Till then, I am scrambling around like a mad thing trying to do all that I need to do to ensure that the world keeps spinning for the next month. Completing sundry spreadsheets, presentations, and following up on correspondence at work. Making sure everything perishable / fermentable is out of the house. Arranging things so that we dont need to do major excavation when we return. Making sure all dues are paid, the plants are taken care of, everything that needs to be protected is sealed. Pre-holiday primping has taken a back seat, though hopefully tonight will be a spa night.
But it is so worth it. A day in delhi, buying gifties. 20 hours of scrabble and conversation time in the train with my Mian. Some days in Goa, revisiting old favourites and finding new ones. Celebrating our anniversary where we spent our honeymoon. Feeling incredibly lucky and thankful for the last year. Some days in my home town with mum. Eating fish cooked by her, visiting my school, my childhood beach, my favourite haunts, the cakes of Experto Bakery. Going to Pune. Hugging family (after a year!). Discovering my niece is now as tall as me (not taller, no matter what the measure says), seeing her wearing lipstick, seeing the teen chicu in her and thinking 'oh no..not again.' Food, drink, laughter, love, warmth. Meeting old friends, rewinding life by nearly a decade, visiting old haunts, being giggly, shopping, makeup counters, gossip, exclamations. A training program. Learning, being awestruck, coming home to mum's meals at night. More conversation, more warmth. Raiding mum's crockery. 'Stealing' her mother's cookware. Going through my beloved books, selecting far too many to bring back. Entreating Mian to carry lamps and furniture back to our Dun home.
My daily phone calls to mum have had a pretty consistent theme over the last couple of months: 'Its cold here, mum. I cant stand it.'
I welcome winter when it comes. After the scarcity of the monsoons, lush veggies begin to fill the markets. Winter greens: fenugreek, mustard, assorted spinaches, beet and radish greens, strange water-loving leaves and winter roots: turnips, multiple varieties of radishes, beets, carrots dominate the stalls. Zucchini, pumpkins and brassicas are cheap and plenty. With these and assorted beans, I make warming soups- a different one each day. My Mian creates magic with greens- making pestos, and tortellini, and all manner of wonderful things. We don't need to worry about cooking too much either. In the summer and the monsoon, foods spoil with distressing rapidity. Rice cooked in the afternoon often spoils by the evening. But the winter! we can comfortably keep cooked food, opened cartons, even milk overnight and find it sweet and fresh.
It might be cold and dark outside, but I warm up the house with materials the colour of jewels. My old chanderi sarees, assorted bright woolens, heaps of citrus fruits and bright green branches glow in golden light and banish the dark from our home. Natural fabrics, rough weaves and candles try to create warmth. We have popcorn, and hot chocolate, and exotic teas. The bed is heaped with quilts and throws. Paraffin wax-and-oil unguents are created and religiously applied. After the hot summer and humid monsoons, there is pleasure in dressing in layers, in welcoming the feel of cloth on ones skin.
All this is fine in moderation. As far as I am concerned, December is where it should end. I would like to not dread climbing into a chilly bed, or having once warmed it up, dread climbing out again. I would like my fingers to not feel like needles are being shoved into them every time I do the laundry. I would like my skin to not resemble that of an alligator. Enough, I say beseechingly. We've barely begun, say the himalayas.
If the mountains wont budge, its time for us to..in two weeks, Mian and I travel south. We visit my hometown, spend time with family. It has been a year since I've been there- an entire year since I've been home. The warmth of loved ones and actual hot weather- I cant think of a better combination. So excited and happy.
And in 48 hours, my Mian comes home. So very excited and happy.