Having moved from my state of “I hate winters” to my new, elevated state of “I love winters” recently, I am thoroughly enjoying the season this year. I have serious doubts about how correct it is to call the Mumbai winters, winter at all but for what its worth, I am loving the season. When I moved from Delhi I would laugh in the face of people who would comment on how cold it had become.
We followed a morning ritual at the Institute. Entering the campus ten or fifteen minutes before time, we would head straight for the coffee kiosk. Coffee in hand, we would hang around on any one of our many favourite spots, discussing all and sundry and waiting for our companions- the lazy hostlers (hosteler/hostelite call it what you like. I don’t think a proper dictionary-accepted term exits) to join us. These morning sessions, though brief were an important part of the day. They were the best time of the day to catch up with friends from different courses and specialisations. The stress of the day hadn’t caught up with us in the morning so everyone was really chilled out and generally chirpy and happy. (I laugh at the though of “stress” now. What we went through was stressful but nothing like the kind professional life throws at you!). It was also a perfect time to compare notes how far behind assignment deadlines we were lagging. Absolutely the best way to get each other all worked up and worried about studies, which in fact, went a long way in actually getting the work done!
Come November and the weather would get included in the discussions. Monsoons saw us sharing storied about how we almost drowned in the heavy downpour while on our way to field work or how terrible the working conditions in the slums had become. I was a regular contributor to these stories. But once winter set in people would begin discussing stories about how cold it was in the bus on the way to the institute or how difficult it had become to wake up on time in the morning. I dint know how to react to these stories. Having moved from Delhi recently, I couldn’t for the life of me understand how people could call the mild nip in the air winter here! This was no winter! Winter was what we faced in Delhi. When the mornings were covered in thick fog bringing down the visibility, you doubled your original weight thanks to all the woollens you have layered up, you used a blanket at least 2inches thick to get through the chilly nights, a room heater/blower was used in full force even at 4pm, your nose turned red and your fingers became numb making writing nearly impossible. That was winter. This was nothing. And I loved nothing. I loved the fact that Mumbai was for most part of the year, hot and humid. The winters were so mild that I enjoyed them.
I couldn’t tolerate winters in Delhi. Actually, I downright hated them. Waking up in the morning was a sheer test of will power. Reaching school/college in the bus would freeze off my fingers and toes. The brain would function sluggishly. Food laid on the table would get cold in a matter of seconds. The hottest part of the day-the afternoon would turn into the best part of the day, quite contrary to summers when we would run for cover from the relentless sun. You had to be pretty tough to survive the season. I dint like it one bit. I preferred summers. You’d be melting in the dry heat of the city and suffering unscheduled load shedding day after day, but other than that everything else would be fine and dandy. Most people I knew in school/college would look at me strangely when I told them I loved summers. Except for one faithfully roomie (thanks Bakshi!!:) )who stuck with me in our mutual hatred for winters, all others I have encountered love the frigid season. They think it’s “fun” and “romantic”. I think its debilitating.
I am sure the people in office are also members of the “I love winter” group, just like all the other people I have known. They seem to like the figure 18. That’s the only way I can explain their love for setting the air conditioning at 18, irrespective of the time of the year. I think this is their way of artificially creating winter. “We don’t ever witness a real winter so let’s create one!” The temperature outside is 21 deg. C but inside it doesn’t go a decimal point above 18deg C. Ridiculous, I tell you. It’s like perpetual winter in here. The Delhi kind. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.