‘Tadpaaye tarsaaye, saari raat jagaaye. Pyaar tera Dilli ki sardi.’
These words in Shweta Shetty’s haunting voice may have originally been intended to ring with sexual suggestion, but all they now do is make a wave of nostalgia rise in our longing hearts. To those that have lived through the famously cold winters of the country’s capital in the past, they’re mere taunts.
There was once a time when winter came to Delhi with the resolve of a Punjabi mother bringing you your fifth parantha ’cause ‘abhi kuch khaaya hi kahan hai!’ But, in case you hadn’t noticed, those days are a thing of the past. Winters in Delhi today are nothing more than a ghost of that resolute blast chill that we remember.
Think about it. Back in the day, going out in the Delhi winter meant bundling up in so many layers, the whole city looked like it was collectively participating in a contest of ‘Who Can Wear Everything They Own All At Once’.
Remember the many times the city threatened near-freezing temperatures and you thought your nose was going to freeze and fall off ’cause it was literally the only bit of you that was uncovered and you just needed to breathe! And now, all we need is one sweater, possibly a scarf, and we’re good to go. Laanat hai.
Persistent as ever, these were winters that gave us memories of waking up to completely dark and foggy mornings as kids.
Getting ready for school involved showering in the mind-numbing cold and getting dressed literally from head to toe in caps, mufflers, gloves and the works. And hoping to dear God that it would get even colder the next day, just so that school would shut down for a day or two.
The cold was such that it gave us a city riddled with thoroughly amused fog-breathing kids, tea-coffee dukaans thronging with people looking for heaven in a tiny warm cup, bonfires and angeethis with small crowds around them everywhere you looked.
And as brutal as those winters were, they had a charm that we know only now that they’ve been replaced by the faint, distant cousin of a winter that is this one.
There are a few that, for better or for worse, will never know the unadulterated bliss that we got sitting in the winter sun and making the absolute most of that sweet, sweet sunshine every chance we got.
I speak of winters that simply demanded that you ate pakodas fresh out of the kadhai while bottomless cups of chai sat snug in both your hands. Winters that made your bones chatter, but your soul purr.
The world is changing, and realistically, we may never have those heavenly winters back again. So here’s a wistful tribute to winter that may have looked like a nothing more than a cold season to the world, but which to every Dilliwala, was a celebration of warmth.