Table of contents for Editorial 2011
2011 is coming to a close and, as you all know, the race for the Ghumakkars of the Year 2011 is now in its final lap. I can well imagine our jury members curled up in their armchairs, holding on to a hot beverage, reading stories, trying to make up their minds about how to rank the finalists. I hope they have a good time judging. The season is definitely perfect for reading stories.
In fact the season is perfect for a lot of things. Winters are my favorite for traveling and even otherwise. The chills, layers-upon-layers of clothes, the dark nights, the heavy fog, and short, sunless days, I love every bit of the season. I know by now half of you are wondering what’s wrong with me. But it’s true and I can’t deny it. I love the chill. Summers on the other hands don’t do anything for me. Clear, long days and the possibility of wearing glam clothes can never compensate for the searing heat and the sweat.
Winters have always inspired romance. I always thought I could smell winters and I still believe I can. Ever since the first drops of dew start making their frail appearances on the blades of the grass and the leaves of the Madhu-malati creeper outside my home, I start smelling that slightly smoky, damp fragrance that for me marks the advent of winters, the mystical season. And now comes the point when you will either completely disagree with me or start doubting my sanity. I think Delhi looks especially beautiful during the winters. The fog brings back the nostalgic memories of my first trip to Mussourie with my parents. That was my first experience of the mountains and ever since I returned from that trip, I have looked forward to the winters in Delhi to transport me back to that trip of the bygone times, which in spite of the numerous revisits to Mussourie and other hill stations, remains mystical. That was the trip that made me fall in love with the mountains.
The season has also been glamorized by the soft-blur commercials of Monte Carlo and the various moisturizing creams featuring models with flawless skins. Winters also stand for studying on the terrace with the rare sun shining down on our shawl-covered heads, the sounds of the cracking peanut shells, the smart blazer with the school uniform, the wafting fragrance of the milk boiling with shredded carrots and the myriad types of Gajak and Chiki…the list is endless and I could go on forever. In no other season does sipping on a hot cup of ginger tea or feasting on a steaming bowl of Sambhar seems so inviting. Writing an editorial while sitting all wrapped up in a soft, light-as-a-cloud blanket from Panipat can set one’s imagination on fire. Nostalgia is a conducive emotion for writing and winter is a conducive season for nostalgia.
Winters also bring to life the most barren landscapes and, if you set the need to carry bulky luggage and the possibility of getting stuck in the snow and dying of frost-bite aside, make the most mundane journeys exciting. Clouds, fog, snow are the perfect accessories for drama, magic, and mystery. You can never guess what marvel of nature is hiding behind that curtain of clouds. The feeling of awe, when you wake up one fine winter morning to discover that a virgin sheet of snow now covers the entire landscape, never gets old. And fog, since time eternal, is the ultimate symbol of suspense.
Winters offers to us on a platter a number of activities no other season does and opens up regions that are not easy to explore during any other season. Humidity in coastal regions gives way to a pleasant chill in the air and the heat of the desert dissolves into comforting warmth. True, many destinations in the mountains close up due to bad weather and inaccessible roads, but many others take over an entirely new personality. Hill stations like Kufri turns from a deodar-covered green retreat to a ski resort for a brief period of time. Ice-skating becomes a common sport.
After all this, what more could you ask from a season? I vehemently defend winters when summer-lovers attack them with their predictable arguments about mangoes, Leh-Ladakh, long days, and general activity levels. I am sure that summers may be the “practical” season but no other season can match up to winters in terms of romance and imagination. What more can a writer and a traveler ask for? If you have any convincing arguments in favour of the summers, do share here. I’ll try to be open-minded. :)
Till then, have fun…