Winter: Here to Stay


Irtif Lone

All around the world, winter as a season is understood differently depending upon the geographical situation of a state or nation. My idea of winter has been shaped by quarter a century of living in Kashmir valley, geographically positioned in Himalayas, with fertile lands and beautiful lakes is of cold, snow and chilling days.

Summers in Kashmir are pleasant while the winters are harsh. It sets in gradually and then peaks out. And the culmination of winters is the forty day period known as Chillai Kalaan which starts on 21st of December. This phenomenon repeats itself every year. And so did this year. With Kashmir already having had first snowfall of the season, streets have already turned icy. The long fur boots have hit the streets, which were banished to store rooms in summers. And for the next three months, we should accept the way it is now and not think of pleasant summer days.

We know it comes every year, at the same time each year, but that doesn’t stop us from complaining about the cold, and the snow, and the ice. Every year the temperature dips below zero degrees, freezing everything around including water taps, diesel cars and even the Dal Lake, making it an ice skating venue for kids. Snowfall is frequent in this period and has longer life. Everything is covered in a white snow blanket, a perfect photographic opportunity nowadays, when the social networking sites are flourishing with people sharing their lives online. It by all means is wonderful experience to have. I remember as a kid making snow bunkers, big enough for a couple of people to sit in and using icicles as rockets. Making snowman is one of the celebrated events of kids when it snows.

It kind of dumb founds me that people are surprised that it’s cold and snowy in Kashmir. That somehow the city and weather are conspiring against them. Its winter in Kashmir- it’s going to be cold. The chilly winter temperatures shouldn’t stop the fun and activities in Kashmir, winter should be enjoyable as the other seasons. Nothing makes Kashmir as beautiful as the white snow blanket all around. The silence of wintry nights and the chilling cold days makes one believe in the serenity of nature.

As the temperature dips, harissa — the ‘perfect and preferred breakfast’ — draws in crowds from old, urban areas of Kashmir. And the smell of cooking dried vegetables is mesmerising, another delicacy one gets to eat in winters.

None the less, there are problems also. One that the state remains cut of from the rest of the world owing to snowfall which halts and restricts the traffic on the only surface link to the rest of the world. And the non availability of electricity to the people who are in the dire need of the same all through the winters, and plunging the valley into era of darkness while being one of the largest electricity producing state.

There are various steps which need to be taken to improve the winter life in Kashmir. But the fact remains, winters brings us together in cold and shivering misery like nothing else. Ask any Kashmiri how we can stand to live here and deal with winter and we’ll likely say that we live for summer. It’s the very thought of summer in Kashmir that keeps us going all winter long.

In winters, Kashmir is left to destiny with the Darbar moving to the winter capital, Jammu. In order to set the house right, there is an immense need for the state government to reschedule the Darbar months. In the months of summer, Darbar should be in Jammu and in winters should be shifted to Srinagar. That’s when the administration is needed at those places and not the other way around.

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