More than the molten asphalt of scorching summers, or the occasional monsoonal deluge, it is foggy winter that leaves the most visible and enduring imprint on the lives of those living through it. Cities - large ones like Delhi as well as towns and villages across north India - lie cocooned within an ugly, dreary spread, struggling (literally) to find their way through life. Fog is nothing more than condensed water droplets occurring close to the ground; it does not kill in itself. But by hampering visibility, it ends up causing deaths: whether through monstrous pile-ups on the highway or where moving vehicles have steered off from the straight and narrow.
The thick blanket of invisibility does not make life merrier for the hapless condemned to living within it. Flight and train schedules go haywire, as if in a poor but jocular mimicry of the careless merriment that humans had planned for themselves in this season. Those looking on with dismay at blinding fog along the airport runway or train tracks, regretting upset travel plans need only turn to Charles Dickens to articulate their feelings: "Fog everywhere… never can there come fog too thick".
And then when the season turns and the fog around us is dispelled, does it become difficult for the 'fog people' to face the real word again, to adapt to the new reality? Is reverting to routine and predictability something that everybody looks forward to? Or were there some among us secretly enjoying the temporary suspension of order, a place where "no one can find or touch you anymore", as Eugene O'Neill poignantly put it? The more perceptive among us may have already started tracing patterns and colours, their consciousness permeated with TS Eliot's "brown fog of a winter dawn". When the haze clears, maybe we will chance upon a brand new fog literature of our own.