From the Editor – A Whiff of Winter!

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.

Dramatic Landscapes in Winters



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.

Can you make a snowman in summers? Anywhere?

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.

Can any outing be complete without a Bon Fire out in the freezing openness?

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.

A simple cup of tea can be heavenly in Winters

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…

38 Comments

  • Chandra81 says:

    Madhu-malati creeper is it :-)
    I completely agree with you. Winter is when “romance and imagination” is at its peak. And so is nostalgia.
    I too love winters. It’s the best time especially for travelers and especially in and around Delhi.
    It’s been quite a while since I hit the road. The travel season has arrived for me :-)
    Jaisalmer do sound a good place to be.
    Let’s see.
    Superb post as usual :-)
    Cheers!
    Nikhil

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Nikhil for your appreciation! My guess is that most of the writers would like winters for the same reason – “Romance and Imagination”.

      Now that the travel season is here, we hope to hear some wonderful winter tales from you soon. :)

      Cheers!

  • you have made nice snowman……………………………

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Vishal, our snowman was very popular amongst the children in the neighbourhood. They asked about it for the entire year, long after it had melted and the snow was gone.

      By the way, which season do you prefer?

  • venkatt says:

    Agree whole heartedly with you. For me in Tamil nadu reeling under the harsh sun for most of the year, winter months are a real blessing and the best time to travel.

    • Vibha says:

      Humidity is perhaps the worst aspect of summers coupled with hot winds…I cannot imagine how people who have to brave the sun in summers manage to survive. Hats off to them!

  • rawatgaurav81 says:

    I completely agree with you…winter is the best season….I couldn’t understand why people love summers ,especially in our country where we had the ACs on for 9 months in a year…..Winters are the best season especially in our part of country i.e. in and around delhi……someone might say that it is the period of gloom with fog all around but then they should wait for the sun to emerge from behind the clouds and enjoy the bright sunlight sitting outside……can we do that in summers :)

    • Vibha says:

      exactly. very aptly put. True there’s plenty of sun in summers, but can you actually go out and enjoy it. Glad to hear you like winters as well…

      Cheers,

  • Nandan says:

    Whiff ? I think it is more like a full bodied gust of winter in your story :-)

    Already 4 fans strong, I am now entering into a hostile territory but I would take my chances. Summers it is for me :-), for long days, for having tea at 3 PM in jugalbandi with scorching Sun, for early morning breeze, for the sweat and the high of hard work it exudes, summer it is for me.

    Very beautifully written Vibha.

    And the next one, in the Happy New Year 2012, we would start seeing the Editorials on 1st of every month.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hey Nandan,
      To say that I love winter doesn’t mean that I detest summer. It is said that water is nectar for those who live in desert same goes for winter…without the scorching summer of Delhi that we experience for the most part of the year how could we not love the winters ‘when it doth arrive in its glory’. So I thank thee summer for letting me know how good it is to have winter :-) :D

      Summer is especially fun and I do love to ‘beer’ (pun intended) with it :-) Nothing beats it!!!

    • Vibha says:

      It is always a pleasure to get appreciation from you, Nandan. I’m so glad you liked the article.

      You are the only summer-person who has stood up for summers. Your views are welcome :). However, I think it is very difficult to catch a cool breeze any time in summers. Even in the mornings, they are luke-warm at the least. I remember driving with my father on a two wheeler through the green ridge at 9 PM in the night and still wishing that the wind was a little cool. So as you probably know by now, Winter it is for me.

      I hope other summer-lovers will come forward with their views too. Else winter lovers are clearly winning in spite of your reasonings…

      Thanks again for reading and sharing your opinion. :)

      • Chandra81 says:

        Here I would disagree with you Vibha.
        Sorry for that :-)
        But you see driving through ridge is probably the best thing to do in summers in Delhi and I assure you cool breeze is indeed guaranteed.
        I used to drive through Ridge daily on my bike to my office in CP (you see i live in Inderpuri) and that was the best part of my then office life. Driving through the greenest cover of Delhi. And overcast day added to the thrill and joy of riding. Now that my office has shifted I do miss riding my bike through that ‘so out of Delhi road’. On many an overcast day driving there is reminiscent of driving at a hill station :-)

        • Vibha says:

          Ok…perhaps I was at the wrong place at the wrong time :)

          Ok, I’ll grant this to summers. When a cool breeze breaks the oppressive heat, it is a blessing.

  • Charu says:

    could not agree more.i too love winters and eagerly wait for it to come. After reading this post i am all set to venture out again . This time to make a snow man.

  • Devasmita says:

    I re-read this the third time since yesterday, and loved your article again, and yet again :) It is no longer about the summer versus winter debate .. it is the beauty with which you have painted pictures through this editorial :) I still do not like winters, but I love this post :)

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Vibha , very well presented article.

    Ummmm…Summers or winters. Both seasons have their own advantages , but I would go for Summers.
    Preferably because of the long day. In winters, time runs too fast.

    It is not that, I hate winters. I believe most of us like snow, but then I feel pity for those people who survive in sub zero temperatures and live in such a harsh weather in Winters. Winters definately attracts tourists like us , but people living in the hills always wish that they could avoid extreme winters.

    Sahil

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks for the appreciation Sahil.

      Yes you are right. To an extent, I’ve witnessed how harsh winters can be. And so can summers. At the peak of summers, in the plains, 100s of people suffer heat strokes when the sun unleashes its fury. I guess since both weathers are harsh in their extremeties, we have to keep that point aside.

