"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things."
The heartwarming lyrics from Hollywood movie The Sound of Music bring a smile to my lips and lift my spirits every time I hear them. I imagine the dewy roses, cherubic kittens, furry caps and surprise gifts on a cold morning with a bright copper kettle whistling on the stove and I am transported to a world of make believe. Watching Julie Andrews immortalised as the nanny to the seven precocious Von Trapp children and their escapades together is always a pleasure.
The month of November is a perennial favourite because of the start of the winter chill and the sight of neighbourhood shops stocked with mouthwatering dry fruits such as cashewnuts and pale brown and plump walnuts, while smokey groundnuts with spice-flavoured jaggery arrive on roadside carts. Sitting in the warm winter sun surrounded by colourful chrysanthemeums, twittering birds and vibrant cotton quilts spread out to air is sheer bliss. Playing Canasta with friends by the roaring fireplace with roasted nuts, lemon cake, fragrant tea and a bit of gossip to polish off the day is a dream come true.
Ordering a book on the net and anxiously tracking its whereabouts on the courier network is so exciting. What I love most about a new book is the garden fresh smell of paper and the heady anticipation of a brand new read. I derive silly pleasure from saving up new books to read when I imagine I will be bereft of any.
Planning a winter vacation is as exhilarating as embarking on one. Scanning the internet for possible destinations, the hectic preparations, intensive study of the culture, food and languages of a foreign land is always enormous fun, with duty-free shopping thrown in as a bonus.
Another of my favourite pastimes this month is sitting with a cup of steaming coffee and browsing through old black and white photographs in family albums, where everyone is looking so young, unadorned and innocent. Candid poses atop the bonnet of the ancient Fiat, children dressed up in Kashmiri phirans and the mandatory studio portraits. Nothing like the pictures of today that are air-brushed and photo-shopped to present a perfect image.
A long drive with no particular destination, the car windows rolled down and the sight of blurred trees and houses streaming by evoke beautiful memories of past, simpler days. The sweet smell of a baby's breath and the velvety eyelashes, the face all screwed up in a scowl and the shell pink perfect nails always make me misty-eyed.
"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favourite things!"