Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Gaul revisited

Christmas arrives in a couple of days. This year, I haven't yet felt the buzz. But sure I will, as we put up little stockings and do up our tree today. A real pine tree which has grown taller than me. The best part is I am not going to cut and kill it. It will stand in its pot and breathe and laugh as we fuss around it.

Add to it there is a chill in the air and it's making me walk around the house in granny socks. More for old time's sake than any real need of desperate warmth. Hubby finds them really ugly and calls me names. And I say he should have seen me long long ago when Christmas time had me in granny stockings, cap and muffler. And now for added value, I add the stooped shuffling walk too.

Oh, how the winters were spent with a heater which had coal pieces. As we huddled around listening to stories that loomed larger than life. In the night, the shadows grew bigger and took life as we watched in revered amazement. Hot dinners were relished using as little of the hands as possible. Taking off your gloves or taking out your hands from the cocooned warmth was painful. And today I wonder how the dishes got done. Slowly my heart fills up as my mom's calm face flash in front of me.

We longed to get into bed. The first minute of slipping under the heavy quilt was numbing and slowly as the warmth spread all over comfortably, there would be that dreaded feeling. Oh no! But how long can a bladder hold in winter?

The mornings brought with it a dew fresh day. Fog and mist covered the world. Cheeks are rubbed with cold cream as I cycle or jog down the lane. I cannot see much ahead and am glad for the cream that shields my uncovered face and lips. I wait for the sun. Sometimes it appears briefly, sometimes it doesn't. I can no longer see the outline of the blue mountains that are so clearly visible on a clear summer day. I don't even see the tall trees which are much closer, all around our little town. Maybe just a hint of it for that assurance of familiarity. I always wondered how the winter nights had a clear steely moon freezing everything in sight but the days were dunked in fog.

And then Christmas arrives and we celebrate it as always. Our parents never went to new year parties leaving us kids at home. I remember having a good dinner with family and friends and going to bed long before midnight. There was a reason for that. Because on the first day of the new year, we got up early and excited. It was the picnic day! A huge number of people got into a bus and drove off to the picture perfect riverside. We seemed to know all the kids and the all the parents knew each other. Checkered sheets were spread and while the elders got down to having their own laughs and organising the food, we kids played around or went to explore the wilderness further off.

And picnics those days meant that a huge feast was spread out with everything cooked from scratch at the site itself. So amidst much merry making, vegetables were chopped and chicken, ducks and fish were ready to be roasted. In no time there were fires burning and huge cauldrons hanging over them. The aroma carried for miles and we followed it back at lunchtime. Strangely I don't remember carrying water for all the cooking and cleaning. The crystal clear spring water was used and nobody had ever heard of water borne diseases till then. There was a lot of cheer and laughter. Much like a scene straight out of an Asterix comics, now that I think of it. And I think we did have a bard too. Except he wasn't called Cacafonix.


Blogger Geo said...

Wish you a merry Xmas and a happy new year :_)

7:20 am  
Blogger Akruti said...

"When the days were filled with simple pleasures and the night full of dreams of a wonderful tomorrow,To that world you carried me with the words there"
Merry Christmas:) I will be back to wish again and again.

9:05 am  
Blogger Ardra said...

anumita, u'r xmas celebrations ( last years post)sounded like straight from Aesop's fables- such a wonderful picture-
and here where I live- this place is known for "agninakshathram" summers more than anything- and yet the december months see me huddled up in sweaters, monkey caps- needless to say my hubby finds it very funny!
i went to a college run by nuns- and I used to be a memebr of the choirgroup- the midnight masses were out of this world...the trudge as a group in the dark to the chapel was a memorable experience...

Wish you a Very merry Xmas and Happy New Year...and like you said wish nobod went hungry...

9:30 am  
Blogger Parna said...

ahh...childhood. those years were wonderful. i used to wait for dad to come back from the christmas eve parties and get us those caps and bhopus. and mornings were marked by cutting a plumcake. what years.....

10:04 am  
Blogger shub said...

byootiful! :D

2:38 pm  
Anonymous amitken said...

WoW! thanks for taking me along to the new year picnic in your small town through this post of yours :)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.


3:51 pm  
Blogger Abhishek said...

ok...so wihin u a happy x'mas...
n a rocking new yr.
may all ur dreams turn to reality.

5:51 pm  
Blogger Prerona said...

