Saturday, December 13, 2008


India has many winters – and many ways of keeping warm.

I’ve seen red-cheeked cheeky children in the snow-capped Darjeeling hill-slopes running around with hands deep in jacket pockets sucking yak-milk toffees noisily to keep warm while returning from school.

I’ve seen grandfathers in Kolkata wrapped in dark shawls congregating like chattering crows nodding their monkey-capped heads vigorously in debate or discussion to keep warm on morning walks.

I’ve seen beggars in pilgrim-pious Benares stuffing newspapers in shoe-cracks and garment-holes chanting prayers incessantly to keep warm in temple alleys and under shop awnings.

I’ve seen construction-workers living in makeshift tents sitting around fires and singing lustily in their native dialects rubbing palms to ward off the night-chill to keep warm on the roadside.

I’ve seen Mumbai-dwellers welcoming their two weeks of winter with a shiver and a smile, no extra winter clothes for us, thank you, only the autorickshaw-drivers put on woolen headbands and earmuffs to keep warm in the sunless early mornings.

I’ve seen my two daughters spoon into each other in C-shapes, the younger one snuggling inside, the elder one cuddly-protective outside, to keep warm as the moon moves and a chill pre-dawn air wafts in through the window.

As I put the bedclothes back on them (kicked away in the course of bedtime-acrobatics), watching them puts a smile on my face. Enough to keep me warm.

P.S: Winter is on its way, and this post was specifically written for Michelle’s December Write-Away contest at her warm and well-written Scribbit.



Perfect observation.

ugich konitari said...

I grew up in Pune, and one of my old abiding memories of winter there, is senior citizen types, with mufflers, monkeycaps, thick sweaters and shawls, tennis shoes, and possibly a shoulder bag, walking just before sunrise, briskly, sometimes in a group, on their way to the Parvati temple on the hill. Many of them would be saying some stotras alongside, with singleminded dedication. If you ran into them on the steps of the hill, when they came down, the voices seemed to have risen with the sun, and you could hear amazing critiques of the political situation etc if you walked alongside.....Todays heroes in tracksuits are not a patch on these folks....

Scribbit said...

It's hard for me to remember the diversity of climate there. You make me want to travel all over to see all these places.

Stitchwhiz said...

The few times I've read your blog, I've learned so much about India through your evocative writing.

Stay warm. Winter solstice is fast approaching and soon it will be getting light again.
Mary in TX

Pradip Biswas said...

your observations are excellent. May I add one.know a soul who was was caught in my camp for stealing a bunch of firewood and Feathers of Chickens to keep her ailing mother warm. The only respect for the cold night of December for himself was a cloth around hisbody and "Mahua" a country liquor in his stomach. He said when firewood is burnt with feathers of chicken it becomes more pleasant. Our woolen cloth cover,stomaches full with chicken oast and whiskey melted.

Sucharita Sarkar said...



UK (Suranga),

I agree, brain wins over brawn any season, even winter.

Scribbit and Stitchwiz,

Thanks and do visit. India is a huge diverse country and I'm sure you'll find lots of interesting memories to take back.


Winter sharpens the divide between the HAVES and the HAVE-NOTS, doesn't it?

Ranu said...

hey Sucharitra
U have been awarded a blogger award please collect it from my blog!!!



Lazyani said...

Compared to the winter of my childhood days spent in Durgapur and Jamshedpur, Kolkata winters lack the BITE.However, it still had its charm. But with cricket throughout the year, the 'boi mela' unpredictable and smog , that charm is fast receeding.
Of course, it's the warmest winter in 50 years in Kolkata.

Your imagery of your two daughters warms the heart and reminds me of long lost childhood days where such a snuggle in the early morning chill made the sleep so much more worthwhile.

Pinku said...


that was nice and are my thoughts on winter to add to yours

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks ranu,

for the award. i'm very flattered and honoured.

thanks Lazyani (winter surely makes all of us even more lazy than we usually are) and pinku for adding your winter whimsies.