After a whole summer and autumn spent in the Southern India, returning home in the north during the winters is as alluring as it can get for me. During the last four years of my college education, the journey home during the winters has comprised of long train journeys spanning a good 2,700 kilometers which take a good amount of two whole days. People get tired of travelling the same route in the trains every year and they often ask me how I tolerate sitting for two days with absolutely nothing to do in the train. Well, for starters nobody has instructed you to strictly be seated in your berth for the entire duration of the journey! As for me, I spend most of my time standing by the coach’s door. Taking in the surreal beauty of the endless mountain ranges, the blue skies laced with white clouds and a continuous expanse of the green pastures and the forests as the train chugs through.
It’s fascinating to observe how different cultures associated with different regions pass by so quickly, reminding me of the cultural diversity of India and how they all coexist together in harmony. I make it a point to get off at major stations along the way and smell the new air it offers and especially to try the food items famous in that place. Although the train I travel on has a total of 52 stops along the way, I get down on at least 10 of them (violating the promises in the process that I made to my family that I won’t get off anywhere along).
After half the journey as the train reaches the state of Gujrat, that is when the cold starts creeping in and you see the smoke rising through your mouth every time you open it (which is my personal favorite moment during the winter seasons). The cold teases you. As if welcoming you to its kingdom and warning that it is just the beginning, which in all candor is.
The following day comes my hometown of Jodhpur, standing in all its glory in the Thar desert. Getting off the train and seeing my parents waving at me, smiling. This coupled with a sunny winter morning and the hustle bustle of the station completes the journey and gives a warm welcome home. I don’t experience the winters like people residing in the sub-arctic regions or near the Himalayas, with all those snow falls and snow flakes decorating the town. But it does get cold enough to redden your nose due to cold air with temperature ranging from 2 – 4°C.
The best part of the winter vacation is to hold a cup of hot chocolate and enjoying my favorite Lee Child novels, with mother continuously yelling at me for not helping her in the kitchen or with the chores (which usually is the case with people going home for the winter break). The lunch and dinner meals consist of exotic rajasthani dishes, not the usual roti and sabzi. My baby sister riles at the fact that mama mostly makes good food when I’m home and she also thinks that mama doesn’t care for her anymore since I, being a college student have assumed more importance in the house (which strictly are the thoughts of my wary baby sister).
All in all, winter is the time of happiness for me. From eating plum cakes on Christmas to drinking hot chocolates on the new year and getting to wear new collection of jackets and sweaters of different companies.