Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Delhi cold

With Asawari at Princeton, the cold there was a constant concern until she arrived two days ago to say, “It is reeaally coold in Delhi!” 

She has since, barely moved from her spot next to the radiator while back in New Jersey where she was comfortable enough, the temperature is touching sub-zero on the low.

The Delhi cold slices. It peels, stings and reflects off the bones with a metallic zing. There is something paralyzing about the dark, foggy mornings. Every Delhite knows what it is to peek out the tightly drawn curtains and dive back into the bed, “Five more minutes!”  The daily bath is an exercise in self-discipline; one’s will lasting only so long as the hot water does. It is that time of the year when home leavers take more time getting ready. There is the body lotion ritual, the additional articles to be donned on person, the vehicle takes a while kicking in from the night’s freeze. And come destination, the icy air is waiting again to gash at you as you emerge and scurry into safe space.

It is the great snuggle up month. A time for the piping hot happiness; searing soups, boiling tea and stewing food. The crackling corn beckons, the steaming momos invite, and the mink blanket spurs all attempts to fling it off. All this layering and oral intake is rivalled only by the omnipresent thermoregulation as people work to stamp, rub and blow the cold out. Around now, bonfires in all shapes and sizes spring up to dot the urban, suburban nooks. And there is on the Capital roads, a population in a tearing hurry to get indoors.

Along with the dense fog and breaking news of dipping mercury, this season also brings a paradox. The more you stay home, the colder you feel. The harder you follow the weather forecast, the more restricted you get. The keener you are about winter bashing everyday talk, the more unbearable will the air seem. Auto-suggestion is what fuels this season buzz.  It is also what makes the winter afternoon such a magical chunk of warm, drowsy moments, stolen from the swiftly dipping sun. 

Oh for that third degree of icy sheets when you first slip into the comforter! Oh for the heart-warming feel of the hot water bottle in bed! Oh for the masala, ginger tea five times a day!  Oh for the chikki and the revadi and the peanuts! Oh for the sparks rising over the fires! Oh for Delhi and all the life, throbbing in the still dark night. Oh for all things toasty on a dead, frigid day! 

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