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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Winter’s here. Enjoy while it lasts

Mumbai’s winters are to be coveted because they are so rare as to be illusory

mumbai Updated: Jan 25, 2019 00:23 IST
Ayaz Memon
Ayaz Memon
Hindustan Times
Winter has set in in Mumbai.
Winter has set in in Mumbai.(HT FILE)
         

The sharp dip in temperature over the past few days has added a tingling, vibrant dimension to Mumbai. One can almost feel the city reinvigorated, uplifted. On the streets or at home, in work or leisure time, the rise in energy and elan is palpable. If nothing else, there seem far more smiling faces than usual.

The only complaint I have heard is from my 12-year-old Labrador who is unfortunately arthritic. She has been doleful as the cold has made her stiff joints even more painful, moaning and complaining even on her morning walk she otherwise revels in. What’s caused this sudden change in weather? A report in the Thursday edition of this newspaper, quoting the met office, attributes the current cold wave to, “The confluence between westerly and easterly winds over parts of central India has allowed cool winds to with a rise in wind speed.” That is the prosaic part. The next bit is important. “A rise in wind speed has allowed dispersion of pollutants from the city’s surface allowing for an improvement in air quality.’’ For a city that suffers from pollution-related problems, this is a natural panacea not to be spurned.

Mumbai’s winters are to be coveted because they are so rare as to be illusory. By this I mean when day temperatures go below 30 degrees centigrade and night below 20. These phases barely last a week, or even less, but can be transformative.

I am unreservedly a winter kind of person. The monsoon I enjoy, sweltering summers I loathe, but when the weather cools, it frees me up most, physically and mentally. The other day I strolled from the Press Club opposite the BMC headquarters, through the surrounding maidans -- Azad, Cross and Oval -- which were choc-a-bloc with kids playing cricket in cacophonous delight, bringing back memories of many happy hours spent here as a child. The months between November and March – particularly December and January -- always sees these maidans bursting with activity. The mellow sun makes playing sport less tiring. Parents too have to worry less about their wards getting dehydrated.

The arrival of Tibetans selling woollens outside the Azad and Cross Maidans, where Fashion Street stands now, would herald the start of the ‘cold season’ in Bombay, as it were. Alas, the Tibetans have become a virtual trickle in the past decade or so.

Walking obviously becomes a default activity for many in these months, as it would because it doesn’t leave one sweaty and mucky even during working hours. Personally, the courage to swim deserts me in these climes, but I can happily gobble up kilometres at a steady pace.

The past few days I’ve been beating up and down the Marine Drive promenade. The seductive charm of the Queen’s Necklace apart, my chartered accountant’s office is located near the flyover. The IT department has inundated my inbox (as that of millions of others I understand) with polite queries and intimations on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), etc. This is not an indictment of my tax submissions I am assured by my CA. “They are trying to ensure their quarterly targets are met,” he tells me. While he sorts out replies, I’ve been walking.

That the palate too changes with the season needs no telling. My winter craving used to be for tangy and spicy soups and broths. Scotch broth of Paradise at Colaba, unfortunately shut now, and paya soup at Nagpada’s Sarvi’s (thankfully still around), were long-standing favourites. The current preference is for sarson ka saag with makai ki roti. There are several restaurants across the city serving this, but it is best when home made, for which a true-blue Punjabi friend is crucial. Happily I have a few.What usually doesn’t change in this season in Mumbai is what people wear. As I write this, cold winds have howled and swept through the house leaving us in a shiver of sorts, and the thought crossed that perhaps there was need to buy a sweater. But it passed swiftly. I chided myself for being funk at squaring up to just 15-16 degrees centigrade and, with characteristic Mumbai bravado, have decided to go for a walk wearing a sleeveless T-shirt.

First Published: Jan 25, 2019 00:23 IST

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