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.