Now the west may well have all that sappy poetry about the first signs of spring — all those frolicking lambs and burgeoning buds heralding the change of season — but here in more robust north India (yes OK, OK, Delhi) we have our very own harbingers of our very own favourite season.
And I am thrilled to announce that Winter Has Officially Started.
I had my first harbinger this morning, while out running.
There it was.
A street dog warmly wrapped up in a visibly hand-me-down dog coat. The tartan of the dog-coat was faded, the straps to tie it were mismatched, but there it was, in all its ragged glory. A kind hearted soul had passed on this hand-me-down winter coat to the resident street pooch.
And then, lo and behold, a mere two minutes later, further confirmation that Winter Is Definitely Here — my first sparkly sweater sighting. And it was a cracker. An absolute gem of a first sighting. Sleeveless, as all self-respecting sparkly knitted sweaters should be. And in the most fabulous gentle peach colour. Worn by a bloke on a bike, who cycled gravely past, unaware he had just made my morning.
Now for those of you who don't live up here in North India...well, sorry for you, but you have no idea of the fabulousness of our winter sparkly woolly jumpers. These are, I kid you not, knitted with sparkly wool. As in gorgeous sparkly wool that glints and shines in the winter sun, and they are utterly OTT wonderful. They are usually worn by men and the best examples are definitely the sleeveless V-necked variety.
As a sure-fire signal of the onset of the cold weather, these glittery jumpers couldn't be more perfect.
You see, it's all in the symbolism.
Their lack of sleeves hints at just that little bit of cold, but not yet the freezing bitingly cold weather to come.
Their sparkliness takes full advantage of our winter sunshine.
And their colours...ah yes, their colours.
Today's gentle peach was a new shade for me, avid visual collector that I am of the Delhi sparkly jumper. Classic colours are purple, fire engine red, and a fabulous in-your-face orange. So this morning's soft peach was a revelation.
I'd hate you to think that I am not committed to this whole sparkly jumper scenario, and so let me state my credentials right here and now. My young driver has a pretty fabulous sparkly sweater that he loves to wear in the winter: it's an eye-wateringly bright striped turquoise and navy blue combo that certainly wakes you up in the morning, if that coffee hasn't worked.
And the cook's wife, dear lady that she is, has knitted me a maroon sparkly wool scarf which also has beads in it.
Pretty damn fantastic.
All this talk of colour and sparkliness leads me seamlessly onto the whole colour thing in India. In my native Blighty, in the winter, everyone looks dark, is dark, feels dark. Grey skies, night closing in at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone muffled up in dark sensible coloured coats. Whereas here in India...banish all such dullness and drabness and wear sparkly peach. Or turquoise stripes. Or scarves with sparkles and beads.
The colour-and-India paradigm is an endlessly fascinating one. A product of northern England, with grey skies and grey drizzle-y rain as part of my DNA, the bright intensity of India knocked me sideways when I first arrived here 3 decades ago. All those pinks and oranges. Together. And looking amazing.
India (plus, let's be honest, getting older) means increasingly throwing colour caution to the winds. If ever a country inspired those famous lines "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat" it should've been India.
Purple and red combo? Totally.
Add a dash of sparkle, and you're spot on.
Bring it on, Delhi. Winter is officially declared.
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