Edith Sitwell said, ”Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home,” and is winter for the people of Karachi.
When sellers with carts begin roaming with roasted munchies, when the thick woolen blankets, sweaters, and shawls are once again unloaded from those huge iron boxes, the people in Karachi gear up to meet some dips and dives in their city’s temperature.
These cold winds last for no more than two months, and their arrival is met with enthusiasm, as the new season brings in a myriad of changes, from the clothing to the food to the hangouts.
The cold air, heavy with foggy moisture before the dawn, creates a refreshing sense of soothing in the ambience. A combination of cool breeze and warmth oozing from the sky gives the inhabitants of Karachi the relished start they yearn for.
One certainly goes through winter adjustments. Getting out from under the blankets seems a tough job, and standing in front of the stove seems the most pleasurable of all.
Cocooning in warm leather jackets, shawls, and sweaters, the children, men, and women set off. Mugs of teas and coffees, wrapped tightly between hands, prove to be the best companions. Children puffing hot air through cupped hands are a common view on such early mornings.
Unlike Quetta and the northern areas, Karachi seldom receives rainfall during winter and doesn’t seem quite as penetrating. When winter ends, it is the wafting winds and swaying leaves that the inhabitants of Karachi miss the most. Adding to the weather’s beauty, winter undergoes a charming blend with spring, when dry leaves are seen scattered around the streets too.
In winters, the sun seems a temporary visitor. For most of the year it shines all day long, but in this month, it allows the clouds and the whirls to play their portion.
Embellishing the cozy evenings in Karachi are a number of eateries, or the famous dhaabas. The tea, coffee, and qahwah servers are found brimming with queues of people enjoying the smoldering beverage. Alongside them are teenagers puffing sheeshas, creating tenderness and energy.
The romance between the people of Karachi and the fried food hits its peak when in winter’s eatery outlets, located at the famous Burns Road and Food Street. Bellies go helpless when the aromas of barbequed chickens, fried fish, and soup fills the air.
As the sun falls to early to dusk, late night gatherings on verandahs are a common sight. Encircling the bonfires and peeling and roasting crunchy nuts and almonds adds enticing ingredients in these late night sittings.
Winter, with its pleasant climate, does bring a whole array of juicy and dry fruits, and vegetables with fresh textures and crunchy bites are found in profusion all over the city. One can’t rightly ignore the blessings of these fruits with which this weather bestows Karachi. Reddish, juicy pomegranates and oranges, accompanied by peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pinenuts, walnuts, and water chestnuts, bring new tastes and pleasure.
As the air in winter is short of moisture, it tends to pull all of it from the skin, creating scaly skins, dry lips, and cracked heels. At the same time, lip balms, lotions, and crack creams prove to be workable in retaining the lost moisture.
Winters in Karachi maintain moderate temperatures, despite the fall in mercury. To some, a plain woolen shawl is sufficient to maintain the warmth, while others are seen embedded in thick cardigans. Slippers may vary from boots to colorful, traditional khussas to simple flip-flops.
Winters visit this city once in a year, granting the people the chance to fulfill their fondness toward thick, warm clothes. Kashmiri shawls adorned with chunks of mirrors, Baluchi hand-woven, colorful sweaters, and the famous woolen caps from Peshawar are a regular sight.
On the contrary, the Karachi Electrical Switch Company ( KESC) adds sour to the taste. Due to high consumption of gas in the city, it at times falls short of keeping the stoves going.
In an arid zone like Karachi where its inhabitants are quite adaptable to any temperature change, adjusting in winters is no difficult chore. As happiness comes in small packages, so do winters in Karachi, and people make the most out of it.