Winter’s Sonata

It was indeed a proud day for all us when the NCR recorded a minimum of 0.1 °Celsius.  With our chests puffed up in pride, we shivered even more vigorously.  We were even happier to note that the hills were warmer than the plains, courtesy an unusually dry spell.  Someone even dedicated a Rajni joke in honour of this unusually cold spell – Dear Rajnikanth please switch off your A/C.  Regards North Indians.

Rajni Anna, please don’t switch it off until April!  I am delighted that the refrigerator is warmer than my room and my fingers feel like kulfi sticks.  That I have not stood straight for weeks does not bother me at all.  Actually I quite fancy myself as the crouching tiger and am ready to growl at anyone who thinks otherwise.   I happily bound in and out of my building with the tip of nose matching the colour of my boots – a startling red.  And if you hear a hissing sound in the background, please don’t start screaming for help – it’s just me trying to keep warm. 

Long ago I had made up my mind that winter is going to be my favourite season and nothing can deter me from my resolution - not even my teeth which have become exhausted from all the chattering. 

I am given to understand that as a bonafide Bengali, I am expected to dive under a pile of blankets at the mere mention of cold.  A Bengali’s paranoia to anything below 20°C is well chronicled.  Come November and you will spot most of us covered in moth balled shawls ready to face a blizzard.   Strangely our race’s legendary aversion to cold doesn’t deter our adventurous spirit.   Think of a hill station and the first thing your mind will conjure is a Bong Meshomoshai in his monkey cap, with only his pinched face exposed to Maa Nature.  From Kasauli to Kausani, from Shimla to Shilliguri, from Dalhousie to Darjeeling you will you will find our brethren rubbing their hands vigorously and muttering “Kee sheet” (it’s so cold) under their breath!  

As a Delhi-born Bengali I find such behaviour disdainful and will drop dead with shame if I spot a relative taking refuge in a monkey cap.  

A typical Delhite will perish rather than cover up.  Caps, mufflers, mittens are meant for children and the chicken-hearted!  In apni Dilli, we love to weather the weather first-hand.  Come rain, come shine we consider carrying an umbrella uncouth.  In summer, when I am stupid enough to open my umbrella to protect myself from the singeing heat, passersby turn around and smirk at me!  

Since winter is the time when the Capital parties with a vengeance, we have a busy season air kissing the fog and whoever is behind it.  For some strange reason, most of these parties are either by the poolside or hosted in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  So even if the weather is begging you to take that coat you spent a fortune on, out from the closet, you’d rather shiver in your bare minimum for maximum effect.  And God forbid if you wear anything remotely woollen, you risk standing out like Mayawati on a Paris runway. 

A typical Delhi man exhibits his recklessness by using the cretin who dared brush past his brand new E Class Mercedes, for target practice.  And his woman will flaunt her bravado by flaunting her oh- so- sexy neckline and bronzed arms even when the mercury is plummeting.  

In my case I have reached a happy compromise.  Even though I’ll be the happiest walking in a social do sporting a wrap around blanket, I still prefer making a chattering entry.  To keep hypothermia at bay, I casually sling a shawl across my shoulder and snuggle into it surreptitiously, when I think no one’s looking.  

Of course there exist extremes - a certain kind of especially cool Delhite who takes layering-up to new widths.  With thermal body suits, high necks, cardigans and coats piled on one single life form, they dress up on behalf of the entire nation.  From afar they look like a heap of woollies that has just come to life.   Strangely, even when the sun is blazing in the afternoon, they look smug with sweat trickling gently down their forehead. 

I still have two months to enjoy the chill and tch tch when I read about fog playing havoc with flight schedules.  I have enough horror stories of my own to relate – of flights that didn’t take off, missed connections and reaching the hotel with our tongues hanging out, only to be told that our booking accidentally got cancelled.  Two years back we made a resolution never to take a flight out of Delhi in winters and we have stuck to it.  We now express excitement about our friends’ vacation plans and happily click like for the FB pictures they share.  And I don’t mind that at all.  It’s in winter Delhi and its denizens come to life.  Breaking into bhangra to some crazy Hindi song, getting high on labels black, red and blue, scooping up piping hot saag with makki ki roti, biting into that extra crisp gajjak, having endless cups of adrak chai... 

