Last month I read a front-page headline in newspapers that got me laughing till tears rolled out of my eyes. It was 7.30 am, I opened the sliding doors to the balcony, felt the refreshing chilly breeze bring a smile to my face and then I looked at the newspaper in my hand and read the headline which said something to the effect: Pune is colder than Shimla at 7.4 degree C. Apparently Shimla was at 13.6 the same day.
And there I was standing in the balcony in my jeans and a half-sleeve T-shirt, like a blithering idiot, having just woken up from a good night’s rest with the ceiling fan whirling on 3.
I quite forgot about the headline, till I reached office and found people in warm attire and talking about how cold it was and did I know that Pune was colder than Shimla.
I remember when Pune had less buildings, more open spaces, green cover, and open fields and much less number of vehicles. Like in the 1990s, when one would walk down Fergusson College Road or University Road and both roads had a veritable canopy made up of the leafy branches of the numerous tress on both sides of the road – felt like I was walking through a tunnel in a forest! And a 6 or 7 am walk in those days meant a bracing chill, a hint of fog on some days, making a warm cap and a light sweater necessary – which in turn meant the temperature was probably around 7-10 degrees C.
Back to 2017, and at around 7 degrees, I was thinking: “Where is the winter? Where, where, where?!”
But the headline made me think of a couple of things: First, that temperature is not the appropriate yardstick by which one can evaluate how cold the weather is;
Second, that it was a lazy and inaccurate headline but it did the job: grabbed the attention.
Why do I say that? Well, for starters, because that day at 13 point something Degrees C, my friends and family in Shimla had three layers of clothing during the day time, and at night were sleeping under heavy quilts. In Pune at 7 point something, most people were in a single layer of clothing, regular wear. I think that’s a fair indicator of what cold is and the degrees separating one level of cold from another.
Thankfully I have a friend (no, not Google), who is a weather scientist in Pune. He’s out and about the world at the moment, so I’ll catch up with him upon his return and get a real education on weather, temperature, yardsticks and the like.
Meanwhile, trust me when I say, this aint no cold that we all are experiencing yo. And I suspect a good bit of this new warm avatar of a cold Degree C has a co-relation to the number of vehicles, trees, and buildings in the city.
Sanjay Mukherjee is a Pune-based business consultant. He is Founder of RedstoneSummerhill and The Mountain Walker and also serves as Chief Strategy Advisor for the Hong Kong-based learning technology company, Peak Pacific Limited