The weather in Srinagar is always something one can talk about. And while, you are at it, admire it. In Kashmir, the four seasons are distinct - something, which takes a while to understand when you experience the weather in other places.
Outside, the wind is rustling the leaves. The leaves are present everywhere in Srinagar. In Autumn, you cannot escape them. They have basked in the heat of summer and have now turned a golden yellow. Some of them, a lot of them actually, are pale and lifeless. Many are blighted and grey. Some catch the wind easily and float wherever it takes them. Some scatter about. Others remain tangled in the thickets. Some wander away, and will be back in spring. Some will bring in new life, others will never be seen again.
In the long line of trees, Chinars all of them, on the Residency Road the leaves have paved the paths golden. A sweeper sweeps them everyday. The leaves are then burned. Turned into coal and ash. In a distant ground, the woman who is making coals from leaves holds a large broom, a small poker and a harrow. She turns the leaves she's found to char them equally. Then pours water so that they don't turn to ash. The leaves lie midway, not unburnt but not fully ash. Then she takes a poker and collects a small amount of burning coals for her own kangri. She tucks the kangri under her pheran, adjusts her head scarf and smiles coyly at no one in particular. She calls out to a little girl, her daughter perhaps, and hands the kangri to her, while she goes about preparing coals.
In the floating sunshine of the afternoon the sunlight dances a little among the clouds. The warmth spreading like the fiery glow on the coals in the woman's kangri. By dusk, the sun would have gone far away. The leaves would whirlwind and settle down. A few street vendors would unpack their wares and display them on the roads outside hotels. The knotted traffic would ease, slowly, as the roads become empty.
A few tourists are out for a stroll. A rag-picker roams about. The stray dogs. Army-men.
An old man, wearing a pheran and a woollen cap cycles across the road. His eyes are watery, and blinking in the cold. He is thinking of the kangri at home and the tea. Especially the tea.
A cup of tea would be wonderful.
(Photo Credit: dawardedmari)