Keep the cultural vibe all year through

Gosh! This seems like summer. It’s freezing back in London,” sulked Lady Felicity, Lady Flora’s cousin, as she sought refuge in the pleasant confines of the Cathedral as soon as the setting sun cast an orange hue over the late evening sky. She was in town to spend the Christmas holidays with her cousin. “Goodness! This is hardly salubrious weather. My pashmina is of no use,” she sighed, as she wiped off beads of perspiration from her forehead. Lady Flora and Sir PM looked a shade embarrassed listening to her utterances; all true, and hence, pointless to dispute.

She cooled off after sipping on a lemonade that Sir PM had arranged for, from the nearby juicewallah. It helped; she seemed in better spirits, “I love this city; it seems like it’s abuzz all the time, Flo? The festivals, the melas, the events…I am finding it tough to cover so much ground. Is this the mood all year or does it spring up only in these months?” she asked. Both friends exchanged glances. She had hit the nail on its head.

“Felsy, this is something that Pheroze and I continue to deliberate about, year after year. It is intriguing that you too, as a first-timer to the city, have noticed this considering you’ve hardly been here for a couple of weeks. We cannot fathom why the city continues to be packed with events only for these few months. And you’re right when you say that it’s hardly winter,” Lady Flora smiled, “I too had to pack off my cashmere sweaters in the attic. Blame it on climate change,” she added.

Lady Flora noticed that Sir PM was missing for the last part of their chat. She turned around to check, only to spot him returning propping a massive calendar-like chart in both his hands. “Look at this data that I’ve saved from the last year — the itinerary builds up by late October-early November and is choc-a-bloc till February of the following year, before it winds down rather abruptly by the end of that month. There is a spurt in April-May due to the summer vacations but this is followed by an awfully long lull before things revive in the last quarter,” Sir PM summarised. Both cousins, especially Lady Felicity, seemed impressed with this detailed, brief presentation. Lady Flora was proud of her friend’s data collection skills, and was secretly amazed at how he kept a close watch on the city’s cultural calendar. “Pheroze, the research is insightful; clearly, this is a skewed calendar. It’s disappointing for a city that is blessed with a rich repository of resources, from ideas to visionaries and supporters—though I feel the last point needs better representation. I’ll save that for another day. We continue to be baffled why the monsoon months are ignored,” Lady Flora opined. Lady Felicity, who was listening with great intent, felt she ought to step in. “London has very clear seasons—and Flo, you know very well how the wet weather —usually around autumn—and the winter, both can be very harsh and uninviting. Somehow, organisers manage to draw in the numbers. I see no reason why it cannot be followed her…” she trailed off. Sir PM and Lady Flora egged her on.

“It’s simple. Move everything indoors during the months of bad weather—during your mercurial monsoons and unforgiving summers. I see Londoners pretty adept at managing the biting winters and the drippy autumnal phases. They, I am realising, are just like you, Bombaywallahs; they have high expectations but are the no-nonsense kinds, who’ve adapted well to their extreme, usually fickle weather. They will show up, as long as the event is worth the effort. I recall a heritage walk festival that paid tribute to the city’s great writers; it took us through their homes, study areas, favourite restaurants and libraries… It was themed on Arthur Conan Doyle. We managed well, because most of the route covered indoor spaces,” she revealed. “On another occasion, a series of culinary events including cooking dos, sessions about England’s food culture and histories, were held under a giant temporary canopy with excellent heating in charming Covent Garden. We never felt the cold, wet weather outside, and everyone was kept warm with muffins and hot chocolate.”

Both friends did a slow clap. “This is great information; it’s clearly do-able. I am going to share these suggestions with my friends from the cultural circuit. It may not be a directly conceivable solution, but what’s the harm, really?” Lady Flora said, confidently. She looked positive. Sir PM too chimed in, “I will discuss these gems with my friends in the corporation, to consider taking the indoor route in the unpleasant months. Thank you, my lady. We are grateful for your input.”
Buoyed by this new challenge and goal for their beloved Bombay in the new year, the trio guided their guest towards the Art Deco ensemble facing Marine Drive as the stunning Queen’s Necklace played silent observer. 

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones…wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana

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