Sunday, December 07, 2014

Oh Delhi winters, where art thou?

For the love of Winters

It's mid October in Delhi. When it's 7 in the evening, it is pitch dark outside. You step out of home and are suddenly met with a slim level of smog and a definite chill in the air. You know it- Winter is coming! The Delhi winters!

A full month passes and you still keep wondering why you don’t have to take out your sweatshirts and blankets and room heaters yet. The afternoons are still hot. Any layer more than a single full sleeve shirt is too warm in the weather. You want the temperatures to drop.

The foggy Delhi winters. Image Courtesy: FirstPost
A couple of weeks more and the fans are now switched off. The balcony doors and windows are closed in the evenings. The blankets are out but you tend to switch on the fan at a slow speed and put the heavy blanket on. Any other combination makes the temperature too hot or too cold.

December begins and you hope that finally the real cold days start appearing when getting out of the bed in the morning is the most difficult task you would be doing in the whole day. The amazing shade from the trees outside your home would be a thing for the summer. The top branches of the trees would be cut down for some sunlight to reach the homes. Once out of home, you would want to stay bathed in the sun for as long as possible. There would be lesser space in the bus and the metro because the layers of clothing everyone is wearing takes up a significant amount of physical space. The sweatshirts, hoodies, sweaters, pullovers, jackets would be making the streets of the city a lot more fashionable and colourful. Add to them the accessories- mufflers, scarves, gloves and caps. (Not to forget, monkey caps)

Winters suddenly make your ears hyper active. You tend to receive a whole load of sounds which you do not hear at other times of the year. You hear the sound of the gates opening outside. The clicking of iron with iron is too distinct. But then you realize the sound could be coming from any one of the many gates around the house. You hear the sound of the baby crying four floors above your flat and suddenly wish you had more soft clothes (aka curtains) around the doors and windows to keep the sound minimal.

When you go to bed and can't sleep soon, the most irritating sound comes- The ticking of all the clocks in the room! The sound, the constant tick-tick-tick, which you would otherwise never notice, sounds clear in your ears with the fans on hibernation mode and the surroundings dead silent. And it's not just the wall clock; even the small wrist watch's sound is distinctly audible. Somebody just attached loudspeakers to them!

Most of this month is a holiday apart from the few days when I have to wake up early and go to college for my semester exams. It is so difficult to wake up at 8.30 in the morning these days; I wonder how we used to wake up at 6.30 when in school.

The first week of January is when Delhi is the coldest with the minimum temperatures dipping down to near zero. Trains and flights are cancelled due to the immense fog cover. You shudder to get out of the blankets and go to the wash basin to brush. The toilet seats are too cold to sit and pressure rarely builds early in the morning before going for work. You get out of home at mid day and struggle to find the shining sun. ‘At least there is no loo, no dry heat’, you think and start wondering why you love the winters so much more than any other season.

It’s a week through December in Delhi already, but the temperature hasn’t gone down much yet. A single blanket seems enough for the nights right now. A full sleeve tee is enough for the cold outside during the day. The single digit temperatures haven’t shown their face. The bonfire nights on the rooftop and figuring out a way for your car in the dense fog when nothing beyond the windshield is visible, are still a few weeks away.

The weather department has predicted fog cover for next week. This year didn’t see monsoon rains in Delhi at all. Is this all an effect of climate change? Are the season cycles going to be more uneven in the months to come? Longer summer months and shorter winters and no monsoons?

Oh Delhi winters, where art thou?

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