A Festival And A Snowfall

Priya Pramod

Walking through my memory there are many streets I saw , but the most colorful and vibrant street I can recollect is the Mullackal Temple Street in Alleppey, Kerala[India] during the time of the Temple festival that happens annually in December

Amid the low height buildings of the street stood The majestic temple with the traditional music coming from large speakers continuously, the smell of fresh flowers in the air , the sight of multi-colored glittery papers dangling from threads tied across poles erected on the sides of the street and temporary shops lined up on both sides selling pink colored cotton candies, yellow colored Kerala Banana chips , cartoon shaped balloons that fly up into the sky if you don't hold tight to its thread , toys, bangles , flowers. Hot pop corns would be getting freshly popped in the machines and sugarcane juice squeezed out fresh on demand.
By evening, the street will be beautifully lit with decorative bulbs of different colors , getting On and Off rhythmically to illuminate various patterns . All the sounds there merge into a large buzz, but if you concentrate , you can hear , the flower vendors shouting names of fresh flowers, the glass bangles in the shops which women crowd to buy ,people talking as they walk past . Like a flowing river, hundreds of people walk in a single direction on either side of the road. If you carefully watch the crowd you can see children with their ever fascinated eyes looking at all the glitters and lights sitting on their parent's shoulder, Saree clad ladies with jasmine flowers in their hair- on their way to the temple to offer prayers , friend-groups chit chatting and laughing and uniform clad police officials on guard. The positive energy in the air with all these visuals, smells and sounds is infectious. I walked in this street - spellbound.

Another street in my memory which is in stark contrast with the above mentioned ; yet equally fascinating , is in Manhattan, New York City , where I and my family happened to be on the very next morning after we landed in USA for the first time. Miscalculating the traffic, we could not board the bus we intended, left us standing at a crossroad looking for a cab. Our next bus was few hours later.
It was a winter morning and snowing. We were jet-lagged and not familiar with New York city then. Not accustomed with the snowy weather my 6-year-old son was slightly trembling inside his heavy jacket. Holding him tight, sitting on one of my heavy suitcases, as my husband was trying to get a cab - I watched. Large skyscrapers stood in line on both sides of the road in discipline. You must stretch your neck up to have a full look at the tall buildings. Snow fell slowly like someone was gently blowing small balls of soft cotton all around. The sidewalks were neat with many people walking and the road was brimming with vehicles. Most people in their formals walked in a fast pace either looking at their phones or talking through their Bluetooth headsets. Only few elderly people with their walkers were slow. Nobody was bothered by the chill of the weather. Thus, I witnessed my first snowfall in the middle of a busy Manhattan street slightly lost in the feeling of unfamiliarity around me. Gradually the snowfall became heavy and I contemplated the consequences of not getting a cab before the chill becomes unbearable. Just in time, a yellow colored cab stopped near my husband and he hurriedly asked our son to get into the cab followed by us. Getting the warmth of the heated cabin of the car was soothing and then the driver asked - "Kahan jaana hai sir??”. Suddenly I felt I am in India! I smiled.

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