Two more months till we start cursing the unbearable heat. ...Two more months till we discover all the accumulated fat around our waist and bawl our hearts out.
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  2. Okaay...imagining you wearing a monkey cap....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA......
    *wipes tears* Anyway, back to the article. Yup, we Delhi-ites would rather freeze than wear too much. Yesterday, I did witness one such fight as you mentioned. But instead of a Merc the car rammed into was a humble Esteem. But yeah, I guess it keeps you warm and the blood pumping (Like Bear Grylles moves around a lot when stuck somewhere in the Artic)
    .......Now again imagining you wearing a monkey cap, this time wrapped in a brown shawl......HAHAHAHAHHAHA...

  3. Lovely...two more months of this beautiful weather till we enjoy the chill or we pretend so :-)

    Loved that Mayavati on a Paris runway line :-)
    Aah.. kee sheet !!!

  4. Delhi winters and Delhi summers, heard so much about them :)

  5. such a shame you are to the Bangali Lok :P
    I hate piling up too many wollens too - I dont really like looking like a coats rack :)

  6. Till last year i cud brave the Delhi winter chill and don a saree on a Winter wedding sans a shawl for cover. But now... it feels like a different ball game. And today, the rain has sent the mercury dipping and the chill making its way to the bones.... did someone say monkey cap :)

  7. aha! I would give anything for an adrak chai.
    Earlier I thought you were gonna talk of the homeless, but this was better (not that I don't give a damn), because I love cold so much!

  8. I am bawling my hearts out now. Was covered up in Bhopal and now its too hot down here in Kerala...
    Your humour cannot be matched!

  9. ITs about 20 degree here in Mumbai and people are already talking of taking a leave :D :D Its that cold according to Mumbai standards!! :D :D
    I love winters and I can't stop wishing it snowed :D

  10. Delhi Chill(y) .. maybe a topic for another movie. Does Amir Khan read this blog?

  11. And long back I had made up my mind to NEVER EVER WEAR A MONKEY CAP despite those "kee sheet" grumblings!!

  12. BONGO.. Purba... Bengali plumes out in winter. Beautiful !! Well scripted.

  13. moth balled shawl,, ROFL..
    I saw your photo on the Indiblogger and saw the muffler around your neck, I understood everything from that photo.
    Me, I can tolerate sub zero temperatures than my own bangalorean "pleasant" weather..

  14. but this year its not been that cold .. here it has not snowed at all so far.. and its 1st jan already ..

    but then being a north indian i dont get that cold as such.. and yes as you say will perish rather then cover up.. i remmeber the time the bet we had .. to go all the way to shimla on bikes in a Tee shirt thats it on christmas day .. and boy it was cold ..

    only one idiot managed ot do it all the way .. he he h and it was not me i was too drunk to drive keeping myself warm ..


  15. Your wit can only be matched with that of Khushwant Singh who can crack jokes on his own brethren!Lovely description of the Delhi chill...

  16. Oh, I am like you, 'carelessly' throwing a shawl over my shoulder and try to huddle in it. Better still, find a table near an angeethi at these 'chilled out' parties. And look today we have migrated to warmer climes to beat the cold. Ah, age does catch up with sooner than later....

  17. Snow...Sighs! I can always borrow your monkey cap and BROWN shawl to make you laugh some more! can now floor your Bong friends with this classic line :p

    Ana-treek...Both seasons make you feel closer to God :D

  18. Ruchira...Layering works in our weather. One can peel off at will.

    Aabha...What if Monkey Cap became a fashion statement? Now wouldn't that be fun!

