Till the time I was in India, I had always considered myself as very warm-blooded. As in, I never used to feel cold easily. My dad is like this and I guessed that I must have taken after him. Dad and me used to watch with smug faces while mum and sis piled on layer after layer of clothing in cold places. These opportunities for piling on clothes, however, were few and far in between. For most of my life before the US, we stayed in places where the weather was considered "cold" was when the temperature fell to around 22 degrees Celsius ( 72 degreees Farenheit). The only exceptions were when we lived Pune (which I don't remember due to being a baby then) and Calcutta (my visit to Darjeeling marks the first time my teeth chattered on their own due to the cold temparature).
Still, when it came to choosing colleges in the US for grad school, I tried to avoid will-snow-in-winter places as much as possible. Davis seemed like a good choice - after all California is supposed to ahve awesome weather, right? I landed here in the second week of September, 2001 - just the beginning of Fall season.
The very first night of stay in Davis, I needed a comforter to cover myself in order to keep warm. The next day, I wore a sweater to school. Yes, a sweater in September, when the sun was shining pretty merrily. I just couldn't stop feeling cold! As you can imagine, as the days went by, it only got worse. Where on earth had all my previous tolerance for cold disappeared to?
In the end of October 2001, another first in my life happened. I could not sleep due to the cold. For some reason, the heater in the apartment was not working for a few days and by sheer bad luck, those few days turned out to be unseasonally cold. To keep warm, when I went to bed, I wore two sweaters, two pants, socks, muffler, woollen cap, gloves and covered myself with a thick blanket and a comforter. I still shivered. That was when it hit me, I had been living under a major delusion all my life. My tolerance for cold temperatures had obviously never existed. I had no business saying I was very warm-blooded if couldnt stop shivering under multiple layers in snowless Davis.
At the end of my first quarter in Davis I went to Mt. Shasta with a bunch of friends. That was a very memorable trip - I touched snow for the first time in my life :-). I fell in love with the snow at first sight and had a slight twinge of regret that I had not chosen to study in a place which had more easy access to snow. That is, until I realized that snow made me feet feel damp *always*, made me feel cold *always* and made me feel like an astronaut with all the layers I wore *always*. I was one happy ducky when we bid adieu to the snow and returned to Davis.
Of my subsequent encounters with snow, the one in Yellowstone National Park was the worst. We camped in the snow (brilliant me was the great soul who had been the staunchest proponent of the camping idea) in sleeping bags and tents not equipped for cold weather. Needless to say, in a couple of hours, all of us had shifted from the tent to the mini-van and turned on the heater in an effort to not freeze and die.
With all these experiences under my belt, I try to stay away from really cold weather as much as I can. Northerners and Mid-westerners can call me wimpy but California is plenty cold enough for me, thank you!
Which is why, I am still wondering how on earth I booked tickets to visit my friend V in Chicago in the end of October. My brain which sometimes comes up with stunning pieces of logic had apparently reasoned that since it was fine weather when I booked tickets a month ago, it still should be fine when I actually travelled - smart!
Anyways, the net result is, I am heading out to Chicago this weekend. I am very excited about meeting V after ages. I will also get to meet his wife M finally :-). As an added bonus, M is apparently a great cook (yaaay :-D). On the flip side, even V, who has very good cold tolerance has warned me about the current cold spell in Chicago :-(!
I have dug out my thickest clothes and have packed multipe layers of everything. So, in the news, if you hear about a person closely resembling an Eskimo being spotted in the Chicago region, it is probably me. If you hear about someone who froze into an ice statue in Chicago, that is also probably me.
Adios for now! I shall give you cold weather survival tips when I get back to more human-habitable regions (i.e. bay area).
That picture shows the snow in the Bay Area mountains which I could see on my way to work at the beginning of this year. This extremely rare occurence of snow in this region was sufficiently far away from me - so I thoroughly enjoyed looking at it every morning while it lasted :-))!