The freezing chill was so strong that goose bumps ran across my skin. We stuffed our sacks and cold butts inside the taxi. My nose kept running and throat felt itchy as I blurted out the destination to our cab driver. My eyes kept watering as I tried to breathe in (in vain) the majestic beauty of the mountains around us.
Hopping off the taxi, we navigated our way up a steep path and discovered our hostel. The steps seemed dizzy as the cold had knocked my head out hard. I asked for the manager, and one of the staff offered me warm, steaming water from a kettle. It was a pink kettle.
The edges had worn out by use, but it lay in a corner of the common room, reflecting the bright sunlight like a shining angel. Well, you just pour water into it, flip a switch, and then it gets heated in half a minute. Everybody knows that.
Yet the simplicity of this daily use home appliance seemed like gold to me. Well it was a temperature of 2-3 degrees Celsius when every surface gets chilled in less than a minute. Common cold had blocked my nose and choked my breathing passage (didn’t feel so common anymore). I had to stare up at the ceiling for an hour every night before sleep touched my eyes.
So I came back every morning. I confronted the kettle which looked back at me from its faithful position. I held the pink ergonomic handle firmly and poured water into its mirror-like interior. The small oval light turned a glowing red as I flipped the switch. Curls of steam floated up from the mesh filter. I cupped my freezing hands around the steel body and let the heat radiate to my palms.
Seems like a romantic encounter, right?
The way the kettle kept my body warm and cosy and almost cured my cold does validate that theory (though it was a casual date, so didn’t last long).
So while enjoying a hot sumptuous breakfast on the café terrace and enjoying a 180 degree view of the snow-capped Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges, the kettle never failed to warm my sore throat with one glass of steaming hot water.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India. November 2021.
This romantic encounter occurred at Young Monk Hostel, Old Manali. I’ll never forget the hospitality and warmth I received from everyone there.