The roads seem to be made for walking with closed shop fronts and few people. A festive air clings to the air I breathe - and it is not in my mind alone. As I walk briskly down my body heat is touched by the cool evening breeze and I walk on faster to enjoy the sensation. And smile at the occasional passer-by.
A medley of fresh smells assail me here and there - carried lightly by the breeze. Here a clean deep smell of roasting hot chana comes and goes before I finish my breath. There a hot blast from the dosa shop and I pass it before I can feel it. The smell of jasmine for once does not seem oppressive as it lightly caresses past carried away by the pure cool sea breeze. Leaving my imagination to wonder if it was there. But the flower seller confirms my nasal decision. A blast from the air conditioned interior of an open shop door feels unwelcome, infringing on the natural sweet smells the city never really serves up.
An old lady passes by smelling faintly of fresh soap and talcum powder, taking me subtly back to my grandmother when I was but a child, knee high, delighting in the coolness left behind by the fiery Nor'westers on a Calcutta evening. A faint yet detectable smell of fried bhajiyas and murmura accentuate the feeling till I almost think I am walking on the streets of Calcutta during March, after a hot afternoon and a tempestuous Nor'wester has cleared the streets and the air.
The man shouting in Marathi brings me back to the road I actually am on. He is packing up before its dark, from the footpath stall of 'ladies handbags' and I remember it is a Monday - a day off for workers here. I am surprised then at the other shops open and realise the festive spirit is from the new year tomorrow. I notice the scanty crowds and discern the parents buying something for their baby daughter, the grandmother buying her grandchild an ice cream and the lovers walking dreamily hand in hand as they pretend to look at clothes on the pavement shops in the dim lights.
Then I turn a corner and the breeze is gone. I look up and the sky is dark. It is still unusually cool for summer but the spell is broken. I could still walk on but the enticement is gone. My limbs are not tired yet I am no longer lured by a cool ocean wind or serenaded by the nostalgic smells from summer holidays. I find my shop and walk inside. I leave the episode alone, untouched in my mind.