Anu, what pretty memories you have! and way of telling them that brings to mind gentle winter sunshine and hot ada-cha

6:25 pm  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Beautiful girl! What a well painted picture. The ending with those images of 2 inch waisted women with 45 in chests balancing wild cooked boar with peas scattered around on platters had me smiling in recollection too.

2:06 am  
Blogger sinusoidally said...

What's stopping you now? Organize a picninc and celebrate it the old fashioned way for childhood's sake!

Happy new year.

5:10 am  
Blogger Nupur said...


Reminds me of my school days when one year Ihad this crazy idea to decorate my own christmas tree and made Papa go and hunt everywhere for a pine tree!! :D

Lazy with granny socks or not - you should make the effort and go have a picnic! this time round tho' you'll be the grownups. ;)

7:44 am  
Blogger Shruthi said...

What a beautiful and nostalgic account! And very well-written.
The chill in the air + festive atmosphere is such a great combination!
And I know exactly what you mean by being comfy in granny socks :))
And yes, thanks for stopping by my blog :)

11:03 am  
Blogger One More Reason said...

Aaah ! the asterix comics. They made me hungry everytime all the time. Merry Christmas

11:28 am  
Blogger n.g. said...

and of course, the only thing we should be afraid of is the sky falling on our heads.

2:47 pm  
Blogger paddy said...

happy xmass and merry new year ;)
i vow not to do even a single thing in the right way . ofcourse if thats my ny resolution then i am ought to do everything right next year.

10:54 pm  
Blogger AF said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

12:00 am  
Blogger hope and love said...

lovely post...Wish you a merry Xmas and a happy new year ..!!

10:13 am  
Blogger anumita said...

geo, shub, amitken, abhishek, paddy, AF, hope & love: Thank you guys! And I wish you guys a merry christmas too!

11:19 am  
Blogger anumita said...

akruti: And your comment transported me back again! Merry Christmas!

ardra: Thank you! Isn't is a great feeling to cosy up in woollens during this time?

parna: Wow! Caps and bhopus! Weren't they great years!!

prerona: Winter sun! What a luxury it was then! Since I dont have tea, I would just smell the ada cha.

11:33 am  
Blogger anumita said...

gratis: No no! There were no 2 inch waists!! They were more like 45 inch all over. But love and laughter flowed from all those inches!

sinusoidally: You are right! I think we ll do a picnic on new years. Though the crowd and location is going o=to be really different.

nupur: So are you having a tree this year? Yes, will be fun to be on the grown ups side, I think.

shruthi: Welcome and thank you :)

one more reason: I know, they made me hungry too and make me wish that I belonged there. Merry Christmas to you too.

nish: You bet! Imagine me being held up on a shield and carted everywhere!!

11:40 am  
Blogger venkat said...

ANUMITA,DELIGHTFUL TO READ. I wonder about that small town in Assam!Happy Holiday season and wonderful NEW YEAR.

1:04 pm  
Blogger Mukta said...

Hi Anumita,

Merry Christmas and well, I have tagged you so....

10:20 pm  
Blogger Minal said...

Wishes always, anumita

1:29 pm  
Blogger transience said...

hope you're enjoying the holidays, honey!

12:08 pm  
Anonymous sherriff said...

real pine tree which u will not be cutting...three cheers for that..."More for old time's sake than any real need of desperate warmth"...thats an ingenious way of reliving ur childhood....Merry Christmas Anumita

6:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


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7:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well written. and its always gud to read abt reminiscence. one can very well relate to it. maybe cos we ve a tendency to glorify the past but it still feels gud to read abt the past. nice post.

8:06 pm  
Blogger Gangadhar said...

Wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous Newyear!!

4:43 pm  
Blogger jaygee said...

Wow your description of winter is exactly how I am right now with layers upon layers and leaving for work in the morning is no mean feat!
Your picnic sounds straight out of an Enid Blyton book.. I want one too.. come soon tpp Delhi.. may be we could replicate?

6:55 pm  
Anonymous colours said...

Do pine trees survive in Bombay? That is amazing - perhaps I should get one when I go back - I just love them.

1:28 pm  
Blogger WA said...

Wish you a very happy new year Anumita

11:54 pm  
Blogger Parna said...

Happy New Year babes.

4:28 am  
Blogger Raccoon said...

yayy..this reminded me of a christmas and new year which I spent in Sikkim...it was soooo cold!!!!!!!! I get the shivers just remembering of it:-D

10:56 am  

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