Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Winter's coming. And I love winter, just for its mornings. The feel of waking up tucked under a quilt from chin to toe, curled up like a satisfied hedgehog, reaching for the kolbalish. Almora bhanga. That moment when you hug yourself tight and feel the heat breaking through pinnacles of ice and the alarm isn't ringing because there isn't any school. I can't have enough of such mornings.

I went to Sandakphu when I was a littler child than I am now. And we waited outside the car on a frozen road while a Nepali driver fiddled with the jack to mend a punctured tyre. I remember I had been absolutely determined to see snow, touch it, taste it. And now, across a stream, the snow lay thick under a copse of threadbare trees. Mounds of it, empty and white and without a shadow of a footprint. I squinted at it through red, watering eyes, picturebook winterland that it was, and begged to be let back in the car, to be taken back to the hotel. And so we went.

I still love all the typical Hallmark-card signs of winter. The snowflakes that never grace Calcutta, the leaping light of the hearth fire, the perfect cutouts of Christmas trees little children make in art class. But I love it from a distance, from the other side of the windowpane. Yes, I love the red and green that never looked so good, the smell of plum cake, and the veneer of genteel comfort that's there one second and vanishes when the frost sets in. And perhaps that's the best way to love what you don't know.