Sunday, December 12, 2010

The "No Heat Chill" Factor

Note: All temperatures in this post are in Fahrenheit. I realize I should learn to convert but can only do that when it's at or near freezing or blazing hot in India (the former because I've been to school where, even in America, they teach you that zero equals thirty-two, the latter because it makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about with co-workers in the summer). Also, I wrote a little about this a couple weeks ago; obviously it's not getting better.

Having lived my entire life in a climate where it can go weeks without getting above freezing, I shouldn't be cold in India. I see posts on Facebook from friends complaining about below freezing temperatures and snow storms. They talk about the wind chill factor to give some idea on how cold it really feels because as we all know 6 sounds colder than 16. The same phenomenon occurs here, but instead of the "wind chill" factor we have the "no heat chill " factor. I'm not exactly sure how to calculate this completely fabricated concept, but my best estimate would cut an additional twenty to thirty degrees from the thermometer.

I get the irony of being the same person that once complained of the "hair dryer effect" when walking outside a building in the summer now being chilled to the bone by the mere thought of a slight wind when walking home on a 50 degree evening. I expect no sympathy from those in cold weather places, and I completely understand the sentiment they'll have upon reading this: I'm a weather wuss. To put things in perspective, as I type this, I'm bundled up in fleece, drinking coffee, and utilizing the heat from my laptop to keep myself warm. Go ahead, make fun of me. I would do the same. It's 50 degrees.

Part of my warmth issue stems from the fact I refuse to admit it's cold. Basically, I treat every 50 degree day here like the first 50 degree day of the year in Chicago. If you live in a cold weather place, you know what this means, you under dress just a bit because "it's now warm" (note, I'm not one of those people on the first "warm" day that feels the need to pull out shorts). Friday night we went to a party that we knew was going to partially be outside on a patio. I wore a sweater, a light jacket, sat next to an open fire pit, and had a couple warm German gluhweins. I was still cold. Having imported a down jacket for a trek next summer, I found myself wishing I had broken it out for the evening.

One morning this week it was 50 degrees in my adopted home of Gurgaon while it was 13 degrees in my actual home of Lake Zurich, IL. I'd be crazy to say that I prefer the Chicagoland winters over anything experienced here, in fact, I would gladly take 50 degree mornings in Chicago in December. However, as you've probably gathered, Delhi isn't like Chicago. The reason? This time, at least, it's the lack of central heat.

When here during the winter of 2004-2005 I was admittedly confused by the people huddled in the streets, wrapped in blankets, braving the winter chill dressed in their woolens. I was dressed in a plain button down dress shirt, cracking jokes about how they couldn't handle the cold. Of course, I was coming from the comfort of a centrally heated hotel while they, in all likelihood, were not. I now (sort of) understand their plight. Other than my laptop, the primary source of heat in our apartment is space heaters that we were smart enough to buy from our neighbors that moved back to Holland. While we could have bought them in an actual store, I have a feeling that trying to buy space heaters in the winter here is a little like buying a snow shovel in Chicago after a huge winter storm; in other words, think ahead because supply is probably an issue. Regardless, we're lucky enough to have two.

Now that we have the heaters, I don't actually use them. It's one of those things where I worry that we'll use them, get used to the warmth, it will get colder (you know, like 40 degrees), and I will once again be cold. And yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds.

Stay warm, Chicago, and I'll try and do the same. It's more difficult than you'd think.

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't help that if you're like us, you have 100% marble floors in your flat ... and cracks in your doors/windows, and no insulation.

    So I agree with you on taking the cold of say, Omaha, NE or Cleveland, OH (inside) than Delhi, India (inside) during winter ... any day!

    I getcha!