06 February 2007

Retrospective Series: Part 10: Cold winters and early mornings

We've had a relatively mild winter this year. But things have suddenly changed for the worse in February. Tonight as I tap out these words, the mercury is hovering in the single digits outside. Its pretty warm and cozy inside, thanks to the central air conditioning. Yeah when I talk about single digits, I mean temperature measured in degrees Fahrenheit, so that would be about -20 degrees Celsius. Brrr.... ain't that cold ? Its snowing lightly too and the cold air is gonna make it stick and skid prone in the morning. Winter in North America, well at least the parts that really do have a winter, unlike the lucky folks living down in Hawaii or Florida for that matter, is not really a time to find the best of cheer. The streets empty out at sunset, which at this time of the year occurs between 4 and 5 pm. All our tropical plants have now been lugged indoors and are being kept alive by the heat of the central air. The lack of humidity does take a toll on the poor beings, especially the Jasmine and the curry plant, but we do compensate for the lack of moisture with an extra helping of mist and water for the roots. But one can tell that they are not in the best of their health, nor pleased with the cross they are made to bear.

Its not as if their human counterparts are any better off either. Especially the ones that were raised in tropical or temperate climes. I have a theory about these things. It proves itself over and over again, whenever I see a person in early fall wearing a thick fur coat, way too thick for his/her size and bulked up with all the padding inside. I think to myself...aha, this person is definitely new to a North American winter ! The reason is this. Once you get used to living in such climes, you rather quickly learn that the secret of staying warm in such weather is not in wearing the thickest coat that you can buy at the mall, but rather in the number of layers you wear. The more the number of layers inside, the warmer you feel. You see if I were to go on a tangent here and try to rationalize why that is the case, you would hear me explaining about the way heat is conducted in insulating mediums, and how every layer of insulation adds up, and also perhaps point to the science behind the thermos flask. In simple lay man terms, it is easier to explain that each layer of clothing, followed by air trapped between the layers, creates an insulating medium which in turn traps your own body heat and voila you have invented the worlds best space heater. I digress again.

Coming back to the original intent of this post itself, I can already see tomorrow's events unfolding. It shall begin with a snow shoveling exercise to clear the driveway, an unavoidable part of winter. Especially if you want to avoid the fine and a reprimand from the home owners association, not to mention being sued by your neighbor because his cat slipped on the sliver of ice in your driveway while attempting to take a crap under the dried out pot of tropical fern. Then comes the scraping of snow now turned to ice, from the wind shield of the car parked outside the garage. A slow drive to work, making sure that not to slam the brakes too hard, careful with the gas on the inclines so as not to swerve and go skidding into the opposite lane and crashing into oncoming traffic. A regular winter's morning!

The reason I mention all this is because as it turns out, the coldest day growing up was when I would have to wake up at 5 AM in the morning to study for my exams. The only reason I did that was to please my mom, who along with millions of other contemporaries of her time, strongly believes that the eerie dawn hours are the best time for the brain to soak up information. I vehemently challenge that theory, if not for anything else, at least because according to MY brain, that is the best time when a person needs to get a little more snuggly into their pillows and snooze, curled up inside a cozy blanket or comforter. If the above mentioned paraphernalia aside, this also includes another warm body that would be an added bonus. Anyways I digress again. I would wake up, cover myself with a blanket, like a maharishi sitting for a penance, book on the bed and start to read. Couple of paragraphs into my reading, I would adjust the pillow ever so slightly so as to be able to lean in and still keep reading. The next paragraph would go a little bit slower. Soon the pillow would be on my chest, I would be upside down on my belly, the book in front of me, my legs up in the air and the next sentence would start to feel like a paragraph. A few minutes later, my head on the book, the blanket over my shoulders, a snore would be barely distinguishable. Alas, the eerie cold dawn had gotten its victim yet again. The temperature outside of course would be a balmy 20 degrees centigrade ! Talk of changed perspectives in life.

1 comment:

Reepa said...

Very very nicely written I really loved reading it....... Did not want it to end..... Waiting for the next Part......

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