“It’s official folks, winter is here,” announced yesterday’s paper. I read this while I was sitting in a sunny corner on the terrace in short sleeves and bare feet. I had to laugh. I had just spent three shivering cold weeks in Belgium and had brought back a miserable cold as a souvenir. The day was feeling especially summery to me. By my standards anyway. But having grown up in Canada, my standards are obviously not South Indian standards. Not when it comes to defining winter anyway. For me winter is snow, hats and scarves, hot chocolate, hot water bottles and wind-chill factors. If it really were winter, I wouldn’t be sitting out on the terrace in short sleeves.
I read on to learn that a minimum temperature of 12.7°C had been recorded in Bangalore this month (against a maximum of 25 to 29°C) – which was dangerously close to the record of 12.2°C recorded in November 1991. Reading on, there was worse news: temperatures are expected to dip further!
In order to try to help readers avoid the impending calamity of such low temperatures, some helpful advice was offered:
Avoid venturing out early mornings and late evenings.
Always cover your ears; keep yourself warm.
Consume freshly prepared food and boiled water.
Make it a habit to gargle twice a day.
Use medicated soap for better skin care.
Use lip balm, vaseline and moisturiser at frequent intervals.
During the day, it’s hot enough to get sunburned, but at night the temperature does take a dip of at least 10 degrees so it can feel a little ‘chilly’ at times. Of course India’s many entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity offered by the falling mercury to make a fast buck or two. Sidewalks are lined with vendors selling heavy jackets and sweaters, blankets, woollen hats and a head covering I’ve only seen in India: a strip of woven cloth which goes on the head and down the sides of the face over the ears and tied under the chin. A variation of earmuffs?