The sweet acrid nostalgic smell of Delhi winter

Walking the streets of Delhi just as dusk has set in. The slight smell from the fog mixed with the smell of traffic fumes on Janpath. Memories. Of my mother, always in her colorful saris, red shawl, her carefully bobbed hair just down to her neck. And laughing, always laughing as if she feared if she did not, somehow the demons of unfulfilled child hood dreams would get to her. As they ultimately did.
But God, I loved that laughter – and the streets and smells of Delhi were filled with her laughter this evening. And my father, quite and often brooding, a compassionate smile on his face as he watched his life partner laugh, hiding his pleasure at it, but feeling it’s warmth just as me and my sisters did.
And when my mother passed away he missed it so much that he gradually too let go. The laughter that filled our lives had gone – but we the kids were off on our own adventures – our own dreams, heartbreaks, ambitions – the family house empty of laughter and hope – still lies there languishing – waiting for someone to fill it with the bubbling excitement – so it’s walls can lose the forlorn dampness that is spreading everywhere.
And this evening as I walk through Janpath to my hotel – the restored and magnificent Imperial Hotel – the sweet acrid nostalgic smell of Delhi winter – brought tears to my eyes – as passerby’s saw me and stopped “wasn’t that Shekhar Kapur who also cried on TV” ?

15 Responses to “The sweet acrid nostalgic smell of Delhi winter”

  1. Horst Vollmann says:

    Dear Shekhar:
    How well I can relate to your sadness. Losing parents means losing part of your childhood, their protective arms still needed to be wrapped around us, even in our adult lives. No love is more pure, unconditional and absolute than the love of a father or a mother. I can still hear the sound of my fathers voice that hardly ever knew the cadences of anger, its gentle inflections, full of deep love for his family.
    This was a man who had apologized to me for not having been able to earn enough money to pay for my higher education since the wages as a bricklayer in those post World War II days in Germany were meagre, barely enough to feed a family of four. Little did he know that the education I had received through him much transcended any formal teachings in the most elite schools. His example was my beacon in life, it shaped my character and gave me a strength that no formal education could impart.
    This infinitely good man still brings tears to my eyes and makes my voice falter when I think of the day, more than 18 years ago, standing in front of his casket breaking down while wailing with the primeval pain of loss, shocked over the intensity of my emotions. This is when it had hit home that I would never hear his laughter again, his voice that could sing so beautifully and his gentle utterances how much he loved me.
    I can so well understand your tears.
    With kind regards.
    Horst

  2. AJ says:

    Parents
    Most beautiful gift
    Remember the moment
    when you see and later hear
    The 1st heartbeat
    of
    The baby
    which will change your life, destiny
    and joyously all the efforts
    parent go through
    for a new life to be part of the family
    Yes
    Parents
    Most precious gift

  3. Deepak Rajgor says:

    Your post is very nostalgic and emotional. Nostalgic because Dilli is such a place where still traditional life meets modernity and advancements with people of various kind. Emotional because out of everything in this world, a mother’s love is one amongst strongest and unforgettable.
    Reading your latest post reminds me of my teacher who said to me in college “Sometimes in life, the saddest part of your life is when you remember your happiest moments”

  4. Geetika says:

    :o)
    Yes I remember you crying at the shows
    and spilling your heart out. I also
    remember you mentioning it once that the
    tears and the creativity come from the
    feminine side of yours.
    How much I was touched then and how much
    I am touched now!!!
    Thanks Shekhar for writing so soulfully
    that it triggered a few tears in my eyes
    and probably they were so badly
    needed for the onset of the catharsis.
    I have become so practical in life that
    I have lost the touch of the Feelings.
    Again thanks to you for showing me the strength to express it all in the form of “I” and not “WE”.
    I am more frank to myself now, at least for some time :o)
    Love…. Geetika

  5. Deepika Khurana says:

    Dear Mr. Kapur,
    I am writing on behalf of The London Speaker Bureau in India with regard to speaking invitation for you at a youth engagement summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Could you please share with me an email address to which I could send an official invitation? Alternatively, if you could put me in touch with your office, I would be happy to forward it to them. I am extremely sorry about posting this on your blog; however I had no other way to reach you.
    Thank you very much – I look forward to hearing from you.
    Warm regards,
    Deepika Khurana

  6. ks says:

