Winter is here in Kolkata - FINALLY ! Although it still hasn't come with its usual sting ,but welcome anyway.
Winter in Kolkata has a definite definition , I feel. It is synonymous to innumerable things that make winter so special for Kolkata. 'Kolkata Winters' - this word draws an image in my mind , a very colourful one, and here I shall try to pick out those colours and give each one a life of its own.
As soon as the Diwali( Kali Puja to the Calcuttans ) and Bhai Phota's over, people of Kolkata wait for their favourite season. It comes tenderly by the end of November and brings along with it happiness and a chilling warmth. Days become shorter and nights become so long.
U wake up in the morning, step on the grass of your lawn, and you know that it's winter when the silent dews kiss your feet. Early in the morning , u can smell the heavy fog almost blinding your vision. Old and young morning walkers who otherwise throng the parks sleep peacefully, ignoring their health walk for once.
Our woolens and quilts which had been kept imprisoned for the last 12 months, in the dark depths of our cupboards and bed-boxes are given their share of annual freedom. They feel the warmth of the sun and are made ready for service. All the shorts are discarded and the pajamas are pulled out and we start looking bloated due to the woolens. Small children don their colourful woolen garments and make their way school-wards in a sluggish gait. The cart of the vegetable vendors during the winter looks simply picturesque. They are decorated with yellow, orange , green , violet and so many other colours.
Morning is greeted with a cup of steaming tea and the famous 'Kochuri & Alur Dum' from the nearby sweet shop. 'Joynagorer Moya' is another thing to die for. People wait for the winter primarily for this, I guess. Every house build up their own stock of the same and every time you visit someone, there's always one in your platter. In the villages, the smell of jagerry (Gur) fills up the air. Women in almost every house start boiling the date- juice (it's sinful i tell you), and start making the gur. They come to the city in earthen pots, their mouths sealed with flour dough and dry shaal leaves. The Bengali Babus bargain on their high price and complain about the purity of the gur. Winter brings with it, mouth watering dishes in each and every Bong house. 'Koraishutir Kochuri', 'Muli ki paratha', 'Notun Alur Dum' are few of them.
And soon the time comes for 'Pithe' - another sweet-meat of the bongs . I want to be born as a bong ever and ever again only for the 'Pithe' , if for nothing else. In every house , the Mas ,Kakimas and the Didimas make different kind of 'pithe s' - Patishapta, Sheddho Pithe, Gokul Pithe to name a few.
Short trips and long drives become common at this time of the year and the traffic increases manifolds. Our famous 'Maidan' gets busy greeting everyone irrespective of their social profile. The 'ghora walas' also have a nice time, with small kids having rounds and rounds of horse rides.
Picnics - how can I miss that ? The outskirts of Kolkata also get busy at this time as huge 'Bagan Baris' get booked for picnics- Office picnics, school and college picnincs, local club picnincs , re-union picnincs - the list is endless. The hired buses smell of oranges, boiled egg, cakes and bananas- a common breakfast for the picnic. Children, and sometimes adults bring out their rusted badminton rackets, which otherwise lay abandoned at one corner of the house attic.
And then comes Christmas. 'Park Street ' - the very first name that comes to my mind while speaking of Christmas of Kolkata. Adorned with lights , Park Street looks stunning as ever . The decoration has not changed its pattern for the last god knows how many years, but there's still some newness about it every year. 'New Market' starts looking like a Christmas Tree in itself.The christians of Kolkata throng the market buying Christmas tress, bells and Santa Clause models. It's all Red and Green, whichever direction you look at. New Market smells of vanilla . Christmas cakes beautify the old wooden shelves of 'Nahoum' - the oldest cake shop of the city.
And gradually , everything comes to a standstill on the eve of the next year. Before one can think of and jot down what one did on this present year, the latter bids us goodbye forever .And with a Bang steps in, the very fresh ,the very joyful , the very promising and above all the very mysterious "NEW YEAR".
Winter passes on like a flash of lightning . So many events, so much fun , so many colours, all pass almost in the blink of an eye. And before we even know it, its gone and we again wait for the next winter to come and paint us all.