As a kid, I spent my school vacations in Delhi, mostly. Delhi is infamous for its hot, humid subtropical summers, made worse by the loo – very hot and dry continental winds blowing over from vast land stretches, due to the city’s proximity to the Thar desert. So it was the colder months, the winters of Delhi that I absolutely loved, then, and do so even now.

The summer vacations were mostly planned for group family travel to some exotic destination. Mostly in India, from as varied as Darjeeling to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Jim Corbett National Park to Kodaikanal. And occasionally to the blue waters of the Caribbean, the kaleidoscopic Bhutan, the cultural hotchpotch of Istanbul or the highlands of Scotland. These famiily trips were as much fun and memorable, as hectic and confusing at the same time.

So, I would often look forward to visit our grandparents and their huge bungalow in Delhi, almost every winter. Mostly because it was less chaotic, and we had the freedom to whatever we wanted. It was somewhat of a family ritual, our extended family gathering in Delhi, to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

The women would either go shopping almost every other day or plan for the elaborate lunches or dinners. While the men would play cards, visit friends or go for a day out to the outskirts in a farmhouse. For us kids, we would look forward to meet all our cousins. We would talk about and often make up stories about school, visit Appu Ghar or the parks and gardens of the capital, go on picnics to the zoo, and finally enact a play during Christmas.

My favorite part however was spending time in the large yet cosy living room. The living room would almost always be crowded, as everyone would gather there from morning till dusk before going out somewhere or retiring for the day. And my favorite area was the carpet area, which was adorned with his sprawling hand-knotted Kashmiri carpet. I loved the feel of the wool on my skin. As a result, everyone would often see me lying in the comfort of the carpet or sitting on it with my back resting on the arm of the warm sofas.

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THE LOVE AFFAIR

I was six, when my love story with carpets and rugs started. And it remains as much a part of my cherished childhood memories, as Delhi. Delhi is not just a city, it’s a book of stories. Stories which everyone can read, but some stories which are just yours. This story is mine, my Delhi story, and you are allowed to peek.

TO BE CONTINUED…