Do seasons have an unsettling impact on you, year after year? It’s not always the disturbing kind of effect, rather some inexplicable transition in the overall mood and essence of living. It might not happen to everyone, but I’d like to believe that seasons and climates stir and muddle a lot of emotions in me. Growing up in India, I’ve learned that there are six seasons – spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, pre-winter and winter. I can vouch having witnessed all six of them at least till two decades ago. Spring and pre-winter (called Hemanta in Bangla) were the two most enigmatic seasons in my childhood. Hemanta was a very dainty season, fragile in its appearance, ever so transient for a few days post autumn. From mid-October till the beginning of December, the air at dawn would be laden with fine dew droplets, drenching flowers in the garden, rendering everything fresh. Those few days would perceive a subtle change with a nip in the morning air. The pre-winter sun would mellow down and turn a little yolky late morning. Just as Kali pujo/Diwali passed every year, people in West Bengal would gear up for the diaphanous pre-winter season, prepping to collect date palm sap to be turned into jaggery. No wonder M’s father was named Hemanta as he was born on 2nd November.
Spring has been more conspicuous to me as I lived out of India, in the US, UK and now Belgium. The passage from winter to spring is almost like a shock in the upper parts of Northern Hemisphere. Since winter is often harsh and beating, spring appears as a big relief with a platter of colours and flowers. There’s a bit of sunshine thrown in too for good measures. Leaves spring out of nowhere on seemingly dead trees, tulips galore in most places; surprisingly the city councils and communes gear up to plant new saplings in all cul-de-sacs and public gardens. It is indeed surprising to me, as I’d love to see municipalities in Indian cities invest just that fragment on public environment.
I like spring. I like the freshness in the air, still crisp and cold though if you are in Europe. It might even snow and yet it is spring. I have missed the chance to click snow on tulips this year. Spring has been instrumental in instilling some hope post humid and horribly cold winters for the past few years. I’d even go so far as to proclaim that spring is my go-to season these days. I stayed in Calcutta this spring and it was almost non-existent to a saddening point, barring a few Laburnum and Palash/Butea blooms.
Summer – the least of my favourites in the Indian sub-continents. Every chore I do in Indian summer has the propensity to leave me drenched in sweat and panting for breath. Summers are harsh here, in this part of the world and global warming is making it worse every year. The season wasn’t this bad though three decades ago. The unbearable heat of the day would be cooled off by breezes and Norwesters that we fondly term Kalboishakhi in Bengal. Dark clouds and thunders rumbling would take off the heat from the earth and bring some relief. They have become rare though. We hardly had two or three Kalboishakhi this year with just temporary respite. I know people who detest winter and love summer. My sympathies are with them, I cannot stand the scorch.
Monsoon is one of my favourite seasons in India. I have grown up being enamoured by the monsoon in Bengal, revelling in the thunderstorms, the cooled down climate, the impromptu khichuri-machh bhaja lunches and watching the incessant rains by the window. Monsoon used to last for more than two months in Bengal with intermittent sunny, balmy days. The seasons have all been jumbled up now with environmental disruptions. This year, monsoon has arrived at the predicted time but it is sporadic. In monsoon, Calcutta appears like a newly washed kid after playing in the mud with schoolmates. It gets dirty, too, and that part is not adorable at all. I loved the monsoon in Bombay as well, although that turns out to be disastrous most of the years, tending to flood. The season was far more enjoyable in Pune. Monsoon came with a flourish in that city, with the nearby Western Ghat hills sprucing up in their green finery. The weather cooled down to the level of bringing out quilts and devouring cups of caffeine throughout the day with various fried food. We had made some amazing trips to the hills of Malshej and Khandala in monsoon.
This year is half gone already and I have experienced these three seasons here in Calcutta. I’d love to spend another favourite season, autumn, in Brussels though as there are endless opportunities to admire nature’s beauty and click photographs. Which is your favourite season? Let me know in the comments.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.