Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Missing the North Indian winters

Bangalore Dec 2011. Waiting for corn to get roasted.
Bangalore does not get cold like Delhi or most of North India so I had not realized it was December and winter already. Then last night I walked back home near midnight and it was a little cold. Some darwans - security guys - had gotten a makeshift bonfire going. We had stood by a cart as corn was grilled on coals. The air was slight misty and the roads suspiciously empty.

I grew up in North India with very chilly winters. When we were little there was no central heating. Winter bought little coal firepots that were placed in the bedrooms. We would warm our feet over them. Washed clothes would be hung around the fire - on chairs and clothes racks. With time the coal heaters were replaced by electric ones - the rectangle things with three angry red coils but the clothes rack stayed the same - layered with damp clothes that kept the room humid and warm.

Bangalore Dec 2011. Waiting for jalebis to get cooked.
Winter also brought the hot, calorie dense comfort foods. Suddenly all the carts in the market were fitted with coal grills, huge griddles or fryers. Many still had the signs and prices for ice cream, kulfi and fruit salads from summer but were now selling chicken rolls, roasted fresh corn, pakoras and hot jalebis. We'd huddle around the cart, our breath fogging the air as we warmed our fingers while waiting for the hot snacks.

There were huge displays outside stores showcasing yarns of wool that aunts would buy and knit into questionably fashionable sweaters. Groups of people wrapped in checkered blankets huddled around makeshift bonfires was a common sight.

So today I took another walk and found fresh hot jalebis. They were good but nothing compared to the ones you get up North. I don't think it was the taste that made them average. There is just something else about eating them when your breath fogs up the air.

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