Thursday, October 26, 2006


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 :-))!


The Kid said...

adade, namma ooru pakkamma darisanam kattaringale...

kaapi sapadalam, vareegala ?

Inder said...

have a nice trip :)

Anonymous said...

And now you know why, after retirement, I figured out I would be happier in Florida.

Saranya Kishore said...

Hey Arch,

Have a good trip to Chicago :--) And hope you would write all about it when you are back.

When I came to the US first I remember jumping in joy at the first snow. But by the third winter, I hated it. That was what US was for me. :--) Cold places are cleaner me thinks, no dust and dirt. But hey, I have no regrets that I am able to go out without bundling myself up in October ;--))
In winter, CA is the best place to be in. May be you should ask people to visit you. :--))


Thanu said...

I have lived in east coast for the most time, moved to bay area couple of years ago and all my winter clothes are tucked away in storage. The only time they see sun is when I'm visiting east cost.

PS: I'm wearing capri pants and a t-shirt today ... Go California..

spark said...

same here. i feel uncomfy with a lot of clothes. so the cold doesn't suit me at all. and the wind adds to the misery. if chicago lives to its windy city name, it'll be mercilessly cold, i believe.

i've avoided snow so far, but queenstown is so south that i'll be soon havin my snow touches in a short time. but thank god, it'll be a quick trip.

you have a good time when you chica'go'.

Archana Bahuguna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Archana Bahuguna said...

Well, about cold tolerance, Ditto! I feel cold when temp get below 70 F right from my childhood. Yest afternoon it was in 60's and I was wearing a warm sweater with a jacket over it!

And same here, I never applied to univs in Boston or NY like places bcos even imagining the snow made me feel cold in India! :-D

I also have an old friend in Chicago who was talking about the current cold spell there! :-)All the best, have fun, click eskimo pics and do write a nice blog (with pics) after u are back!

Anonymous said...

i am not steping into usa or the artics...its abt 24-23C here in chennai and im freezing..

Ginkgo said...

cold spell? Chicago?
really..wonder which part of Chicago I live in :-)

sorry I saw this late, is this trip already done? or still yet!!

maybe I cud have given u 5 mins of my precious time:P

Calm & Serene said...

Hey! I live in Bay area too. Where do you live?

I saw the mountains that time, and it was absolutely fantastic!

Anonymous said...

eppdiyaavathu oru foto pottudanum.... athaana unga plan??

kuttichuvaru said...

echoosme..... the previous anon was me!!

Shilpa said...

Hey Arch,
so how was the trip ?
Did the planes get delayed ?

Archana said...

Pratap - next time, okva?

Inder - thank you :-) - I had a nice trip :-)!

Floridora - LOL :-)! I totally empathise!

Saranya - I had a great trip - will start posting soon :-)! That's true - usually Cal is the winter destination of choice - unfortunately its been that so often that there are no more places left to see here :-(!

Thanu - Go California! But heh, heh I have to admit, I put away my capris into storage about a month ago itself - it is already cold for me *embarassed grin*!

Spark - Oh, the wind is beastly in Chicago. It pierces you right to the bones :-(! Have fun in the snow :-)! This chica did go and had a good time :-P!

Archana - I can totally empathise with that :-)! Post coming up soon :-))!

iamvisheshur - LOL - that's exactly how I would have sounded five years ago!!

Ginkgo - Ppl with, ahem, thick skin would not have noticed the cold spell :-P! Nahiiiiiiiiiiinnn - I missed the chance to meet the Great Ginkgo - boo hoo - I have missed my only chance at salvation :-(! LOL :-P! Indha pakkam vandha sollu, I shall give you more than five minutes of my not-so-precious time :-)!

Saumya - these pics were taken in San Jose :-)! Where do you live? I know - I loved my commute to work those few mornings - seeing the beautiful snow-covered mountains made me feel so at peace with the world!

Anon/Kuttichuvaru - adhey, adhey :-D! Aana, nalla irukku la picture?

Shilpa - I bugged you with the whole story already :-D!