With festivals, lights, crackers, wind and rain ( not this year), October leaves the mountains with fanfare and pomp, leaving behind quiet sunny days and bright blue skies with the Himalayas lithographed on the horizon.
November is the month of few tourists…the year end holiday makers, the serious trekkers, the snow seekers,they arrive in late winter, when the mountains just take your breath away.
November is all about slowing down, winding up the year, and getting ready for long winter evenings, and tiny sunny days. In our town, its the permanent residents who can be seen in the market, sharing a cup of tea and some jalebis or samosas, catching some sunshine on the left side of the road, and discussing life, instead of selling stuff or buying things.
I know when November has entered my heart and soul…
Every year, I tick off each sign and feel my Ranikhet roots go deeper into the hills.
It begins with the early morning rose tint on the mountain peaks, the orange and pink coloured clouds scudding across the grey sky, and that bracing breeze which greets the dogs and me every morning.
This creeper climbs its tree through the summer and monsoon months, and then turns into this curtain of autumn hues and copper shades. No winter evening walk is complete without standing and staring at this beautiful corner of the forest.
Those amazing mountains and the play of colours, clouds, snowfall and barren rocks. Wherever I go, the snow peaks watch me, glistening and shining in the distance, or barely visible through the grey clouds of winter.Always there, always silent, always splendid and always taking my breath away.
And then, my annual trip to the lovely hills and valley of Kausani and Garood…to stock up on locally grown and pounded rice, for the entire year. Knitter Meena and me do an early morning drive to her village, perched high on a mountain, with the Himalayas an arm stretch away. We catch up on her life, meet her family and bring back hugs, home grown rice, fruits and milk.
The changing colours of the horse chestnut leaves…they have thrown down their brown fruit balls, and the leaves turn into every imaginable shade of orange and yellow, before turning into crunchy heaps of colour which cover the forest floor. By December, the trees will be stark and bare, with no sign of life in the stick like branches.
Weddings and more weddings…I hear zingy and zany tunes floating up from the valley in the evenings ( when mahila sangeet is happening), pahadi songs to welcome the bridegroom party, and heart achingly familiar songs of seperation and loss, when bidai is happening. Busloads of singing relatives, floral decorations on big cars, and a complete absence of the usual Sumo taxis..its the wedding season alright!
The delightful spread of greens and veggies at the market, which make me want to eat them all..when paired with the delightful “lesu roti”, (a special winter roti, in which millet flour is used as a stuffing), my day is made.
The urge to buy wool, to poke around in the wall of wool set up in Rameshji’s shop, to start a project like no other, to create something truly warm and wonderful!
If nothing else, the desire to start a pair of socks..it only happens in November..