Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter calm

Winters in Calcutta are unpredictable. First, because you can never be sure there will be any winter at all; this year, for instance, we had to wait till Christmas for the weather to turn colder, for sweaters and thick blankets to be dragged out of storage, dusted and aired. And then, when it does get colder, you can never be sure how cold it will be - two years ago it was so chilly that one wished for a heater, which are unheard of in this city. And then, of course, you never know how long this blessed respite from heat and humidity will last - we like to say that the weather remains cool and pleasant till March, but that doesn't always happen.

But there's one quality to Cal winters that never changes, regardless of temperature and chill factor - that peculiar peace that surrounds the city, a stillness that permeates the very air, a quiet that soothes and calms. And at no time during the day is this more apparent than the afternoons, that quietest time of the day, when the morning chores are done, baths taken, lunches eaten and cleared, leaving people free to choose a spot in the sunshine to snooze, read, or converse quietly. Sitting in our room, I can see sunny ledges and balconies, pigeons sitting huddled in the sunshine, disembodied voices of people in various flats floating up now and then; and over it all, the occasional sound of traffic, which somehow seems to lose its strident quality at this time of day.

The calm and quiet are more apparent where my parents live, where I grew up, which is still far from main roads and busy traffic. Winters afternoons in my childhood were incredibly pleasant - we would make our way up to the terrace, dragging a mat and pillows along, armed with books and that most evocative of all fruits - oranges. Once up, the mat would be unrolled in a sunny spot, pillows placed wherever one wanted, books opened, and oranges peeled. And the only things that broke the silence were quiet voices and the rustling of pages being turned. If you looked over the ledge, you could see one or the other of our cats sleeping soundly in the sunshine on some ledge or wall, or washing themselves thoroughly prior to settling down. Occasionally one could see a neighbour or someone's maid appear on their terrace with a bucket of washing, which would be hung out to dry on clotheslines - and perhaps they would then stop to call out to us before settling down to their sunny siesta.

A warm, wintry sun, crisp clean air, the smell of oranges, quiet voices that carried, cats stretching luxuriously in the sunshine - these are what made up Cal winters. And they still do. Nowhere else have I noticed this gentleness to winter, the lulling, soothing quality that leaves you warm and peaceful, somehow glad to be alive - and after a decade in Delhi, I'm glad to find that some things haven't changed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blog meme!

is all because of PD tagging me on her blog - now I have to follow suit! Okay, so maybe I don't HAVE to, but I'd like to! So here goes.

Favourite song right now?
The Call, by Regina Spektor (from the soundtrack of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)

What did you last eat?
Lunch! The usual, regular stuff, but then I had one of Nahoum's lemon tarts, followed by some lemon tea!

What kind of books do you read?
What kind of books don't I read might have been a better question! I read everything except inane, mindless racy thrillers and soppy romance. Very partial to crime fiction, especially good, old-fashioned police procedurals, fantasy fiction, and some sci-fi.

What are you reading right now?
Just started reading a new Swedish crime writer - Hakan Nesser; his first novel, The Mind's Eye.

Favourite Television show right now.
If I had to choose among those being currently aired, I'd have to say House MD. But I also love Brothers and Sisters, Supernatural, CSI, Monk. And I'm pretty hooked on to Desperate Housewives too! :D

What are you wearing right now?
Jeans, tee, sweater.

What’s your current fandom / obsession / addiction?
Fandom: Adam Lambert; Obsession: Farming games on Facebook; Addiction: Reading :)

What did you really want to do today that you didn’t?
Believe it or not - get a certain amount of work done!! :( Which never happened.

What are you most excited for?
Nothing. Seriously.

If you could be a mythical creature, what would you be?
A Centaur. They're fascinating; and so majestic, noble, and beautiful.

What was the last thing you bought?
Some baking stuff my mom wanted, some foodie stuff for us (mayo, pasta sauce, etc.) and plum cake, sponge cakes and lemon tarts from Nahoum's.

If you could have any pet, what would it be?
A tiger cub. We already have three gorgeous, adorable kittens, and more cats at my parents' place, and I've always wanted a little tiger cub to bring up.

What do you want right this minute, off the top of your head?
I want to be completely relaxed and at peace with myself and the world.

Where is the place you like to return to in order to calm down / relax / etc.?
Home, which is my parents' place. I need to have family around me - husband, parents, cats - to relax and calm down.

Who was the last person you visited?
Parents, yesterday - we spent Christmas with them, eating our way through the day!

Are there any bits of childhood that you miss?
Oh, so much. School, vacations, pujo holidays, all the spoiling and love, the joy and innocence of those days. Why did I have to grow up?

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter?

Say something to the person who tagged you:
This was fun - and thanks for providing the motivation that finally dragged me back to my blog!