Spectator by Seema Goswami: Warming signs
I felt the first stirrings of disquiet when I ventured out for my usual late-afternoon walk last week
I felt the first stirrings of disquiet when I ventured out for my usual late-afternoon walk last week. The sun, which had until then been a balmy presence, was suddenly glowering angrily down on me. Such was the intensity of its gaze that in a few minutes I had to remove the wrap I was wearing over my shirt. And when even that didn’t do the trick, I had to admit defeat and find refuge in the shady parts of the park.
Clearly, the days of basking in the afternoon sun were over. Or, to put it more plainly, winter, my favourite season of the year, was over.
The realization hit home with a painful intensity of a dagger to the heart. But I consoled myself that if I stayed in the shade, and delayed my walks by a few hours, then maybe, just maybe, I could enjoy the cool weather for a little while longer. That illusion didn’t last long. The next day, the temperature was, if anything, even higher, and the breeze a little warmer.
But it was when I got in the car to go home that the mourning really kicked in. In the middle of February, I was so hot that I had to switch on the air-conditioning to make the journey home comfortable. Winter was really and truly gone. It didn’t even have the grace to hang around until Holi (still a few weeks away), which had been the norm so far.
A look at the newspapers only confirmed what I had already experienced on my walk. This was the hottest February on record, with daytime temperatures hitting the 30 degree mark. And if that’s what we had to cope with in February, I shudder to think what April and May will be like.
As I disconsolately packed away my sweaters, put the radiators into storage, and tucked away my winter boots in the back of my closet, I tried hard to think of ways in which I could extend the pleasures of winter just a little bit longer. Or, at the very least, enjoy the ephemeral season of spring, which seems to vanish in a blast of heat no sooner than it announces its arrival with a burst of colourful blooms all across the city.
So, I headed off to the neighbourhood nursery to stock up on petunias, pansies, salvia, and other spring flowers to brighten up my balcony. Until their blooms lasted, I could pretend that spring was still in attendance, even if the temperatures insisted otherwise. I headed to the kitchen to make what would quite likely be my last sarson ka saag for this season. And then, for good measure, made some alu methi to go with it, along with some bathua raita. I began my day with a freshly peeled orange, its citric aroma scenting the air. I roasted some peanuts for my evening snack.
In other words, I tried my hardest to pretend that the change of season was not happening.
But no matter how much you try to suspend belief, at the end of the day (or perhaps the week) you have to make your peace with reality. And that’s exactly what I am trying to do, even as I give my shawls a final airing by heading out to dinner at restaurants that are forever over air-conditioned, no matter what the time of the year.
From HT Brunch, February 18, 2023
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