Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Delhi Winter

I'm in Delhi for a short winter break, in the midst of lower than average temperatures and biting winds. The sun is out for about half the day and people are out for much less. The Delhi centenary celebrations draw to a tired close and cultural events are at an all time low. Undoubtedly things will begin to move again during Christmas and New Year's eve.

For now, I spend my mornings outdoors, wrapped up like a mobile Christmas tree, in deep green and carrot orange (alternate, stripy sweater) and red woolly jacket, trying to catch the sun. Evenings find me seated next to a steam heater, sipping hot soup, watching the Christmas special movies on television. Day before yesterday I saw Casablanca, the unforgettable film with the perfect cast and one liners that stay in your mind forever. I don't believe any other actors could have created the same moods as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman did.

Yesterday I visited some bookshops owned by individuals, not chains - places with eclectic collections and eccentric crowds. Peeped into a shop selling honey glazed hams and European cheeses and bought a small Christmas cake with almond icing. Well fed street dogs seem to lie along pavements, many with little woollen jackets around their middles.

On the road there was a flurry of Krishna devotees selling copies of the spiritual and philosophic text, Bhagavad Gita. Ever since a Siberian court has been moved to decide whether this book should be banned (as it might be 'war-promoting, extremist literature'), heated discussions have begun in Indian political and religious circles.

Today I bought gigantic prawns and large and small river fish - this is truly a great season for seafood and I try and make the most of it. Visited a sweet shop to buy the winter sweets, made with dark and delicious palm jaggery. Had a little talk with the shop attendant about labour shortage and the evident decrease in variety of sweets.

I am leaving this evening, carrying a suitcase of books and a large carton of food. Deep red, sweet winter carrots (for halwa and perhaps, if I desire, a carrot cake), tender white radish with pungent liver-cleansing leaves, dark indigo carrots for kanji (a fermented winter drink), sweet and juicy kinoos (a local orange) and tiny cape gooseberries - some to eat and some to jam. As the winter moves on, I have my work cut out for me.

No comments:

#Header1_headerimg { margin: 0px auto }