The other day, I found myself at a class meeting at Ayaan's school. Once the agenda was over and done with, a parent raised her hand to ask a question:
'It is so cold in the mornings. My son's legs are exposed in the shorts. Can we please have the option of sending them to school in long pants or jeans till the winter gets over?"
I wondered whether the mother in question was joking and turned around to find her to be completely in earnest. I looked down at my sleeveless top, cotton capris and flipflops and wondered - what winter?
My mind instantly went back to my school days, spent in the chilly environs of Delhi. When winter rolled around, we went from wearing our summer uniforms to more heavy duty woollen stuff. But even as we braved the fog and temperatures in the low single digits on our way to school, our legs were pretty much exposed to the elements. Girls, irrespective of their class, wore skirts and boys wore shorts till they got to senior school but with our feet encased in thick woolen socks and 2-3 layers of warm clothes on our torsos, we weren't in any danger of hypothermia. And here in positively tropical climes, there was talk of covering up legs in long pants or stockings!
To my mind, Mumbai has only two kinds of weather. Hot and rainy. Cold is simply not on the menu. My wardrobe remains the same through the year in this city. December doesn't see me banishing my shorts and slinky tops to the farthest reaches of my wardrobe. And my limited stock of woollies stay wrapped up with mothballs unless a trip to the North is on the cards. The only concession I make for this so-called winter is to reduce the speed of the fan.
But that's not how most long-time Mumbaikars view the city's seasonal variations. In fact, you can tell a born-and-bred city slicker from the migrants by the way they dress in the 'winter' months. They are the ones with the jackets, scarves, stoles, socks and turtlenecks in full display on their evening walks. They are the ones who carry warm stuff to office in December because the air-conditioning at work makes them shiver. They are the ones who put up Facebook status updates about how they are chilled to the bone. To someone who grew up in the North, it's all very amusing :)
And the media hops on to the winter bandwagon as well. Every city newspaper worth its salt carries at least a weekly article commenting on the drop in mercury. Here's a random sampling from the last month or so:
Temperatures dip in city as winter sets in
2010 ends on coldest note in seven years
City's coldest day
And what do you think this brrrr-inducing annual low temperature they are talking about is? 12.8oC (or 55oF for the American residents amongst us). And that is the minimum temperature, recorded at hours when most respectable people are fast asleep. During the daytime, the temperature continues to be in the tropical late twenties and early thirties.
I shouldn't be too quick to poke fun at the warm-blooded Mumbaikars though. Because my son is one by virtue of being born here and having a father with Goa in his blood. Like the husband, he wants to take his jacket along to air-conditioned movie halls and restaurants and complains bitterly if we deign to forget. And wears a sleeveless sweater to school in December and January. Kids exist to make us eat our words, don't they :)