Winter Blues: Dear Rest of India, Can You Please Stop Cold-Shaming Mumbaikars?

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Winter Blues: Dear Rest of India, Can You Please Stop Cold-Shaming Mumbaikars?

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

M

umbai, for the rest of India, has only two seasons – the scorching summer and the manic monsoon. The Mumbai winter is like Sohail in the Khan-daan, the third sibling no one is willing to admit exists. If you tell someone who is not from the city that it is winter in Mumbai, they look at you the same way your money-making friend looks at you when you tell him Android is better than Apple – with utter disbelief.

Here’s how every winter’s tale unfolds in Mumbai. When the temperature falls from 36 degrees Celsius to 27 and we Mumbaikars start wearing monkey caps and post pictures with #WinterIsCome before boarding that 7 am train to Churchgate, we are sledged at with the aggression of Virat Kohli in Australia. “Is this winter? Winter is when you spit and your saliva turns into ice crystals before it hits the ground,” our friends from Delhi mock. Sorry for having low standards, but for us, if we aren’t dripping in sweat by the time we alight the train, we declare it winter.

When we are all hyped about that one day in the year when we can wear that winter jacket, usually reserved for our annual trip to Matheran, or the temperature drops to 20 degrees in one corner of Aarey Colony, we are sent videos of soldiers playing cricket in the snow in Siachen. Maybe we should take it upon ourselves to remind the rest of the country what “real rainfall” looks like. (Except you Cherrapunji, you’re cool.) When we post an Instagram picture in a hoodie or with a shawl wrapped around us, our Delhi friends are first to comment and inflame the old Mumbai-Delhi rivalry: “Jacket in Mumbai? Looool, heat stroke ho jayega!” To all you Dilliwallas, I have just a few wise words: You can have the extreme winter, we will keep the (relatively) cleaner air, thanks.

I admit, as Mumbaikars, we can be dramatic about the odd month of non-sweat weather, or as the rest of the country calls it, “pleasant weather”.

But winter trolls are everywhere – they poke fun at you on Facebook and then they haunt you at work. A basic request to turn down the fan or switch off the office AC is met with a sneaky taunt by anyone who has a passing familiarity with the Himalayas. “Tum Mumbaiwale na, kabhi Himachal aao December mein.”

Winter has turned into some sort of dick-measuring contest and the cold-shaming that comes along with it is real. As Mumbaikars, we aren’t even allowed to celebrate a few sweat-free days without being bombarded with links to videos about hail storms in Gurgaon or a train moving through multiple feet of snow in Shimla. We are constantly reminded to stop hyping up the Mumbai winter like governments have done with GDP figures. But this winter-shaming has to stop.

I admit, as Mumbaikars, we can be dramatic about the odd month of non-sweat weather, or as the rest of the country calls it, “pleasant weather”. We start shivering when the temperature hovers around 25, sleep with two blankets when it drops to 20, and start expecting snow the minute someone says, “The minimum temperature today is expected to be 12.”

But this year, the temperature has touched 10 degrees in parts of Mumbai. No, this is not inside our air-conditioned homes and office. The feet feel a shiver when they touch the bathroom tiles and the breeze stings our ears at night. We need to keep car windows shut and wear two layers of clothing instead of one, unless you are Salman Khan of course, who will roam shirtless even in Siberia. As someone who has been cold-shamed all his life, I think we can now be accepted in the cold cities group officially. Besides, if so many people in the city are coughing away at the same time, then surely it must be cold right? Even Donald Trump agrees with this logic.

Plus, this month, I finally have some validation from my Delhi colleagues: They agree it is chilly, though they refuse to utter the W word. That’s a beginning. I think it’s time that the rest of the country also stopped cold-shaming us and finally admit, that with a bit of help from global warming and us screwing up the environment, the Mumbai winter has finally arrived.

We can finally stop saying, “Winter is coming.”

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