Coming of Winter

Touchwood this year Mumbai has what can be called a winter.
So while it’s here:
Enjoy the water rushing out of taps that chills your hands when you get up in the morning, reluctant to move out of the cosy confines of the blanket. You splash it on your face where it tingles the skin and prises open your eyes. Nothing can wake you up faster- or better.
Enjoy the bracing morning walks, as you see the colourful woollens carefully unwrapped from their long hiatus, the bright turqoiuse cardigan, the perky magenta muffler, the delicate ikat printed burgundy shawl, and for some, even a monkey cap thrown on to complete the winter look.
As you walk, the wind whips your open face, massages it with sharp strokes into your tousled hair, egging you on to walk faster so that your body generates some warmth – like a warm chocolate muffin soaked in vanilla ice cream.
Enjoy the few extra moments you give yourself in the shower, at once reluctant to leave its warm embrace, and yet, strangely, looking forward to the onslaught of cold waves that jab and envelope you the instant you step out.

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Enjoy the sight of red noses glued to the closed window panes of school buses on misty early mornings; the crackling bonfires made from scraps of wood at street corners when darkness descends, a medley of hands held out to catch the warmth of the hissing flames as they fly outward, sharing a camaraderie after a long day hard day of manual labour; the birds fluffing their wings against the twilight drafts of cold breeze. It’s time to burrow into our nests, they seem to say with a twinkle in their beady eyes.
Enjoy the fragrances of the kitchen as you escape into it to seek the warmth wafting out of the stove, your red cheeks finding colourful company in the strawberry jam cooking in the pan, the sharp, tangy aroma of hand picked luscious fruit filling the surrounding as the juicy pulp bubbles and boils, leaving a lingering fresh, sweet aroma on your fingers. You stir and inhale the flavoured strawberry warmth just as a crisp evening breeze slides in through the kitchen window and carries this whiff to other homes, other spaces around you.
The breeze stokes the flames, turning it into a soft red, quite like the long lush carrots that arrive only in winter- those that create the perfectly moist gajar halwa, hot off the gas, sprinkled with raisins and cashews, oozing out home made ghee from the sides. Eat it hot, the sweetness searing through your tongue, warming you within, as it rests like a welcome duvet on your palate, in your tummy.
Savour the winter. Enjoy its spell, like love, while it lasts.

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