In July/August 1979 I came back from the UK to spend a couple of weeks at home. There, even in summers – then – the temperatures were on an average lower than at Curepipe in winter. I remember that everyone was wearing warm clothes, but I could do with a simple shirt with short sleeves. Aren’t you feeling cold? they asked – nope, I replied, with a bit of bravado. Even at night I wore a light cotton kurta-pajama to sleep, and needed but a light blanket.
I do recall that the weather on several days was rather rainy and cloudy – after all, Curepipe! – and the wind blew from time to time, but it was to me quite bearable as I wore light clothing, and did not need to cover my head. But then I had a fair bit of hair on my vault at that time, and most of it is gone now. In case you are wondering, I add that I do, nevertheless, need a ‘haircut’ every so many weeks, kind of tidying up the bits that hang out on the sides and back. I have reached a stage where the hairdresser cannot rely on the likes of me to make a living, though I must admit in the same breath that given the infrequency of my visits, as a regular client for that many years I am generous to the guy. After all, he has to use his skill to make sure the little hair I have doesn’t get messed up, which brings me to the following story that illustrates the point.
This guy had two remaining strands of hair sitting on top of his shiny scalp, and after he had sat down in the barber’s chair, the latter asked him, ‘What style, Sir?’ To which the client replied, ‘Centre parting.’
Soon after, the hairdresser addressed him in a contrite voice. ‘Excuse me, Sir, I must apologize for having broken one of the strands.’ He was expecting a burst from the client. But instead, the latter looked up to him and coolly said, ‘Pas faire narien jeune home, avoye tout en arriere’!
I have decided that when I reach that stage, and day, I will handle my hairdresser similarly…
To come back to our current winter, boy it’s been tough going. Call it anticyclone or whatever, but it’s been periods of several consecutive days of heavy rain spells and gusts of wind that brought down the temperatures further, what with the wind chill factor. Like yesterday, although it was sunny off and on, the wind was quite strong, and the weather chart on the mobile showed Curepipe at 16 degrees Celsius in the morning, rising to 19 in the afternoon. The guys in northern climes with sub-zero temperatures would surely chuckle – probably laugh, actually! – if they read this. But never mind, I have not taken any chances, as on the other days too from the beginning of the season, that’s been going on for nearly two months now. I use my cap, and wear my woollens. I took my ‘flu shot just a couple of weeks ago, quite late as a matter of fact, for whatever it’s worth. That’s how doctors look after themselves!
Got myself a new umbrella too, double baleine, on the expert advice of lady nurses who naturally know more about such things. My previous one, bought last winter, could not withstand the blasts of wind at Trou-O-Cerfs (TOC), and after battling with them several times trying to fold back down to normal parachute position the umbrella that would be pushed in reverse after being opened – not an easy task with the wind blowing and despite all tricks used – I realised that there was no point in trying to be cleverer than the elements. And so to the dustbin went not one, but two umbrellas. There’s no one about to repair them in these days of disposable everything. After all, when even computers and other such gadgets but a few years old become obsolete and find no takers, what’s with such apparently inconsequential things as umbrellas!
Another consequence of this rather hard winter has been the paucity of walkers at TOC, and the irregularity of the more persistent ones too. Coming as it does in the wake of the World Cup, the end of which was expected to bring TOC regulars gradually back to a degree of normalcy, it naturally gives rise to some lively comments among those who brave it out, albeit at later times in the morning when the weather clears temporarily. Of course, as we say out there, any time is a good time for walking, especially for the folks like myself who have taken a distance from rigid timings and commitments of which we have had our fair share for decades. Retired though not quite tired (a favourite cliché of some of my Indian friends), and preferring not to overdo.
Fortunately, though, it’s not all bad. Like two nights ago, when I was driving back late at night. There was a fine drizzle, continuing from a day of almost incessant rain. There was a fairly thick mist in the air in the dark night, but this combination of fine rain and mist produced a halo around the street lamps. A row of them in the road ahead created an almost magical spectacle, which was enhanced by a faint colourful rainbow effect encircling some of the lights. I slowed down to enjoy this magic, and looked forward to another magic as soon as I got home: change, take a hot cuppa, and ensconce myself under the blanket with a beautiful storybook! Until the oblivion of slumberland led to its own magic. Ah, glorious sleep!
It’s ok really, the harder winter this time round. Well, even if it’s equally so next year, I know I will be fine with that: I will seek out the magic…
* Published in print edition on 1 August 2014