We would like to thank Ali Hassan for this post and heartily wish him a great Eid!
As I stepped outside the library, a sudden gust of wind sent shivers down my spine and triggered a memory that I never knew was there. Ages ago, while I tuned in to PTV (yes, I was devoid of cable till O levels) to see our beloved Pakistan team play, I listened to an advertisement commercial that kind of lay forgotten in my mind and rushed back to my mind, a very catchy freezer commercial. ‘Koi nahi hai aisa waves triplet jaisa, jo bhi rakho is mai foran jam jaye”… That is exactly how I felt as this rush of wind rattled the bones of my body and pierced my woollen clothes that would have survived the coldest of winters in Pakistan yet its defences failed against a pitiful Canadian wind.
“Kulfi jam gayi yaar” (an Urdu sentence commonly spoken to express how cold it is), this is what I used to say to my friends back home when the temperature dropped down to 10 degrees. Now I realize what the term actually means. And to add to my woes, my university, (University of Waterloo in Canada), tends to fall in the snow-zone, what else could go bad? Coming from a place where a simple t-shirt and a pair of jeans would prove too warm at most occasions, this cold is such an element that even we Pakistanis cower from.
Pakistanis love food, now don’t we? *thinks of the MM. Alam road* Yeah, so we crave for food. But such are the conditions that when we are given the choice of staying warm inside and starving or walking to eat something and getting frozen to death we choose to stay inside the warmth of our place rather than eat.
There are days when getting out of bed we see a fine sunny day and feel happy about it. But this happiness is rather short-lived as the afternoon transforms into the dusk we see such an astounding change in the weather that our decision to wear a simple hood proves to be a huge mistake. The long gone blistering heat is now vividly remembered as I go to bed each night praying that it doesn’t go below negative the next day. Heat we can bear, we have been raised to, but this frosty atmosphere combined with furious windstorms prove unbearable at times.
At the same time, we are sitting inside cursing this miserable wintery weather; there are people who seem to be as comfortable in it as we are when it is forty degrees. Going around their normal chores with fur-caps, leather gloves and down-filled jackets they could not seem to care less about this gigantic change in weather and continue on their daily routine as if it is not even worth a thought! This makes it even harder to configure which Chinese person you know and which you do not, first their faces and now their clothes, it is like they are two leaves of the same tree!
One day I was walking with a friend, rather hurrying as fast as we could in the bitter cold when we were complaining as usual about this cruel weather and flinching at the prospect of the weather even worsening. Wrapped in as many jackets and hoods we had brought along we were looking more like Eskimos than university students, I saw incredulously at three blondes jogging on the pavement in shorts and burst out in annoyance (referring to their crazy attire):
“Dude, wo gorion ko to dekho” (Dude, look at those ‘white females’- sorry for the lack of a better translation)
My Friend: “yaar, mai to kab se dekh raha hun, tune ab dekhi hain” (I’ve seen them, you noticed them now)
And then I realized, we Pakistanis are too focused of what lies on the surface to care about anything else! Be it sunshine or be it snow, their colour will change but there attire won’t.
The difference is enormous between the two countries; In Pakistan, one would still be wearing summer clothes and manage whereas here it is nothing short of committing suicide; back home, I would have never found out why they call this season “fall”, now seeing the million of leaves on the ground (I still cannot comprehend the fact that the trees can even hold that many leaves), I know why it is called the fall!
At such extreme levels, it is out of necessity that we go shopping, an endeavour we seldom make as the prices here are beyond our wildest imaginations! Yet we go from shop to shop looking for the cheapest warmest clothes that we can find, cursing when we find something we already bought to be cheaper now and rejoicing on finding a good bargain.
Its mid-November and winter approaches swiftly; we already cower at the prospect of leaving the warmth of our homes even to go to classes and it is with dread that we anticipate the harsh winters of this North American territory. Hearing from others does not do justice to this weather at all and certainly experiencing them is torture enough but surviving them poses us a stiff ordeal.
Still, days slip by and we await the worst hoping that once it drops down past -5 degrees, even -20 would not matter as we cannot possibly perceive any difference in these two levels of coldness.