Winter is coming

October 16, 2022

Bracing ourselves for the many wonders of the winter wonderland

Winter is coming


magine a young man, hunched over in front of the television with a group of friends, just about to finish his last slice of pizza, posture befitting a church bell-ringer, his vision is locked on his phone. It beeps and bops periodically while he traces his eyes vertically across the screen as if he is reading Japanese. He is parsing some important information. It beeps one last time before it starts ringing. He gets up and fixes his tote bag around his waist. His Careem ride has arrived.

It was time to leave. I had had a great time with some old friends. Old not in terms of age, but how long I’d known them. I was out this late after a long time since I’m usually on a work-home-work routine. Now the party was ending, and it was the dreaded moment of departure. I put on my “stonks” face and began the calculations. It was a long way, so it was going to be a bike. I considered everything, from the number of rides the captain had previously taken to their average rating to the manufacturer of his motorcycle. I made my choice.

The ride arrived, I got on the bike and we left. That’s when I realised it, Lahore was cold. Lahore was undeniably and inordinately cold. And only yesterday, I had been sweating in a suffocating traffic jam while returning home. But this evening was indisputably pleasant; so much so that I broke into a smile.

This evening was indisputably pleasant; so much so that I broke into a smile.

I turned to look around and noticed the chilly energy of greenery oscillating in the wind. Cool tones dominate. The brown of the summer nights has given way to the dark blue of winter. The flora smell different, more damp and woody, in a good way, of course. Thoroughly unprepared for the journey and having started shivering along the way, I thought fleece, tweed and wool were probably being pulled out of cupboards across the nation in preparation for the season ahead. A clever hawker has set up warm socks and mittens, staples in the coming cold season for Lahoris. The only thing he missed was KN-95 masks to deal with the late October smog.

Taking a moment to notice the changing seasons, memories of winters past rushed into my head. The first morning of the year, when it would feel chilly in the bones, I’d be standing in the school assembly and excitedly suggest to my classmate, “Aaj thand hai.” Each year someone or the other was found mentioning how there was a time it used to snow in Lahore as if the penetrating, sharp nights in January are not enough to make you thank your ancestors for discovering fire.

Strolling up the street leading to my home, I came across a vendor selling roasted peanuts, the ultimate harbinger of winter. It got me thinking of all the delicacies about to crowd the market streets nearby. Of course, nothing comes close to a generationally preserved gajar ka halwa recipe, served with some Kashmiri chai. It tastes particularly decadent when shared with family or friends huddled in a blanket over multiple warm layers of clothing.

Winter also brings with it the dreaded and adored wedding season, when the nation must prepare outfits, jewellery, shoes and whatnot to be battle-ready and gobble delicious free food before the marriage hall shuts down at 10pm. This is also going to be an underlying theme for a lot of vain social media content in the months to follow.

In Lahore, it feels like it is finally that time of the year when people must head towards the markets to stock up on winter clothing before it gets too expensive. The season oscillates between the chilly stillness of the winter night and the warm embrace of the morning sun. We must brace ourselves for a season of infants in amusing beanies, chapped lips and a quadrupled appetite, along with the many wonders of the winter wonderland.

The writer is a staff member  

Winter is coming