Friday, November 19, 2010

The Freezing Point

At work yesterday, someone told me the upcoming weather in Delhi included low temperatures that dipped below freezing. Skeptical, I decided to check the ten day forecast. Thankfully, he was wrong (at least according to the 10-day forecast). The lowest listed temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit, well above the magical mark.

The balmy temperatures not withstanding (it's still typically around 80 here during the days), his comment sparked a little curiousity. Has it ever snowed in Delhi or Gurgaon? What would happen if it did? Based on short research, the closest thing I could find was a morning frost in 2006, which was the first in 70 years.

As a result of this event, weight issues on the power lines caused power cuts across the city and schools were shut down for three days. Slightly more dramatic than the first unexpected frost in Illinois, where the largest victim might be the uncovered flowers in my Mom's garden. Without central heat, it makes a little more sense why such drastic measures are necessary. Based on my short winter in the apartment last year (after living in a hotel with central heat for much of January), I had to admit that 50 degrees in Delhi feels a lot different than 50 degrees in Chicago. While this winter I still probably won't break out the "woolens" quite as regularly as the locals, there will be far fewer sarcastic comments about the thick sweaters and stocking caps in 50 degree weather.

As far as snow goes in Delhi, I'm still not sure it's ever happened. If it does, the two things I'd want to witness would be (1) the locals initial reaction, many of which have probably never seen the white stuff and (2) the traffic.

To stereotype, drivers in the northern U.S. (take me, for instance) and especially those living in mountainous regions consider themselves expert drivers in the snow; whereas, they consider drivers in the warmer southern states to be far inferior when driving in snow and ice based on their exposure to the elements (I'm sure southerners question northerners decision to live in a climate where it's even an issue). Regardless, I can't imagine people that have never seen snow would fare much better than those stereotyped southerners.

Of course, I'm sure the Indian reaction would be much the same: why develop an unneeded skill?

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