desi · random thoughts

Chilling out

Casual eyeballing of e-papers like TOI, ET, Hindu certainly helps to make virtual living in India a reality. Today, while I was catching up on Jugular vein, I came across an interesting article in the Chennai edition of TOI. It brought out the stark contrast between the current weather conditions in Chennai and Pittsburgh. Temperature has dropped to 20 degrees celcius at Chennaipattinam – and here, thanks to meteorological divine interventions, temperatures have dipped to below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

This, being my first winter in this part of the globe, I wanted to talk about how it feels.
The previous coldest experience for me before was a trip to Auli in the Himalayas. My friends and I had gone off from our campus at Lucknow in Tata Sumos to welcome the new millennium. We pitched tents at one of the most beautiful places in the world. However, I do not remember any other occasion when I have worn so many layers of clothing, monkey cap etc and still shivered. To me that was a night in the freezer.

When Aarthi and I watched the weather channel today, the reporter spoke of Wind Chill Advisory, frost bites and hypothermia. I couldn’t believe that just outside my house, where it seemed so bright and sunny, the temperature could indeed be -20. How would minus 20 feel? I decided to venture out to my balcony and this is what I felt:

Feeling 1: Somebody just threw an ice cold bucket of water at me.
Accompanying thoughts: It is so cold, there can be no water. It is not just ice cold, it is pure ICE

Feeling 2: Shivering – frequency of shiver is increasing slowly and steadily.

Feeling 3: Goose bumps are forming, raising body hair.
Accompanying thoughts: I read that goose bump formation is an attempt by the body to create an insulating layer of air around the body.
More accompanying thoughts: I wonder what would happen to the beautiful women who shave or wax (or whatever) their hair – goose bumps would be futile exercises to trap air, then.

Feeling 4: Something strange seems to be happening to my face and ears.
Accompanying thoughts: Frozen food, frozen vegetables – ok, but frozen face!
More accompanying thoughts: How would I thaw or put my face in microwave oven and manage to close its door??

Feeling 5: I tell myself not to feel the cold but to think about something hot like spiced chai.
Accompanying thoughts: Mind begins to imagine how frozen masala chai would look like.
More accompanying thoughts: If I take masala chai in a cup and get out from home, if chai freezes, will the tea trickle from the side of the cup or not?
Realization: I cannot move my hand, the imaginary tea cup is locked between my index and thumb fingers. This must be a frost bite!

Feeling 6: Shivering becomes more violent. An earlier post describes extreme shivering experience. To summarize, bones rub against each other and create sound, eerie mysterious dance by bones ensue.

Feeling 7: Movements are slow and labored, accompanied by a stumbling pace and mild confusion, but I know what is happening around me. Lips, ears, fingers and toes feel like they are stuck to my body with some kind of ultra cold god sent adhesive that is losing its stickiness index in direct proportion to elapsed time.

All of the above does not last for more than 3-4 minutes. I then walk back into the room and close the balcony door. I rush to kitchen and gulp down a glass of hot water as I cannot wait for coffee preparation.

It takes another 10 minutes to feel normal again.

Pittsburgh has to renamed as Iceberg at least during the winter months – an online petition shall be the next plan of action? For now, just chill, err … relax!


3 thoughts on “Chilling out

  1. With this post, you have redeemed your status as the best writer ever in my mom’s books! She loves your posts, and is always in awe of your writing!
    Funny post.. the fact that you decided to do a practical run to find the temperature is commendable!

    Ranga: What can I say? I am touched and thanks so much for the kind words. i am going maroon – blushing 😀

  2. Sorry to rub it in but we range from 40-55F here in SF, CA.

    That’s why you guys need to move to warm CA & not freeze out there.

    Happy New Year.


    Ranga: As if to answer our prayers, esterday was great warm day at Pittsburgh. We went to the mall, Walmart and Sam’s. The look of relief on peoples faces was worth watching. After what seems like a long long time, we could go out without jackets! CA seems like a dream – anybody who has been there praises it!
    Happy new year to you too.

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