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Winter wear

So this year, we Bambaiyas got a winter dhamaka, with low (lowest?) temperatures.

Some afternoons I was reminded of studying for my college exams in Delhi, when the sun was sulking and your brain didn’t work because your toes were so cold even though you were sitting under a 15 kilo satiny razai.

Illustration/ Amit Bandre
Illustration/ Amit Bandre

Any moaning and groaning about this would prompt scornful jokes from my hale and hearty cousins - dimaag is in your ankles or what, har har? My Punjabi father would ruefully tease me about my quarter Eastern blood - tu Bangali hi nikli beta. In later years when I complained about the cold there would be more head shaking - yaar tu Bombaywali ho gayi hai.

What to do? Despite the drama of our monsoon, whose cultural joys we love to iconicise - burnt bhutta, soggy frankies, and going home in wet pants after romancing the Worli spray - we Bombay
people have always felt a little on the backfoot about our unchanging weather.

But this year’s low temperatures, brought smiles to everyone’s eyes. People are happily saying to each other - it’s cold, na? As is obvious, I don’t know what there is to be happy about in the strange foggy mornings, the bin mausam barsaat, the general shivers. All this from people who bathe with hot water 12 months of the year, in a city where instant geyser ought to be an election symbol!

It’s as if people feel ki only colonisers and ruling peoples like Europeans and Americans have got winter. Closer to winter means closer to power, almost-aristocracy like our sorta Mughal, North Indan bhai and behenlog. Actually, if you ask me, it’s all about the clothes.

Because without winter weather, you cannot convincingly lounge around in blazers, look arty in turtle necks, huddle into pastel woolies as if there is an imaginary snowy background behind you, hai na? Without winter, how to strike the charmingly cute pose currently owned by Alia Bhatt, with our gloved hands around some apple cider and an American vibe surrounding us like a halo?

Without winter, how to casually wear thigh-high boots and burgundy lip gloss when you go to the bhaji market? How to wear stockings under mini-skirts? How to wear leopard print ear-muffs and not look like you are an auto rickshaw driver in December (for they are the only folks who can legitimately wear ear-muffs and do).

How to look like you are not really in Bombay but where you truly belong, in that gloriously fashionable place called Sex and the City? This year’s winter aberration has meant people can legitimately keep up with the Northern Joneses.

Let’s not be confused - people were wearing all these things even when it was not cold. Nowadays, if a young woman comes to meet me for work, chances are I will look like a beach bum, but she will be wearing some supposedly ‘formal’ jacket, which is making not only her, but me sweat.

At Andheri West cafes I see people in boots that I fear will melt their feet off once they are out of the faux winter air conditioning common to these establishments (I now know why!).

The idea that to look cool we must wear clothes that make us feel hot is as mystifying as the sight of heroines wearing chiffon saris in the movie snow - and as persistent. So I’m glad that climate change has given all the aspirational dressers a chance to look normal - and feel it too. Suit up, boot up and take a selfie for proof - because it’s a fleeting season!

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com. The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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