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Getting your fill of the chill

india Updated: Jan 31, 2008 22:28 IST
Lalita Panicker

As winter’s icy breath wraps itself around us with the Beeb predicting that the temperature will hit zero and our own Met putting the figure at 2°C today, the greatest dilemma is how to get out of bed each morning and reach work without freezing to death. My older progeny has got it down pat. Half an hour before he has to leave for college, he will open one eye, order his breakfast, his clothes to be put out, the geyser to be switched on and the TV room heater up and running. As I start hyperventilating with the minutes ticking by, with 15 minutes before his departure, an extraordinary phenomenon takes place. He will leap up and hurl himself like the BrahMos missile out of his quilt into the heated TV room and wolf down his breakfast. This feat is accomplished in three minutes flat. He will then dive Beckham-like into the now hot bath.

Thence, back to the aforementioned heated room and in one fluid motion put on his clothes. A flurry of activity then ensues in which, breaking the sound barrier, he packs up, and like a low-flying aircraft heads for the lift yelling goodbyes to the hapless spouse and me. Having reached the porch, he races into the car which has been instructed to wait with open door, switches on the music, the car heater is on, of course, and off and away he goes. After college, it is a visit to the mall, heated no doubt, maybe a movie, a natter with the lovelies around the campus and then a comfy journey back home to a nice, hot dinner in salubriously warm surroundings.

I remember my college days when we had to arise at the crack of dawn in a frosty room and trudge our way through draughty corridors to breakfast a la surprise. Surprise because you could not tell what was on offer. Then, a dash to bathe only to find that the geyser had packed up. Blue with cold, you would emerge in the misty morning to trek towards the bus. On reaching, you would find it receding into the distance. Then in a manner worthy of Chariots of Fire you would sprint after it, catch up by some miracle and fling yourself in, mowing down passengers in the process. As always, there would be no place to sit; so you would stand valiantly taking in the full force of the draught in the bus that would have a few windowpanes missing. Having alighted at the nearest stop you would shiver your way to class. After tutorials, a quick scrounge around for the odd samosa.

And on days of desperation, a few hints to day students that you miss your mother’s cooking. When this fell on receptive ears, and an invitation came, you would turn cartwheels of joy and find it difficult to maintain your table manners. But most days, this ploy did not work. So, as evening fell, it was back to home base by bus, now filled with lecherous men. Battered by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, after eating what passes off for dinner and chatting with other hostellers, you’d fall onto your rockhard bed only to rise and begin the ghastly grind of another day. A different meaning altogether to chilling out, so dear to my progeny’s heart.