Describe an early morning walk through your city or town in winter.

Give details of the smells, sights, sounds and feelings you experienced.

‘Clank, clank‘ the sound of hoofs on the metalled road, followed by someone bellowing “Aside, please’’ jolted me to my senses. I moved towards the pavement in the narrow street that wound its way steeply descending towards Mallital on the other side of Nainital lake.

A thick fog hung around the valley below, which seemed to deny daybreak. The golden haze of the sun drifting through the fog spreading its golden light on the lush green mountain slopes below memorized me. I was so enthralled was by the scenic beauty that I ventured out for an early morning walk, despite being a habitual late riser.

The otherwise crowded street in the market below seemed to be gradually coming out of slumber. Porters with heavy baggage were shuffling on the street. People could be seen covered with woollen clothes. The spicy aroma of samosas and jalebis wafted through the air, from a nearby roadside dabha. The owner seemed to be doing brisk business, serving tea and snacks to the tourists crowded around makeshift tables and chairs. The enthusiastic yelling of ‘chai, chai’, by the attendant, seemed an aberration to the otherwise serene soundings. The newspaper hawkers with newspapers stacked on their bicycles raced on the street. Small shops selling milk and bread were also doing brisk business.

Now before me was the famous Nainital lake. I sat on a bench facing the lake, which seemed to be extremely quiet and peaceful. The eerie silence is broken by the splashing of waves, striking the shore. The mountains could be seen covered with snow. The tranquillity of the sound of waves was short-lived by the shrill chirping of a flock of birds, which descended around the lake, in search of prey. A gentle breeze brought with it the pungent smell of weeds stagnating on the lakeside.

I decided to return home. By now, the sun had successfully pierced through the dense clouds clearing the mist and fog. The streets had suddenly come to life. The honking of horns, whistling of porters and the trotting of mules on the streets, had indeed heralded the arrival of a new day, bringing with it new hopes.

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