It has finally come to pass that we Mumbaikars have been authorized by the powers that be to dress up like Delhiites. In that I mean them boots, skin coloured socks, mufflers, turtlenecked sweaters, denim jackets lined with fleece and all the wonderful yummy woolen wear we save up for those precious vacations when we visit chilly climes and dress like monkeys going to the Arctic. In totally uncoordinated messed up heaps of cold meant to ward off the cold better than a bottle of brandy warming the innards could ever hope to. Yup. The brandy works better. Would have downed some on the sly, but the unmentionable persons had got to it first. And since one had no brandy left in the house and no courage to brave the freezing winds hitting and sidling into one’s ears to get some more, one huddled up within blankets and shivered one’s well insulated butt off.
It is now official. Despite the body fat percentage on my carcass being enough to get a full sized polar bear through an entire Arctic winter of hibernation, I myself, will never be able to make it through the Ice Age. Or any cold for that matter which has the thermometer dipping below the 15 degree mark. Unless I have my feet toasted by those lovely charcoal sigris, my ears covered up with monkey caps and self enclosed in confined space with every window and door double insulated and shut tight to be opened only on the pain of death and horrific dismemberment. While the rest of the city chirps around in tshirts with them fine Pashmina fake shawls, looking like they just stepped off the runways, I stagger around with boots (close them feet up completely, thick denim jeans and am embarrassed to state, woolen socks within, turtleneck pullovers and since, have all my jackets packed away in the mother’s loft for travels to foreign climes, an assortment of woolen shawls with Kashmiri handwork, and rough wool pankhis to keep me alive. No. Am not looking chic. Have arrived at a grudging respect for them women who manage to stay warm and look stick thin at the same time, despite layering on woolies. Read really slim and sleek. They are wearing them thermals underneath am sure. Being a Mumbaikar, and living in airconditioned confines for the entire year, have never needed them thermals and actually set out in quest of them the other day to find Lokhandwala market shop that always boldly advertised availability of thermals regardless of season and climate, even through days when the shop was flooded in during the monsoons, was out of stock. “Madam, agle hafte ana. Stock aa jayega.” I pouted. “Boss, agele hafte tak Mumbai mein thand khatam bhi ho jayegi.” Anyway. Bad bad salesman. If I die of pneumonia, you know whom to file the FIR against. For criminal neglect.
I discovered my lack of affinity with the cold climes when the husband took me to Ooty for a vacation that had me refuse to get out of my triple layering of woollies. Lets just say not much romancing and passion happened, when triple thick layers of handknitted woollies come as barriers to skin to skin contact. And when the triple thick layers are not removed under threat of immediate abandonment and divorce, they do not contribute to the romance of the moment. All those hill town romances are good only in the movies. I would have been the girl refusing to sashay with the muffler wrapped fetchingly around elfin face. I would be the girl wrapped in everything she could lay her hands on including the hotel blanket and then insist on doing her sightseeing from the tourist bus. (Am guilty as charged. The Bollywood tour in Ooty. I saw it from the bus. )
The husband in the meanwhile continues to be man of steel and iron. Going for his daily jog in his tee and shorts. Bare legged. Only his sneakers and his shorts covering the two extremes of his legs. So there I am muffled upto the gills with shawls and monkey cap and mufflers while he comes in puffing and panting and rushing into the shower for an ice cold shower. You know. I pick my jaw off the floor and go drape the blankets on myself. “You go get your haemoglobin checked,” warns the mother in tones so dire, she could be portending a fatal disease. “With all your weight you shouldn’t feel so cold.” Yes, thank you for the compliment. My fat is pure insulation that isn’t working too well. Do you also realize that I should be in hibernation now. Deep in a warm cave. Undisturbed. Rather than being forced to awake at ungodly hours of six am to make tiffins and tea and get the household moving. Such cruelty. Is there a society for prevention of cruelty to wannabe polar bears?
Will now swallow my angst with a goodsized shot of that brandy and get my carcass into coordinated sweater and pullover and shoes and look like I could just be stepping off that ski lift at Aspen. Bah. If only the other skiers wouldn’t yell out, “Bear up ahead.”