Very soon, the doors leading to the tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya will close not at 10 pm, the usual time, but half an hour earlier. This will mean that winter has finally arrived in Delhi.
The same night, a few hours later, it may rain. The temperature may drop, making the security guards in the residential apartments of Patparganj shiver in their guardrooms. In Dwarka, less congested than the ‘puri’s and ‘bagh’s, it will be colder still. The morning after will bring a change to the city scenery. A feeble layer of mist will settle over the Yamuna. The river, or whatever is left of it, will no longer be seen.
Mild fog will waft past the Red Fort, turning it into something as fantastical as the Tsarist castles of Russian fairytales. Meanwhile, the BMWs of south Delhi will effortlessly slice through the icy air on the gentle slope of Moolchand flyover. The people on the pavement underneath will gather around a makeshift bonfire.
The autowallahs will drape themselves in blankets and their cash-starved customers will decide to show off their previous year’s Benetton pullovers. Dilli ki sardi will not even spare the view of DTC buses. In the winter mist, their steel edges will lose their sharpness, making them as blurry as the memory of last week’s lovemaking.
In Lodhi Garden, the gates will close at 8pm unlike in summers at 9pm. Senior bureaucrats, perhaps close to the Prime Minister, will continue with their morning walk, well shielded from the chill in multi-layered cardigans and sport jackets. But in Paharganj’s Main Bazaar, German backpackers will still be seen half-naked. This, possibly, is the best time for them. These foreigners from cold climes may wear the Delhi winter lightly round their shoulders, but we Delhiwallas are respectful. And glad, too.
In winter, the Capital creates an illusion of less aggression. People seem to be less hostile. The city takes a break from itself. Delhi ceases to be Delhi.
The sun, too, takes a breather. At noon, if you are at Central Park in Connaught Place, you will find the sun hiding behind the Jeevan Bharti Complex building — shining as palely as a worn-out penny. “What relief,” say those, who cannot easily forgive the tyrannies of the summer sun. But these winter joys are transient. Soon, the chill will become hateful. The fog will irritate and may even prove to be life threatening for a lost biker at India Gate.
The freezing air will slap you on the face. The city, under a grey sky, will become a wretched place. Several bleary-eyed people will skip their morning shower and come out not smelling of roses. And one chilly winter night, you may start pining for summer.