Sunday, December 05, 2010

It’s the season to be jolly

During my 4 years of stay in the U.S., I seem to have developed a love-hate relationship for winters. I can give you more reasons for hating winters than for liking winters. Winters in the U.S. are cold, damp, harsh, white, lifeless, leafless, rainy, and snowy. The trees have already shed their leaves and everything looks barren and lifeless. You can’t really go to a nearby beach without freezing blue, you cannot drive to a nearby national park. Forget national park, every driving to the nearest grocery story will take you a while because you need to warm up your car’s engine well enough, get rid of the sheen of ice that forms on the windshield, and all this while you freeze inside the car. Of course, it is different for people who live in Florida or Southern California, but most of the U.S. don’t get to live in Florida or Southern California. Be it Seattle or the east coast, you are stuck wherever you are, unable to see the sun for days.

I remember a side story as I type this. More than 4 years ago, I had received a couple of admits from different schools. Two of them happened to be very highly sought after schools in my field. However, I had no idea about those schools. I did an informal sample survey when most people told me place A rained a lot while place B snowed a lot. That is how I chose Seattle over Ann Arbor.

Anyway, I see people eagerly waiting for the winters, and I wonder why. For one, you are required to wear clothes than weigh more than you do. You need to make sure all your orifices are properly covered, ears, nose, even eyes. It feels horrible to go outside and feel chills and shivers. It’s a pity that the 3 most important holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years) come one after the other during the winters. Flight prices are so expensive, and the choices for sunny places are so less, you end up staying home although you have more vacation than you would at any other time. You freeze, your car freezes, your social life freezes, it is not really a happy situation. To make it worse, most of your better friends temporarily migrate to India for a few weeks, and here you are stranded in the middle of nowhere with all your friends gone. To make it worse, you sit at home getting updates on how these fair weather cold weather friends are having alu’r chop, beguni, and fuluri back in India. As a kid, I romanticized the fantasy settingofn many English novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights where everything was cold, white, and gloomy, where the protagonists drank soup and read story books by the fireplace. I romanticized the idea of walking in the snow, like they showed in Bollywood movies, hurling snow balls at others and singing and dancing. Sadly, I have matured, seen the world for myself, and no longer reflect the fantasies portrayed in English novels or Bollywood movies.

I hate winters for more reasons than I love winters. However, there are a handful of reasons why winters become not only bearable, but memorable too. I associate winters with piping hot chicken soup. Winter for me is sitting by the fireplace reading books and drinking hot cider. My friend Chirag introduced me to so many things that I love doing in winters. I love the culture of doing office work or school assignments in coffee shops, something I do in winters since there are not many places to go then. I love hot apple cider. I love gingersnap latte from Starbucks, something you get ONLY during the winter holiday season. I love the way homes are decorated, little lights flashing and telling me that someone had the enthusiasm to decorate their homes despite the cold. I love seeing decorated Christmas trees. I love Christmas cakes and cookies. I loved visiting Candy Cane Lane in Seattle during the holiday season. Every year, a winter trip to Leavenworth in the snow was a must. The first time it snowed every year, Chirag and I stopped at the nearby Starbucks for coffee, and drove around in unknown neighborhoods in the snow. While there are more options of activities in summer, winter limits those activities and ensures you spread your social radar wide and do more social things like chatting by the fireplace over cups of hot chocolate, meeting people in coffee shops, and go watch people decorate their homes during Christmas. Winter is the time when I thank God that I don’t live in permanently snowed in places like Chicago, Rochester, or Iowa. I buy a Santa cap every year and flaunt it and wear it everywhere. Somehow, I always manage to lose it or give it to someone at the end of the season. This has happened thrice in a row now.

I love to see the world go by dressed in red and black. Shopping malls are lit up and Santa Claus is found posing with the babies and the grown-up babies. Christmas carols are playing, and festivity is in the air. I usually sit at home and watch the South Park Christmas episodes, or movies like Serendipity and When Harry Met Sally during December. Bath & Body Works has a huge sale and I pamper myself buying more body care products than I need. I love to sit back and watch people in enthusiasm, little babies all dressed nice and pretty, happily playing in the snow and dancing around. Life becomes a carnival in motion. I miss driving to parks and traveling during the winters. I hate the cold and the dampness I feel. However, winter gives me a chance to sit back and watch other people in merrymaking. It also gives me a chance to wear those nice coats in red and black I have collected for myself all these years.

Happy brrrrr winters J


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