    Harish...Shivering is any day better than sweat trickling down your back :)

  19. Red Handed...But then Kerala is never too hot. And the cuisine with it's fresh spices ...Aaaaah

    maithili...But when it snows, the water in the tap freezes...Lots of horror stories there.

    aativas...But someone did sing about Dilli ki Sardi :)

  20. That was a comprehensive Ode to the dipping mercury. The narrative is powerful as it draws the pride of teeth- chattering Delhites who'd rather brave it with a mere shawl to the sumptuously covered conventional Bongs gracilng the hill stations. I empathise with your hatred for simmering summers. 'Two more months'!
    It brightened my pleasantly cool my Mumbai morning.

  21. Prosenjeet...It's such an ugly thing!

    Ravi...Glad you liked.

    Bhavana...Err no...Actually I was sweating there but didn't want to take it off for the sake of my coolness quotient :p

  22. Bikramjit...Drunk and in just a tee and jeans! Whoa!!!!!

    Rahul....We are lucky enough to have four seasons in Delhi.


  23. zephyr...I can NEVER freeze for the sake of fashion :(

    umashankar...I presume Mumbai is cooler in July and August during it's famous monsoon.

  24. Ahh...two more months. Then it is back to those dust storms and unbearable heat...winters are lovely..esp when not traveling. Chai, sarson ka saag, gazar halwa..till it is time to shed the woolens and discover the bulges.

  25. Reminds me of those shivering 3 months in winter when we were in M.P.
    Here in Bangalore, winter remain hardly for a month and No shivering despite its 'Cool Place' tag!

  26. Brrrr.. So cold. I love the weather here in Bangalore btw, it's sunny and pleasant. I know, we don't have seasons, like the grumpy cub keeps complaining, but it's nice weather all the time.

    The cold should be dealt with. Lots of hot coffee, hot chocolate, pakoras. Slllllurpp.

  27. Alka....Till then enzzoyyyy!

    Ayyangar Sir....You get to shiver in Summer when it rains

    Pzes...Hot coffee spiked with Irish cream...yummy!

  28. It has always amazed to see women sporting "just" a saree to those open air wedding parties in the cold of Dilli. I always wondered if they could share their secret of how to remain warm to our soldiers in Siachin ... they might take a tip or two :)

  29. I hate covering up in winters too. Unfortunately my body doesn't agree with me and protests by falling sick.
    :( Hilarious post, as usual.

  30. Left Dilli at 8yrs of age but have sweet memories of winter afternoons spent sprawled on a khaat in the backyard having methi parathas and steaming tahiri.Sardiyon ki dhoop is missed in Mumbai.

  31. yes rajni uncle dont switch off AC
    visit for more humar

  32. Don't have to bawl your heart out in front of the mirror Purba, just hit the gym or start brisk walking. Avoid the sweet ginger chai and your waist will be ready for the next winter.
    Khub bhalo likhechhen :)

  33. think it's the brandy :p

    sumitra...Who wants to look like a tent but what to do!

    sharmila...Tahiri is so typical UP :)

  34. GAUTAM...Just did..

    Amitaverse...Don't worry - I am a gymaholic and take my yoga classes seriously :)

  35. I KNOW, even i am scared of summers :( and having lived a lot of time in bangalore which has natural AC, its weird for me
    monkey cap and sHilligouri LOL hee hee hee

  36. Purba,

    I almost took of my cap and pullover for having been a Delhiite of over quarter century vintage but realized that I am not born Delhiite like you. LOL. Wit and digs at best.

    Take care

  37. Like you Purba, I loooooooooove winters too...and the second paragraph made me imagine you looking all cute and chattering...

    I read the quotes from here on twitter first and reached the blog late-you are incomparable when you get down to your humour-subtle, witty and a dash of sarcasm...
    I wish I could write like you..:-)

    and nevermind the monkey caps and the woolly heaps...let's snug into the blanket and enjoy it...doesn't look as though it would last two months...

    and putting on weight-you???????? really!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. My God .... you are so right about Bengalis . And one Bengali to another , I love Delhi winters . Every winter , I look forward to visiting my siblings in Delhi just to escape the OCD that Bengalis have in winter here . Heheh .

    And , Happy New Year .

