I had almost given up hope. No seriously, I did. Of rejoicing the short lived and rather enjoyable winters in Jaipur. It was there for all of two weeks in mid-December. For the next few odd weeks, it was difficult to keep even the thinnest of jackets on. The heat burnt your back during the day. It was marginally cooler after sundown.
On Sankrant – January 15 – the chill came back and how! It’s been long since I have celebrated the harvest festival with pithe and puli. That’s how we do it in Bengal. Of course, there’s Ganga Sagar Mela. But we, the snooty South Kolkata Kids (at least the majority of us) confine ourselves to ‘Dida’r bananno puli-pithe’ on Poush Parbon/Makar Sankranti. In fact, truth be told, I hardly paid any attention to ‘Sankrant’, as they call it here. I don’t even remember missing out on the delicacies. You get pithe in sweet shops throughout the year (puli I admit is not that common).
But when you see hundreds of kites soaring high against the clear blue sky, accompanied by frequent cries of ‘Woh Kata’, you are forced to make a note of the day. Well, the horrid songs blaring from nearby loudspeakers were a bit of a damper. But that was kind of normal, if not expected. The night sky was even more beautiful. Sky lanterns sailed away at a languid pace, at times bumping against each other playfully. It was a lovely sight and might I add, a romantic one when you are standing on the balcony with your significant other. All the warmth you need on chilly days.
The first thing that comes to your mind is colors, when you think of Rajasthan. Traditional garb, royal heritage, pink buildings and peacocks! People make up for the colors absent in nature. It’s a dry state. The most you’ll get to see are brown twigs and parched yellow leaves. Winters are different. Bougainvilleas and ‘Carrot Flowers’ are a common sight aside from meticulously potted seasonal flowers around Circles at major junctions. In the new city, I have hardly seen people – especially ‘upper class’ women – walking for pleasure (and I don’t mean evening or morning walks). It seems, walking without purpose, is an oddity! But you don’t mind being one when every house you pass by is a riot of orange, pink, and green.
Jaipur winters, for me, is incomplete without kiosk coffee. There are cafe chains and fancy solo shops but there’s something about what I call ‘kiosk coffee’. I had it once in a hospital canteen and another time in a Saras Dairy outlet. The coffee is rich, frothy and extremely sweet. They heat the milk up. Then transfer it in a steel jug. Generous amounts of coffee powder and sugar in paper cups. And then they raise the jug high above their heads and pour the hot milk into the cups with clinical precision! Not a drop spills over! Not quite sure what the ancient espresso machines at some of the kiosks are for though. My guess is, for additional froth.
And last but not the least, it’s the season of weddings, which means mares are at the mercy of men. A ‘shaadi wali ghodi’ was tethered right next to our house one of these days, and this is what she was up to!
Image Source: Google and Self!