Of course, you know what I’m going to write about if a) you read the papers
and b) you’ve read this space before. I know what I’m going to talk about
because I cannot stop talking about it, everywhere, it comes up frequently, in
every conversation, whether it’s real life or online. Normally, I shy away
from mundane subjects such as the weather, but when the weather is no longer
mundane and is instead standing on its head making faces at you, what can you do
but mention it?
I’m talking, of course, about the recent winter in Mumbai. Moving here from Delhi, when I refer to winter here, I say it scornfully, with quotation marks in my voice. "Winter" is the period lasting at most about two weeks, at the end of December and early January when Mumbai citizens pull out their monkey caps and huddle around bonfires, bemoaning the 22 degree weather. Last year, when I had just moved to this city, my Mumbai friends huddled into jackets, while I, fresh and smug from freezing Delhi danced around in tank tops and shorts.
Tropical cities agreed with me, my skin is dry and here in the humidity it
glows. But, yesterday morning, fresh from a shower, I was toweling off and I
noticed my skin was chapped! "This won’t do," I said to myself,
"Is Mumbai turning into Delhi?" Certainly it was on Sunday night. I
was out with some friends at a nightclub, and in regular nightclub clothes—a
smallish top, jeans, and just in case the air conditioning got too high, a light
jacket. I regretted this on the way back home in the taxi, where my fingers felt
they were made out of ice, and I was sure that my nose was going to fall off.
Was this really Bombay?
My friends have been wearing sweaters. I don’t own any sweaters in this city. I feel terrible that I’m so badly equipped, me, who needed a separate cupboard for winter clothes in Delhi. I miss my black trench coat and my red leather jacket. I miss being spiffy in the winter. But, what’s odd is, I miss the tropical weather too. I miss wearing skirts and feel the salt of the sea air wash over me and yes, I even miss the light layer of sweat that hangs over you (well, I don’t miss the sweat all that much) at the nooks of your elbows and behind your knees. I miss sinking into air conditioning and the joy of a cold shower. I, the winter addict, am turning into a heat seeker.
It’s warmer today. There are patches of sunlight occupied by sleeping cat. I had the the fan on last night (set at the lowest speed). Even though I had a quilt to curl up under. I should be thankful for small mercies. In Delhi it is so cold that school’s been cancelled. And since the Delhi schools are really anal about attendance, you know it’s pretty cold.
There are advantages to having a mild winter in Mumbai though. You always
smell nice, for one thing, as does everyone else around you. My hair which
frizzes in humidity looks great. It’s perfect if you’re a couple and you
want to do romantic things. In fact, the couple count along the promenades has
gone up considerably. Everyone seems to be in a better mood. People are slowing
down in this rushed city, slowing down and smelling the flowers, enjoying the
breeze, basking in sunlight and the sound of waves.
And it makes me poetic, clearly. Long may it last.