Being Women

Contrasting Joys And Sufferings Of Delhi Winter: An Appeal For Connection and Compassion

Have you thought about how the coldness we feel from within? The emotions that lie hidden deep within us? 

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

– John Steinbeck

Having been born and brought up in Delhi, winters start the moment I face a dilemma – what to wear followed by the quest of finding the perfect fit as it’s neither too hot nor too cold  It also begins when my mother starts reminding me to keep the summer clothes aside and unpack the winter ones.

Comfort over style

Dressing in the winter is tough for a lazy person like me. When I have to step out and get dressed up, I can just wear a nice jacket that’s warm enough, and beneath it, I can put on a comfortable outfit that can be plain and simple. They can be clothes that have faded out or been a bit torn. It’s always comfort over style that I choose, especially at a time when the winters can be bone-chilling.

Soaking in the Sun

Delhi has unpredictable weather, where for almost ten months we face the brunt of the extreme heat. We try all possible ways to escape the scorching sun. But once the winters are here, all we look forward to is the sight of the sun making an appearance on foggy, chilly days.

Sitting on our balconies, sipping chai or coffee, munching winter snacks like Chikki, and basking in the glory of the sun – this is what winter is! The warmth that we receive serves as reassurance and validation on our bad days. Getting that vitamin D can, at times, serve as a real energy booster.

Being Lazy

Wrapped up in thick, cosy, warm blankets, (two to three) and feeling like spending the entire day in bed, wishing that the day gets longer so that we can sleep more and escape work – that’s how winter looks in Delhi. We dread the idea of waking up in the middle of the night to drink water or answer nature’s call. Taking a shower is unthinkable. We keep delaying shampooing our hair. It’s a morbid task. Fervent prayers to the force above that the sun comes out, our clothes dry up and we can get to wear what we want to.

Finding Solace

All we do while stepping out is exhale air out of our mouths like little kids, watch it take shape and then proceed to scribble on the misty windshields & cars.

We find comfort on a typical winter night in a hot cup of chocolate milk, soothing music, our favourite blankets and our books. In their company, time just flies away.

“Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don’t have the strength to fight it.” -George R. R. Martin

Physically warm, but emotionally?

But have you thought about how the coldness we feel from within? The emotions that lie hidden deep within us? 

Some things are deep-rooted and no matter how hard we try to escape, there is always a possibility that they might get aggravated during this season as the extreme cold can push a person into further isolation.

Those who are settled far away from their homes to earn a living are lonelier. While looking at the snow may bring joy to some, it may also make some feel the void and emptiness in their lives. Watching people in a festive mood during Christmas can be painful. Such occasions remind them that they are apart from family. At such times, all they crave is the warmth of their loved ones around them. 

It is during this season that we see people coming home, especially the NRIs. Personally, when I have a reunion with my friends who have settled abroad during winter, I find it very rejuvenating, as if nothing has changed. The magic of the human touch is all one needs to drive away self-loathing, loneliness, and anxiety.

The Suffering 

Many tend to fall ill, especially people with breathing problems in this smog-filled environment. Children are deprived of the chance to step out as schools are closed. They cannot go out to play because of pollution and the extreme cold. This often leads to depression and social anxiety.

Finding a roof over the head

Homeless people barely manage to survive during such extreme conditions. Without proper clothes, bedding and shelter,  they spend the day running from one corner to another to make ends meet and then end up on roads and footpaths, shivering and helpless.  This side of the coin shows us how at times nature inflicts an unfair fate on the downtrodden.

How can we, as a society, turn a blind eye to the lives of the needy and the poor?

Last year, we saw how the Delhi government created dedicated teams to pick up homeless people from the streets and rehabilitate them in night shelters in different parts of the city. They were provided with the necessary amenities, from lodging to food.

What also needs to be taken into consideration is proper sanitation, enough space, and the safety of the people who reside in these night shelters should be taken into account.

Helping the needy 

Winters reveal the anomaly. Some people possess too much while others lack the basics. Winters expose us not only to the cold weather but also to the cold attitude of humans. Not just humans, but even animals on the streets are not paid attention to.

However, humanitarian and NGOs, try their best to reach out to the helpless.

Let’s take a vow this winter to step out of the comfort of our homes and do the needful for the homeless. Let us not be harsh like the winter, but be kind, and compassionate, and beat the coldness that dwells in our heart and around us. Let warmth and love reign.


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