It is February.
Yet another Kolkata February.
Contrary to popular belief, February in Kolkata typically means spring. No, this spring doesn't erupt in colourful blossoms. It doesn't do anything with the cherry trees either. Your skin starts to get that soapy feeling when you climb up those steep metro stairwells, and though the prickly heat commercials with rugged looking brambles superimposed on children's bare backs don't air on television yet, you start to anticipate the summer already.
The air is full of that smell of goodness-knows-what flowers (my knowledge of botany is absolutely appalling) - but you know the smell I'm talking about, right? It's not sultry yet, but still, still you can sense the advent of summer, and the last remnants of winter trying to ward it off. And you still wake up with a mild headache and sore throat if you had kept the fan at full speed all night.
The blankets and woollens have disappeared: but the sheets (that usually get recycled as wedding gifts unless used) are still out, and out in great numbers. And the Sun, though not quite enjoyable at two in the afternoon, is at its most pleasant in the early mornings.
It's season-change time, if you know what I mean. And even though there are a few coughs and sneezes, sensing the Kolkata January melt into February in unassuming delight is an experience that can only be earned over years. And I've got over three decades of them.
Of all the Februarys in the world, my city has the best one. Nothing, absolutely nothing can match the journey home from the market at eight, nylon bagful of vegetables and fish in hand, on a Kolkata February morning trying to figure out who the murderer is in that Agatha Christie you had left unfinished last night as your experienced feet trace their way home out of sheer experience.
And then, did I mention the Book Fair?