    “In the midst of winter,sometimes…. Memories,do makes us realise, that their is an invincible summer within us.” EK THA BACCHPAN………

  7. Hitika says:

    By God’s grace, I have my parents with me.
    They’ve always been there. Always.
    At times they shock me with their selfless ways.
    Their unconditional unwavering love goes unnoticed. Well, mostly.
    When I look at a person as a lover,
    I’m totally smitten.
    A huge pile of expectations.
    I fight when they aren’t met.
    When I look at someone as a friend,
    I’m always available for them.
    Their joys, their griefs.
    Life looks up.
    When I look at my folks at home,
    I just look at them
    To wish a damp ‘good morning.’
    Crib about the breakfast.
    Yell, insult, go to work.
    my mom waiting, I come home
    to leave again.
    i come back
    my dad’s off to sleep.
    my mom
    still waiting
    to have our group dinner.
    She looks at me
    in anticipation of words
    flowing out of my busy mouth,
    and busy eyes
    looking at the TV,
    or the phone
    waiting to ring.
    She goes off to sleep
    Amidst all the silence
    around her
    inside her.
    And then,
    Another ‘good morning.’
    My soul has been asking me,
    like it asked today,
    Why?
    Why the irony?
    of causing pain and agony
    to the two people,
    who’s reason of living
    is me.
    And now
    I know the answer.
    And I will ensure,
    that they don’t just exist.
    They live..
    Love u ma n pa..

  8. austere says:

    I envy your ability to cry.
    Every day I spend with my 87 year old parent, I’m on tenterhooks, wanting to stop time.

  9. nimi khanna says:

    I lay a rose here..IN HER MEMORY.
    She was beautiful, elegant and with a right touch of class..she was extremely house proud and kept a very nice home.Come five o’clock..tea was served in her split level living room. A starched crotched table cloth,a hand knitted tea cosy and a parrot tea holder,I recall clearly as I had very often gone and celebrated this tea hour with her…She was multi talented.During her last years she had taken to painting-crayons and water colours.Her art reflected child like innocence. She used the most spring like colours..Then one day I visited her and she showed me a very dark abstract painting which had a lot of depth and dimension in it, very different from her usual thought pattern.’What is this I asked?”…”My Death” she said and laughed and laughed..
    She passed away shortly after.

  10. naved says:

    delhi is another name for nostalgia.from being the trade capital to a cultural platform to being a city of political Jinns, Delhi is soaked in hues of lost definitions. I thought i’d be brave and wade my way through time ,so, here i am on a boat rechristened only to scrape the paint off it’s belly,the city of Mumbai.If the affinity in the hearts was more for people (as it reflects in your memory about your mother)the places automatically would have retained their ageless charm and would breathe the stories of times gone by,instead of compromising their dignity with every generation.

  11. Mee says:

    I feel what you say – I think it happens invariably when parents pass away. I know I miss their presence so bad in my life. Even now I often think Dad is going to make a remark on how well well I am doing in life, or his twinkling eyes smiling at me silently his approval of what I have set my heart on, or mum showing off with pleasure her new shopping secretly waiting for my approval of her choice, or she saying to me – lets drive to so and so’s place and spend the sunday with them- looking for my reaction which could spark off a heated debate about why and where is the need etc…!! We gotta keep moving on…
    In a lighter vein – Fog, smoke and dust in the air. It’s winter in Delhi. I get all misty eyed.

  12. cartucho r4i says:

    I love your blog like anything. I love each n every blog, i fell like reading it again and again, its very touching.You express everything in a manner which are linked with emotions.

  13. mukand says:

    crying is nothing special for bolly stars ; bolly stars have merchandised the emotions on celluloid

  14. I’m sure you will like to go through this link!
    Do revert back with your comments 🙂
    http://rachanashakyawar.blogspot.com/2009/09/delhi-walla-life-discovery-of-india.html

  15. Richa Arya says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    This is Richa, I admire your movies. I have a concern about the TV serial you did, Udaan, telecasted by Doordarshan and directed by Kavita Chaudhari. Me and my family is big fan of that serial and I wish could see it again. I would be grateful if you please let me know how could I purchase the CDs/DVDs ( if available).
    I will appreciate if you reply.
    Best regards
    RICHA ARYA, Ph.D
    MGH/
    Harvard Medical School
    Charlestown, MA 02129

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