      I do appreciate you, Nandan, and DC coming forward to defend summers. The season is now well-represented in this discussion.

      :)

  • Amit Kumar says:

    Very interesting write-up as usual from editor :-)

    I am 101% agree with Vibha, (1% extra for describing winter in such a beautiful word). Summer of Delhi kills me, and I can’t stand without AC. I wait the whole year for this time. Whether it is a perfect nap in quilt or sipping a hot cup of tea, to savor your test bud with hot and spicy food, everything seems more appropriate in winter. Besides nature is at its best in winter, that means more opportunities for ghumakkars to travel and share :-)

    Though I am agree with Sahil regarding the harsh conditions in hills, but I guess still they love it as much as we do. We are fortunate enough to have all amenities to cover ourselves with the harshness of nature but those who are unfortunate definitely bear the pain. BUT STILL, MY VOTE GOES TO WINTER with due apology to summer lovers.

  • Vibha says:

    Thanks a lot Amit for your appreciation.

    Winters are winning the race so far with 6 votes (not counting mine), while, with just 3 votes, summers lag far behind.

  • Aditya says:

    Winters….love this part of the year….. I just feel like taking my bike out and head for the Himalayas right now…. Every year in march the waiting game begin’s and lasts a whooping 9 months…. Wish this could have been the other way around….

  • toddler ved says:

    ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind..’ P.B.Shelley, the great romantic poet, had been too harsh to term winter as death and spring – rebirth. For we Indians, mostly from the tropical zone (warm-hot and moist), winters may be quite alluring but it is agony for the ppl of temperate and frigid zones. The absence of life and vegetation in no green but all white snow would have forced Shelley to write so.
    …..Anyways, a nice effort to portray the villain of Shelley in a character role……

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Vibha ,

    If its not just summers and winters ,
    I would also go for Spring and Autumn as the beauty of places is best seen in Spring and Autumn. I have myself witnessed this in Kashmir and many other hill stations. The best can neither be enjoyed in Winters nor Summers but in Spring where you can see the real colourful shades.

    Sahil

  • Geetha Saravanan says:

    ‘…Its a season to be jolly…’ indeed. I agree with Devasmita that you’ve painted a breathtakingly beautiful picture of winter. When we moved to Mumbai from Delhi (where I had spent all my life), what I missed most was Delhi winters. That included the joy of hot jalebis and chole bhature, tikkis, makki di roti and sarson da saag ! Another endearing aspect about Delhi winters is the featival of lights that heralds the coming of this season. It is only in Delhi that ‘Diwali festivity and glitter’ pervades the air.

  • jaishree says:

    Oh, Oh! March is gone!! We are one month closer to winters!!! I speak in despair. For me, life starts with Holi and ends with Deepawali.

    Summer it is for me- when waking up at 5 in the morning becomes a bliss, preparing the tiffin box, getting kids out of bed and ready for school is no more a torture, and their school bus no more looks like a UFO as in those dark , foggy, bone chilling mornings at 6:40am sharp, if one does call that a morning.

    All the other seasons except winters, are to live the life to brim.

    Early morning jogs, leisurely baths, late night strolls become so inviting. The long, thought provoking afternoons, when there is not a soul on the street, only the murmurous sound of whirling of leaves and sand, pushes one indoors and introspect. I spread myself on the bare floor- to play boardgames with kids, paint with them and comfortably move around to bring beakers of Nimbu-pani, kesar-lassi, Aam-panna, Jal-jeera and endless combination of smoothies and Shakes, made with red of the watermelon, yellow of the mangoes, brown of the chikoos to be eaten with bites and bites of little cherries, white Leechi, sweet n sour plums, heady melons, sharbti peaches. And who can forget home-made Kulfi……….and it is still afternoon, so plenty of time to read and read. When heat tries to undo things..head for another bath.

    Evenings lure everyone out, straight into the pool, uninhibited play ,as long as you want. and there is plenty of evening left.When hubby dear comes, pamper him with some chilled drinks and he is out in the garden with kids. Time to socialize,…lets one be extrovert all in a day ! Another bath and it is still not over.

    And if all that is not enough, there is more. It makes me nostalgic…????? ?? ?????????, ??? ?? ?????, ???? ?? ??, ?? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?????…..Summer It is for Me.

  • toddler ved says:

    What a vivid description of summer!!!!!!!! and that tooo in a lucid way. That is what this toddler too feels but could not express the way u did Jaishree. Thnx a lot.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Jaishree – That was a winning performance piece.

    So here is the current stat

    Love Winters : Vibha, Chandra, Venkatt, Gaurav Rawat, Charu, Geetha

    and the Summers have : Nandan, Devasmita, Sahil, Jaishree, Ved Toddler

    Guess, we need more views. :-)

  • Vibha says:

    Hi Nandan,

    You forgot Amit and Aditya. They love Winters too. The count is actually:

    Love Winters : Vibha, Chandra, Venkatt, Gaurav Rawat, Charu, Geetha, Aditya, Amit (8)

    and the Summers have : Nandan, Devasmita, Sahil, Jaishree, Ved Toddler (5)

    Winters are leading …

  • Nandan says:

    Seems that winters are pretty harsh this year. Snow Loves would like it though

    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120108/himachal.htm#1

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