As we were watching disturbing pictures of the blizzard in New York and the rest of Northeastern USA yesterday, the brief Kolkata winter said goodbye to us.
When I was a child, we looked forward to the winter in Kolkata. November to February was indeed very special for us children. It was dotted with bursts of happiness like a visit to the zoo and the Botanical Gardens, playing hide-and-seek among the hundreds of aerial roots of the banyan tree there ... and our futile attempts to identify the main trunk of the tree. Most of the aerial roots were so wide ... it was impossible to locate the trunk. Winters also meant picnics at Bandel Church or an orchard in Baruipur, where my dad was invariably the head cook. And the crowning glory of course was the once-in-year test match in Eden Gardens, accompanied by the soft sun and oranges. And watching Gods coming down to earth in the shape of Richie Benaud, Neil Harvey, Polly Umrigar, Hanif Mohammed, Gary Sobers and so on.
And on languid Sundays, short train rides to nowhere for my sister and me in the suburbia. And as we looked out of the window, our already middle-aged father opening a few windows to the world for us.
When we were children, a fridge was a rarity. It fact, it marked the boundary between a middle-class home and a "rich" man's abode. Among my close school friends, only Jyoti's family had the gadget; the chilled orange juice that Jyoti's loving mother served us was the chief attraction for visiting their place in summer. Air-conditioners were something that only cinemas could afford.
In the short five or six decades that separate my childhood from now, the fridge is as common as the ceiling fan. And every middle-class home in Kolkata has an air-conditioner or two.
But there is no winter.
The winter this year didn't stay for four months, but for a little over four days. This picture was captured in one of those rare mornings.
Kolkata, 25 January 2016