Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Has winter cometh?

O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

It is winters again. Small nuggets of early December chill have started to tease people randomly. These days one often sees the hoi polloi compressing their necks on the roadside, involuntarily, many times during the day. That perhaps keeps the cold out. Many people wear very unfashionable but supremely warm – so I am told – monkey caps. It is a cap that covers everything from neck upwards, a la mask. Thankfully there is a slit for eyes. You only need a lantern-in-hand to look like one of those 70s movie-style chowkidars, guarding some abandoned circuit house, where a lovelorn damsel walks barefoot on moonless nights. There are many amusing ways to fend the cold off and I find Delhiites pretty ingenuous in this respect.

I reckon the chill factor strictly obeys the law of relative income levels. Everyone well-to-do I bump into [and I bump into lots of them these days] is exfoliated. They wear not too many clothes. A fashionista whispered to me, as I broached the clothing topic, "Sam, these days minimal is in! A shirt or a tee, a multi-color muffler [to be worn more like a tie, you see] and you can compliment it with a feather-light jacket. No undershirts, no heavy-duty attire. Period." I don’t know the winter code for chicks but I assume it must be a tad more minimal than guys.

Meantime those who form longish queues for busses continue to don hand-knitted sweaters, mufflers and warm clothes. Bus cleaners and some employees in the government sector are often found in good old woolens, mostly in a garish colors. The common janta for sure has a penchant for numerous layers of the winter ensemble to keep themselves cosy which makes sense also. I don't understand why I must wear fewer clothes, just to look the party type.

So winter mornings in Delhi appear dreary as death and evenings start exactly as the clock strikes six. Peanuts and popcorn sell like hot cakes at roadside vendors. I have peanut allergy so I can't really help myself but I love the way people consume peanuts in the capital. There are little hills of peanut pods around folks who consume the seed but rarely trash the pods.

I really can’t say that I love the chill [I do have a thing for rains] but I prefer it over the horrid Indian summers. Winter, they say, is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat.

Delhi, Winter 2007