I wished the angry muffled voices would invariably die out while I quietly pretended not to hear them. No one could be mean to a little girl now, could they? Alas, happy misconceptions! Mom would pull the warm blanket wrapped snugly around me in one clean sweep and expose me to the harsh winter morning. Breaking into a tantrum wasn’t an option since even a groggy me wasn’t blind to her glaring eyes boring into me. I hated waking up for school and prayed for winter vacations to extend for at least a month. This is the first winter memory that always comes to mind and it obviously isn’t pleasant. Sigh, but luckily that’s not it!
Let me confess, I have a love-hate relationship with winter. Growing up in Aurangabad, we felt dry winters very closely. Temperatures would touch single digits every day compelling us to indulge in early dinners. This was followed by parking ourselves in front of the coal segdi Dad would light up for us. We would gather around it and, although there was cable, mostly ended up playing antakshari, ludo, and other such games. Once in a while, we kids would get a rare adrak wali chai treat which made us feel important and grown up. Looking back, those were some of our fondest family memories.
Dad had a bike back then. Weekend get-togethers and dinners with his friends meant us layering up with multiple sweaters and rounding it off with a monkey cap. Mom would put vaseline, oil, and all kinds of creams on us to moisturise, making our skin glisten and slide. We looked so hilariously cute! It felt good sitting between Dad and Mom while my brother nestled cozily in her arms. I would slip my hand under Dad’s sweater for warmth and hold him close. The most comfortable car rides today cannot replicate that special feeling.
Frozen coconut oil, dreaded hair washes, and almost everything smelling of vaporub aside, winter was and is special for one thing; food. Mumbai gets every fruit and vegetable, including mangoes, all year round. However, during winter we get the best natural produce which tastes great and has immense nutritional value. Sarson ka saag and other green leafy vegetables, red carrots, fresh green peas, custard apples, apples, and oranges are just a few of them. Best time to take your tastebuds on a flavourful ride!
My winter comfort food is homemade vegetable daliya/khichdi with ghee and achar, bajra roti with methi ka besan, or a hot bowl of tomato soup topped with croutons and cream. How can I forget feasting on those amazing gond ke laddoos, dry fruit chikkis, and gajar ka halwa treats every other day? In Aurangabad, we regularly went to farms for the famous Hurda parties. They were a foodie’s delight and had the best winter specials served with baked hurda and an assortment of chutneys, dahi, and juices. Gosh, I’m drooling now!
Basking in the mellow morning sun is one of my favourite winter things. Books and hot chocolate make the perfect pair and are the best way to spend lazy afternoons. Hunting for winter special recipes and making them for my family gives me immense joy. Although it takes some effort to get moving, I try not to miss my workouts and sweat out indoors.
Winter unwittingly blesses me with a husky voice that attracts some rather funny comments. Endless cups of haldi ka doodh cannot salvage me from them, and it’s okay. I can sing away to glory, aka Phoebe. I haven’t bought a single sweater for myself in years and if I do need one, I steal my husband’s. It’s cozier that way. Mumbai doesn’t get cold much but when it does, we love settling on the couch, pulling up a duvet, and diving into a movie marathon. Ways of experiencing winter must’ve changed over time but the memories always remain special. As they say, life changes and so do we!
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