I have experienced some of the coldest winters in places like Aberdeen and Zurich as well as on top of the Alps on a weekend trip just to experience it. But the winter that I will now share with you was special and oft remembered and shared with others for its sheer magic.
Immediately after our marriage and honeymoon, I was posted to Delhi to set up an efficient Trademark Protection cell because my then employer was having a lot of problems of infringement, counterfeit and passing off of their trademarks. I was given some cursory training with our solicitors in Mumbai and was asked to report to Delhi on the 15th of December 1968, a date that I will never forget.
While my late wife, then a brand new bride just getting used to the funny ways of a Management Trainee husband working for a British company, had previous experience of winters in North India, having been a teacher in Patiala for a couple of years, I had never been to the North of India during winters.
Neither of us had enough financial resources between the two of us to properly equip ourselves for Delhi’s winter, nor had wardrobes geared for that kind of weather. I had hit rock bottom with my resources with expenditure on the wedding and our honeymoon. We simply decided that love will conquer all and landed in Delhi in the late evening when there was a power cut and there were no lights in the railway station. The company had arranged for us to be met at the station and escorted to a hotel and we managed to reach the hotel without mishap but felt the cold of Delhi all right.
My first priority was to get paying guest accommodation as I could not afford to live in a hotel and I was very lucky to find a wonderful landlady thanks to the help given to us by a friend who had lived in Delhi for many years. The accommodation consisted of one room on the first floor of a two storied semi detached home and one room on the terrace called a Barsati. (A Barsati (meaning for rains) apartment means a small rooftop room or a small apartment on the top floor of a house.) The bathroom facilities were on the terrace and there was a lean-to shed to organize a kitchen if we wanted.
On day three we moved to the place and when the land lady saw our luggage, she was astounded to see that we had no bedding, quilts or anything like that and asked us what our plans were. When I said that I intended to hire some furniture mattresses etc, she promptly guided me to a regular hirer of such items whose clientele was usually people getting guests for special occasions like family weddings etc. The same friend who had introduced me to the landlady also gave some bed sheets to tide us over and for the next ten days till my next payday, we managed with just that.
From January 1969, with both of us with slightly increased funding, we were comfortable with warm clothes, proper sheets etc and with hired furniture we were able to set up our first home in that Barsati. Urmeela even arranged to get some potted plants to brighten up the terrace and with the landlady, teaching her how to cook, she even managed to learn to make tea, breakfast and dinner though, we had most of our meals out because she too went off to work in a studio and I to my office and in the evenings we would go to one of the many nearby eateries called dhabhas for inexpensive but nutritious food.
We were posted to Delhi again in 1980 to 1983 and enjoyed three wonderful winters there again, but the first winter without proper clothes, inadequate funds and a makeshift home, was truly a winter’s tale which coincided with our very first home, that we reminisced about often sharing our story with other young newly married couple facing similar problems.
This topic was suggested by Maria the gaelikaa for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort. The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Ashok, gaelikaa, Lin, Maxi, Padmum, Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!