Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flaky thoughts

As a child I remember always badgering my father to take us to Kashmir. Reason? All the snow. In retrospect today I wonder where that inexplicable fixation to that white cotton volatility really stemmed from. It could have been the popcorn candy laced Yash Raj movies that celebrated snow as if it was some sort of divine ingredient that made love such a special experience. It could also have been the fact that most places that we lived in growing up – Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and even New Delhi – never saw an inch of snow even in their own versions of ‘winter’. I still remember pelting tiny cubes of tasteless and watery ice from the refrigerator at my equally enthusiastic brother as we played the ‘snow game’ pretending we were flinging snowballs at each other as we ran around the living room in our vests while mom screamed at us from the kitchen. As juvenile as such episodes seem now I could not help revisit them today as I returned home from work after being generously sprayed with cold and fresh snow flakes falling lazily from the grey skies. It is winter in Copenhagen and so the heavens have now decided to flourish us with some intense snowfalls.

Anyway, the irony of it was this – I disliked it a little. In fact I couldn’t wait to get inside, get out of the moist woolen jacket and get into a warm pair of dry clothes. I couldn’t stand the constant landing of haphazardly vicious snow pellets that seemed determined to annoy me no end. It was somehow nostalgic and frustrating at the same time as I tried so desperately to think of why on God’s green earth we used to be so fascinated by snow back in the day. Was it because we had never really seen it? Was it because we had somehow put up a mantle for it that was so high and dramatic that it seemed unattainable? I don’t know for sure. But I couldn’t quite connect the dots that made kids like me crazy about snow in those days.

I still remember the sheer surge of adrenaline that had cut through our bodies when we had spotted the first genuine layers of hard snow mounds on our way to the holy shrine of Kedarnath in North India as we rode on the back of a tired pony. Despite our sore bottoms we had jumped off of its back and chased each other throwing generous lumps of white blissful snowballs at one another as dad clicked photographs from the distance wrapped in a bright red sweater and a grey colored ‘monkey cap’. Fun times indeed!

My next big connection with snow came when I visited the United States for the first time in 2000 for Xmas. All of the Washington and Baltimore area had been covered with heavy snowfall and I still remember feeling numb with emotion as I played mercilessly in it with my cousins. It was good while it lasted, I guess. But then somehow that fascination went away…until I moved to Europe in 2007. My first Xmas in 2007 brought with it a gracious serving of the white miracle one evening. I remember walking out of the apartment that day and standing mesmerized at my very first ‘resident snowfall’ – translation, my first snow fall in a place I actually lived in and wasn’t a tourist at. It was good for a day, maybe two, oh what the heck, three days! But then that fascination began to fade. I got sick with cold and couldn’t wait to experience the brazen heat that our good friend – the sun – used to provide. I craved for days where I could just walk to the supermarket wearing a T Shirt, jeans and sandals. I used to long for days when I didn’t have to get dressed in six different woolen accessories just to throw out the garbage. It was an interestingly different time as my attitude towards snow and everything about it seemed to have changed a bit.

But then there is also something else to it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was still unattached back then and the sight of love-happy couples walking quietly amid snow laden streets made me look away. Maybe it was the fact that, much like the Yash Raj features, I didn’t have anyone to sing ‘dekha ek khwaab to yeh silsilay hue…’ like Bachchan Sr. as a lissome Rekha crooned from across the frozen lake in a turtle neck pull over. I am not sure. But luckily, with that aspect of my life taking a much appreciated turn, I am now hoping the next time winter comes along I should be a much happier man. Doesn’t that sound reasonable now?



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