  39. Oh how i miss saddi Dilli! here in Pune, when the mercury hit 7, people almost started dying in their minds! :D

  40. Oh how I wish I didn't have to wear a monkey cap in winters either, but what to do... that's life in USA.

  41. Madhav..In summer, the NCR turns into a sauna.

    Jack...But we should be dressing season appropriate :)

    Suruchi...That's awfully sweet of you to say that. You have the gift of telling stories, wonder why you don't do that more often?

    And you have no idea, what all I do to keep that weight off :(

  42. Of Prisms and Lives....Winter is THE time to visit the capital :)
    Wishing you a happy 2012.

    Ketan...I'm sure countries where the min hits -22c, make similar jokes about us :D

    Dark Knight...Go on...turn our monkey cap into a style statement!

  43. Purba, you have made me so so nostalgic about my pre marriage days in Ludhiana..i miss those winters, and the winter parties :( :( i love winters and ever since my marriage I have lived in mumbai, bangalore and now Sharjah...all devoid of those chilly winds and fogs :(

    Anyways a Happy 2012 to you :)

  44. I don't know why seasons are such a national issue. We crib when it rains cats and dogs, when the sun pierces the heat through us or when its teething winters.. So chill (as you already are)..

    Like you, I had made up my mind years ago, that winters are THE best seasons.. they are so much better than the sweaty and smelly summers and the insect laden monsoons ...
    gr8 post!

  45. Thankfully, we Bangaloreans enjoy pretty good weather throughout.

    I enjoyed my 3 year stay in Agra(nah..not in the mental hospital) and enjoyed the winters the most :)

  46. Purvi...Yep the best times we have is during the winter :)

    And wishing you a happy 2012 :)

    Ruchi..Hehe...we are a nation of cribbers!

    Pooja...Agra's Cant area is pretty good and Sadar Bazar has some pretty awesome chaat.

  47. In Kolkata, we had barely said "Kee..." when the 'sheet' vamoosed. We are having a very random winter this time.
    And Mayawati on the Paris runway?! Now that's what i call a good simile (read:smiley)! :)

  48. Wonderful post. I think Keralites are just as averse to the cold, and almost as attracted to monkey caps. This post makes me miss Delhi.

  49. Supernova....Is that? Someone told me it's almost freezing :p

    Marita...Kerala has winters?

  50. that was hilarious, and being a bengali i can proudly say that monkey cap hasn't become obsolete because of us :D

  51. At first I thought I would just blend in the Delhi-ites like the penguins of Madagascar camouflage in the environment. But then came the question,these people either know no cold or they have body heaters installed in their body which are constantly boiling their blood hot.

    And how come women always manage in the minimum of clothes while men need multiple layers of fabric to beat the cold?

    To my dismay, I found it a little troublesome to be like everyone else, I am just a birdie from a different place.
    Though fog has come to my rescue. When no one can see me, I can put on as much wool as I need to keep myself from becoming a kulfi.

    Alright I am not typing sense, my hands aren't listening. They're cold. :P

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  52. factsandnonsense....Choti,toopi, pajamaa and panjaabi - Bong fashion rocks!

    Hahaha Anshul. We Delhites are strange peepool. Ignore us please :)
    But I was expecting more resistance to cold from a Himachali boy :p

  53. LOL, LOL :) :) I belong to the layered in thermals, and thick knitted sweaters and woolen caps and boots and trench coats types of Delhi walla kinds :D
    Loving the cold winds and the slight drizzle!!!

  54. Hey,a great interpretation of "Dilli Ki Sardi" and "Dilliwale In Sardi".
    I am not from Delhi but I get the Idea ;)

  55. Well, resistance comes after affliction, I am sure my White Blood Cells and platelets are working overtime like me in building antibodies to beat the heat and cold of Delhi alike. :)

    But there has to be something special about Delhi's chill, or why would there be so much 'yashgaan' about it.


  56. I wish I could experience the coldness of winter that will really makes my body cry for heat. Sadly, I can only experienced it when I get inside the freezer and It's not even a real climate but a mere artificial place that filled with ice.
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