I decided to spend my retired life in suburban Islamabad because of an ongoing love affair with Ms Winter and now that the object of my passion is here once again, I cannot restrain myself and must lift my pen in its praise. This week's column is, therefore, dedicated to the fraternity and sorority of winter lovers and also to those, who view this kingly season as dull, gloomy and uncomfortable, in the hope that they may see the light. The home of my childhood was a colonial bungalow where life was a curious blend of old North Indian traditions, anglicised customs and Punjabi rusticity. Lahore in those days was a veritable City of Gardens with turf and trees, clean air and a quiet atmosphere - in fact, so quiet that residents of the Walled City could hear the lions roaring in the zoo, miles away near the Lawrence Gardens. The approach of winter was heralded by the appearance of buds in our chrysanthemum plants and the almost frantic scurrying about of grey squirrels foraging for food. As evenings lengthened and afternoon sunlight paled, the old Pathan firewood seller would appear toiling up our drive with his load of logs and my grandmother could be heard mustering her forces to prepare satora. This unbelievably delicious concoction was made from rawa and ground pistachios, almonds, melon seeds and sugar - all cooked in desi ghee, cooled and then stored in jars. Despite our best efforts, which included several unsuccessful and surreptitious attempts at laying our hands on this halwa, we were only allowed to eat one teaspoon of this mouth-watering recipe each day. Winter breakfast was usually consumed in our auxiliary kitchen-cum-pantry run by my mother. We would sit on peeris or low four-legged stools, around a pair of coal burning stoves and enjoy Bakar Khani dipped in steaming bowls of salted Kashmiri tea. Lunch would, however, be a totally different affair, as a proper lunch table with plates, napkins and cutlery would be laid out in our verandah. These meals were unforgettable, as we were serenaded by a family of bulbuls that lived in one of the old bougainvilleas covering one side of the structure. These birds had bred there year after year and got so used to the family that they literally ate out of our hands. As days shortened, giving way to early darkness and freezing cold, the fire places in the house would be lit, throwing dancing patterns on the ceiling and walls. The whole family would gather in my grandmother's room and make themselves comfortable on the carpet before the fire. The grand old lady would sit cross-legged with a beautifully embroidered light quilt or dulai on her shoulders and a kangri in front of her. This kangri was a terracotta bowl fitted inside a wicker basket. Hot coals were put in the bowl and the whole contraption could actually be tucked inside ones quilt. Soon, a tray full of peanuts would appear and we would lose track of time amidst storytelling and light-hearted gossip. Dinner would be served on a dastar khwan in front of the fire and the evening would be brought to a close with cups of green tea. At least one Sunday in the winter season was reserved for a special treat - Nihari - from the establishment run by Sami Dehelvi in an Anarkali locality known as Paisa Akhbar. This was an occasion when we would be joined by relatives and friends and any late arrival was apt to see the amusing sight of our side lawn littered with people lying on durrees snoring away the effects of the rich and spicy curry. Doodhi was a sweet drink that my mother used to prepare for the family on very cold nights by boiling ground melon seeds and some other ingredients known as four maghaz in milk. We were told that this hot beverage would improve our 'brain power' and make us strong. I do not know if it did exactly that, but it certainly kept us warm and made us sleep very soundly through the long winter nights. Bathing in winters of yore was a problem, as there were no geysers. Our childhood was spent in bathing with hot water obtained from a hammam or water boiler. This was a large potbellied copper water container with a tap near the base, two fancy looking carrying handles down the sides and a copper tube running down its centre. This inner tube was filled with burning coals to heat the water in the hammam. I remember our bathroom to be as large as a good sized room with three of these boilers installed inside it. I now live in an area where we have rather extended winters. We have central heating and hot running water, but I still miss those old winter evenings with their peanuts and log fires and the soft gentle voice of an old lady telling us how her wedding procession travelled on bullock-drawn carriages escorted by two scores of mounted sword bearers to ward off raiding thugs. The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.