Lost Winter : The Curse of El Niño


Winter at India Gate, New Delhi. Image Courtesy : skymetweather.com

Last year, before winter started, I was like

Winter is coming.
– George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Now though, I’m more like this :

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead”.
– A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh, #3)

In a place like Bhuj which is naturally hot and dry throughout the year, winter comes as a welcome relief from all the sweating and sand-laden winds blowing in your face. This year though, we got the rough end of the stick.

While winter stays for no more than 1.5 – 2 months here and it’s not as cold and terrifying as the winters up north in the country, people still like enjoying their two-month break from the heat as well as enjoying the various sweets and delicacies that are specially prepared in this season, like ‘adadiyaa’, ‘chikki’ and ‘undhiyu’, among others. Gujarati people just love their food, regardless of the season. Living here all these years, I have been accustomed to looking forward to the same things. This year, because of the El Niño effect, the winters have been less cold than is the norm every year, not just in Bhuj but across the country. While it doesn’t deter anyone from eating any of the above mentioned dishes, it certainly takes the charm away. Imagine eating a ripe Kesar mango after rains instead of in sultry, peak summer. Looking at the other end of the spectrum though, the winter “lite version” surely has provided a lot of relief to people, especially in the northern states, and particularly to the poor and the homeless.

At my village : Dense fog one morning at the turn of the year, something which was a rarity this season.

The downside is the probable adverse effect on the Rabi crop of Wheat, which, as I was told back at my hometown in another of those chilly northern winter states, Uttar Pradesh, needs fog in late December-early January for a good yield. What this El Niño effect has meant in Bhuj is that there have been barely 10-15 really cold days this time, which is a shame actually.

No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.

– Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Winter and fashion go hand-in-hand. Image courtesy : indiatoday.intoday.in

Apart from providing relief from the heat and dust, winter also provides us with a chance to dabble in the season’s fashion – in woollens, shawls, mufflers, sweatshirts and pullovers to knit caps, gloves and sweaters. It also helps people, especially lazy-as-hell engineering guys to conceal the fact that they haven’t bathed or washed their shirt and undervest for the past fortnight or so, since there’s very less sweating and adding a sweater on top of the shirt (with a liberal spray of deodorant) masks the smell almost completely (don’t look at me, bloggeray doesn’t do that kind of thing!!! I’m a hyper-clean and hygienic dude.
OK…………, might have tried it out sometime, maybe once in college 😀 ). Jokes apart, the point I’m trying to make is that the shorter and warmer the winter, the less chance the fashionistas get to display their wardrobe.
Generally it’s said here that winter stays till Uttarayan (that’s 14/15 January for non-Indians). This time though, I guess it had long since said goodbye, somewhere around the turn of the year itself.

Children playing on the frozen Dal Lake in Srinagar, J&K. Image Courtesy : rediff.com 

The sad state of affairs 😦

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

P.S. : I personally am not a big fan of winter. The cold and cough and dry, chapped lips and skin that is standard issue in the season is not my cup of tea!  I’ll rather take my perspiring, parched-as-nuts self of summer any day over those struggles.


    1. Oh I can’t even bear to think of how harsh the winters would be there, although you guys would be quite adapted to it. Just like we Indians handle the heat here. 😉
      But of course, I love summer!


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