Sunday, 18 December 2011

Wintry Nostalgia

Personal Jottings!

RK Rishikesh Sinha

Like many people, I also like winter season. With temperature 5 degree Celsius and cloudy weather here in Delhi, I felt like writing a ‘winter’ write-up. As my keyboard started writing words, I delve deep into the unforgettable memories of the past. 

Good Morning Delhi

My neighbours are saying it is “too cold”. Toeing their conversation, I also say, “Yeah! It is too cold.” I see in the tea stalls, people sipping hot tea seem to be merrier than they were in the Dilli ki garmi. People collecting dry wood, leaves, papers to make fire and sitting around it to make themselves warm is one of the common scene in every nook and corner. I also noticed that the always open doors of my neighbours are tightly closed this season.

Wrapping myself in a woolen blanket, I am wishing to have hot-hot tea with some spicy hot pokoras.

This Delhi cold has reminded me the days of bone-chilling, snow-capped winter season in Kashmir. Though here, I don't do any preparation for fighting the cold; in Kashmir it needs a year-long preparation.Without it, it is impossible to survive.

Snow-capped winter Kashmir
What were the preparations?

# Air-Proof Room: Come winter, the whole house was being made winter proof. A room was chosen and being made air-proof so that all the household activities could be done in that particular room. Windows would be closed with polythene sheets, letting no gap to remain open. Even doors would not be spared. The gap between the bottom of the door and the floor was also taken care of! The sack was used to fill even the tiniest gap to block the nerve-shivering wind.

# Quilt: The weight of the quilt would go up to 10 kg of cotton! 

# Cloths: I used to put on minimum 5 pieces of clothes to keep myself warm which would ultimately make me immovable! Kashmiri pheran (finely woven, baggy wool-coat) was the best protection though I never worn it.

Men wearing pheran
# Bukhari: Without it, one cannot survive the frigid cold of Kashmir. Bukhari is a cylindrical drum with a chimney where coal/oil is burned. One will find it in every home, school and office. Bukhari make the room warm and we also used it to cook food. I used to fire the Bukhari early morning and would heat up the water pipe that used to clog due to freezing of water.

# Stored Garbage: One interesting thing we used to do whole year was storing the household garbage and all sort of junk so that it could be burned in the winter season. It included cardboard, packets, papers and anything rubbish. This might be the reason that Kashmir is clean!

# Kangri: This is a firepot to fight cold. Kashmiris keep it burn months-after-months, that I failed to learn the trick. It is something like personal heater (with wood charcoal) which will keep you warm and safe from the biting cold. Very important while traveling and where there is no source of heat.

I still remember the morning school task in winter season that we boys used to do daily immediately after reaching the school. We would burn the class-Bukhari with kerosene and wood. After it was ignited, the task of girls was to make tea for all the students and teachers!
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