. Many times, my parents would help to warm our bedsheets/quilts by using collective body heat before they go to their bed again. New year night was the night when we were allowed to watch TV for long time. As there used to some special new year entertainment programs prepared. They used to run from 2000-0000 mid night. We will all sit together, talking, watching, laughing and eating in he company of each other.
Today, things have changed, winters are short, we live at different places, in fact different countries. Even when we are together, there are many things to do that keep us out late, there are heaters available, internet takes away the family time. All these slowly penetrated in ur lives and we did not realise the winter used to be. But for me, winter defined that togetherness, that feeling of sharing and caring, that laughter, that bond of family for me. How can I not like winter after all!!!
I am not saying that everyone should start liking winter. At times winters are too harsh. my only view is that everything has a certain purpose. We appreciate warmth of summer only when feel coldness of winter. Both are required to complement each other. We need to accept both with a smile and cherish the moments.