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Urban Junkie

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oranges in the sun

I always, always miss Delhi in winter. Winter’s a wonderful time to be in Delhi … and Delhi is a wonderful place to be in, in winter. Despite having grown up there, this is possibly the only time of the year I find such nostalgia surfacing for the city.

Think about it. Who could argue with the contentment of long afternoons in the elusive sunshine, ploughing through half a dozen oranges? The sumptuous satisfaction of aloo parathas laden with melting butter? Burrowing deep into the 10 kilo quilt and sleeping late into the freezing morning? Hot buttered rum to take to bed? Chikkis with tea … and gajar ka halwa? And oh, the illicit pleasure of bringing the quilt into the living room on a chilly afternoon and curling up on the sofa. I’m not sure what is illicit about this … but where a nighttime quilt on the bed seems warm, wholesome and motherly, an afternoon quilt on the sofa totally spells wicked indulgence.

I notice at this point that most of my winter reminisces have to do with feeding the body or resting it. I can only say in my defense that winter is a time for doing precisely this. The body slows down in winter (my grandma used to say) and it must be treated gently. The body also dries out … it creaks and groans and freezes over … and must be coaxed back to life with richly sinful food. Butter and ghee are the operative words here.

Amen to that. Does one need a better reason to love winter?

The strange thing is, the images that evoke the most wistful pangs are usually of things that I never actually do, even when I’m in Delhi. I spent the last three years there, and not once did I sit on the terrace and eat an orange … even though that remains my most enduring memory of winter. Between workdays that began at 9 – much before the sun crept out over the fog – and ended at 7 when it was already pitch dark, locked into the comfort of a centrally heated office, I was lucky just to see the sun from my window. Afternoon snuggles in the quilt? Not nearly often enough. Sunday mornings in Dilli Haat? No again, and I really don’t know why not. Aloo parathas? Nah … not in these days of weight-watching paranoia.

The winters I am nostalgic about seem to be from some long-ago, faraway time. I seem to no longer make the time or effort to live them the way I’d like to, even though I love the thought of them. Every year, over the last 3 years, I would look forward to winter … and every year, I would watch the 2 potentially magical months pass by without making the time to enjoy them. And now I’m back in Bangalore, still hungry for my ‘Delhi winter’. What a waste.

I’m going to Delhi for a couple of days this week, and I just got a call from my mother telling me that the first fog has arrived. Wonderful. I am going to pack into 2 days everything I didn’t do in 3 years. I want one thickly foggy day and one faintly sunny one. I want aloo parathas for breakfast and a sunny spot on the balcony to eat oranges on. And yes, I very definitely want at least one afternoon snuggle in the quilt.


  • Lovely post. I hate winter and can't see the point in sub zero weather, but your post has given me lots of ideas on how to tackle the cold

    By Blogger The ramblings of a shoe fiend, at 4:18 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • *blows nose for the nth time and glares balefully at you*

    By Blogger Aishwarya, at 5:29 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • Have a new 10 kilo quilt ready. Aloos are boiled... Fog has arrived...Yes my beloved daughter, get ready for two wonderful winter days, just the way you remember them. mom

    By Anonymous Akash, at 7:29 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • I sort of dislike Delhi, but you manage to make it sound almost lovely :)

    By Blogger apu, at 7:52 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • beautiful descriptions :)

    i love winter too!

    enjoy ur trip home.

    By Blogger Prerona, at 3:05 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • SF: thanks :)
    The thing about Delhi is that it never does get sub-zero - so winter's not an unending stretch of grey months but a fleeting 2 months when Delhi is not as unbearably hot as it usually is.

    Aishwarya: Oops. Forgot that a perpetual cold is one of the downsides :( ... but then again, what better excuse for hot buttered rum in a quilt?

    Mom: see you soon!

    Apu, Prerona: thanks :)

    By Blogger Anjali, at 7:58 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • Lovely post. I love winter too (despite spending my childhood in Hyd where the closest you get to winter is wearing an open jacket till 9 in the morning).

    Winter in Del happens to be my favorite way to spend winter.

    Wandering about aimlessly in Dilli Haat, running to the malls for cover when the outside cold threatens to freeze you, endless cups of coffee at the friendly neighborhood bakery,soaking in an hour of thick fog from the balcony before rushing off to brave the same fog to get to office, walking in the park, dinner at 7 followed by adrak chai for dessert...aah!

    I moved to Del hoping to share the magic of winter with a special someone and despite that not working out, i enjoyed every moment of the two winters that i spent there. That's probably what got me through that horrid time.

    Great post...brought back many memories.

    Have fun on your trip to Del.

    By Anonymous tara, at 9:08 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • Ah, sounds great....Winter's in b'lore aren't that bad either...in fact, they're my favourite time of the year...as long as it doesn't rain too much...

    By Blogger the Monk, at 9:17 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • enjoy your trip...get fat get warm get pampered....forget inhibitions abt enjoying life ;) (fur tohoo dahys wunly)

    By Blogger Siri, at 10:10 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • lol..lets hope you get exactly what you want...:)

    By Blogger manuscrypts, at 12:18 AM, December 19, 2005  

  • hey this is a marvellous blog !! i live in delhi and its cold like..hell here ! b'lore is cool or is it cold ?enjy yer trip..

    do see my blog : www.shysblog.blogspot.com


    By Blogger Shy, at 2:09 AM, December 19, 2005  

  • I am dreaming of you again (why?) and a couple of bounced emails to you led me to google you and here you are...I am back in Paris now but have kept a position and email id in London. Do write and help resolve the dream issue.
    arch singh-manoux

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:41 AM, December 19, 2005  

  • Wow! Just today, for the first time in this season I did the afternoon-quilt-on-couch drill, and here, I read your post. Deja vu of sorts. Great post!

    By Blogger Arun, at 11:24 AM, December 19, 2005  

  • You do realize, of course, that reading this post while firmly ensconced a few thousand miles from the chikki and gajar-ka-halwa is not very good for one's general wellbeing. Ah well .. at least one has a quilt. And tea.

    By Blogger One in a Billion, at 4:02 PM, December 19, 2005  

  • arch, hi!!
    It's wonderful to hear from you - I've also been wondering how to get in touch. I lost your mail id through a series of complex events I won't go into here. Will you write to me at anjali_puri@rediffmail.com?

    By Blogger Anjali, at 7:04 PM, December 19, 2005  

  • tara: thanks, and yes - I'd forgotten to mention coffee at the bakery! Especially on foggy days.

    monk: true, but then Bangalore's wonderful all year round, isn't it?

    siri, manuscrypts: thanks :)

    shy, arun: welcome! and thank you.

    the one (and only?? why this sudden need to assert uniqueness? are there imposters in the vicinity?) ... my apologies for causing distress. But properly brewed tea should no doubt be a consolation :)

    By Blogger Anjali, at 7:19 PM, December 19, 2005  

  • Not uniqueness .. quite the opposite. The modified moniker actually represents a mild case of schizophrenia. Different facets of being and all that. Clever, no?

    By Blogger One in a Billion, at 3:42 PM, December 21, 2005  

  • Have a wonderful time in delhi and have one cuttin chai under the roof for me too..Merry christmas and a happy new year!!!

    By Blogger arvindiyer, at 3:12 AM, December 26, 2005  

  • Madame Puri, a new post, yes?happy new year...

    By Blogger the Monk, at 11:56 PM, December 30, 2005  

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