Valley excited as winter sets in

 As the thick and broad autumnal leaves of chinar trees turn crimson and the weather signals an early onset of winter, Kashmiris are recalling grandmother’s tales, traditional practices and homecooked delectables.

The flames of the chinars have started making the Valley’s ambience fiery with autumn entering its final stage heralding winter’s arrival.

The minimum temperature is already hovering around two degree Celsius and Kashmiris fear winter has advanced.

“The minimum temperatures have fallen across the Valley. It is around two degrees below normal,” a  weather department official said.

The picturesque change in the Kashmir’s landscape is also making people recall the good old days when traditional practices would lessen the miseries of winter.

Traditional practice

“Nobody waited for the cooking gas or kerosene or electricity to cook food in Kashmir till the 1970s. Traditional hearths charged with firewood, dried leaves and dung cakes were used for all the cooking needs of the family,” said 70-year-old Master Habibullah in Chunduna village in Ganderbal district.

“Look at us today. Instead of enjoying life in the comfort of our homes, we are queuing up for everything — from kerosene, cooking gas and rations to what not!” Habibullah said.

He said children nowadays wasted their time watching television for stories and serials most of which did not gel with the area’s sensibilities.

“In our times, the best stories would be narrated by grandparents. Sitting around the hearth in a semi-dark room, grandpa’s tales of fairylands and charming princes flying to far-off lands on wooden horses would enliven the entire family,” Habibullah said.

In those days, instead of fast food, the treat for the family would be a fat duck cooked with turnips.

“That was called Shabdeg. The duck would be cooked with turnips in a sealed earthen vessel over a simmering fire for the entire night,” said a 73-year-old Fatima in Haripora village of Ganderbal.

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