In India, especially in Chennai, one dreams of a cool day or a cold night. A day when you need not walk out of a bath and feel it was pointless, a day when you can walk the roads without squinting at the un-pardoning sun or care about the browning or blacking (depending on your original color) of exposed skin, a night when you can have a romantic candlelight dinner by a fireplace(unimaginable), a month when you feel like you haven’t written off your hard-earned money to the Madras Electricity board (thanks to the all-consuming A/C unit). Above all, one could dream to see snow, a frozen ‘Koovam Nadhi’, dusty roadside pavements camouflaged by an inch or two of white clean(looking) snow, icicles hanging from the 8 or 9 floors of Saravana stores buildings in T.Nagar, Somasundaram ground becoming a massive ice-skating rink, etc… etc..
Being in Chicago, and that too in December, I would gladly endure a sweaty, scorching, bright and sunny day. Well, I am sure all you folks in Chennai are saying, ha! Seriously you would definitely understand my position if you had slipped on black ice and all 190 lbs of you had landed with a thud right outside the garage.
The truth is, snow is beautiful for a day and then it becomes dangerous. Getting out of the house entails a 15 minute process of locating the appropriate jacket for the day, bundling up in sweaters, scarves, jackets, gloves, socks and boots. Then you open the garage and find that the snow has to be ploughed. If you are unluckier, it could be ice, because let’s face it – it is denser and thicker and harder than snow and much tougher to plough. If you are unluckier still and don’t have a garage, you are also faced with the 20 minute rigmarole of having to ‘transparentize’ all the opaqued transparent parts in your car, and if you are car is an obsolete model that does not have key-less entry, you might have to de-ice the key-hole to even get your car started. All of this to just get out of the house.
Then of course, in a moment of carelessness or haste, you might just slip on ice and land on your back. Still worse you could hit your head and go through several months of hospital visitation (like my friend once did) to rectify your brain. In Chicago, the windy city, which is rightly called so, the wind tests the success of all the ice-cream, oil, ghee and fattening agents that you have consumed all year, by trying to get past all your layers of fat to chill you to the bone. In that way, I should consider myself rather lucky, for I have not one year but several years of fat to my defense. After all the time spent in getting ready to head out, you try to hurry to work, but further frustrated by all the accidents on the road caused by careless travellers driving before you.
So you start the day ‘lucklessly’ so, manage to get to work or wherever, do your thing during the day, and before you look out of the window twice, you see it’s already dark because it is already 3:30 p.m and then drive back in the dark through miles of traffic to a home which could have been warmer no matter how high the thermostat is set at.
For all this and more, welcome to Chicago during the winter. But hey, don’t be disillusioned. There are better things during winter. Christmas lighting and Christmas cheer at least gets us all past New Year, then it’s back to waiting for spring which will also bring our parents here from India.