Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And so..it snowed

This is probably the only thing that has prevented the rest of this vast land from forgetting the tiny corner of it in which I reside. When it comes to the snow, the shop - helpers in the Target here tell me, Buffalo can give Alaska a run for its money!

I had heard of this when I had left "road-tar meltingly hot" Hyderabad, to attend the University here. But boy was I dissapointed when I got here. The first few days that I spent hunting for a house near my Campus ... walking around the then-unnervingly empty roads of America, it seemed like Hyderabad might have been a shade cooler - you can attribute to the ozone layer getting fucked up or whatever but I find the sunshine in this land glaringly unwelcoming.

And so I was settling down to a routine - like I am wont to - some showers here and there..no big deal really.. when last weekend threw it all off. The only snow I had seen before this was on the far away peaks of the Himalayas, while I gazed at them from the far away foothills of the Shivaliks - in Hrishikesh ( my most favourite place in the world btw.. - I dream of buying a house there and settling down one day).

So..it was an usual rainy - drippy day in Buffalo... I had just finished wrestling with some Thermodynamics (which to my surprise - and to the immense shock of people who know that I burnt my thermodynamics book and tables when my first semester as an undergrad got over - I am getting to enjoy!) and was having a late lunch next to an immense window - and looking at the rain - when to my disbelief, the raindrops seemed to turn solid and start floating around rather aimlessly in the rather stiff breeze. It was snowing in October!!

On my walk to a class right after lunch I was ridden by groans from students all around who were being informed that it had just started snowing. "And so begins a long winter .. well it was a great summer while it lasted!" seemed to sum up the mood. The next one and half hours went by trying to understand Partial Differential Equations.. and when I emerged from the classroom with a few cronies of mine .. it was still snowing! Walking through the snow felt wonderful - by now it was begining to pile on cars and the lawns were begning to look more white than green - more like what we see in movies.

Most of the rest of the day I tried and walked indoors - cos I was wearing , in my immense short sightedness just my trusty jacket. However, I could hear traces of alarm spreading - it was fast turning into an unexpected blizzard.

When I finally emerged for my journey home it was white all over the place - it was a wonderful sight - the wooden benches that sprawl around in the campus could hardly be seen - all that remained where huge mounds of snow. I soon got on the bus that takes me within walking distance of my place. The journey that takes 10 minutes on an usual day took all of 45 minutes. I was begining to get apprehensive about my usual 10 minute walk home.

But no worry. I had finally clamped down on my laziness and finally bought an umbrella from an Indian Shop on campus. With it - I felt - I could face any precipitation the heavens might throw my way. So.... the time came to get off the bus.

The snow was getting really heavy now - on stepping off the bus..my feet landed on what seemed like solid ground - only to sink a few inches down rather unnervingly ..almost bringing me down too..It turned out I was the only one heading home that night - the others having made up their mind to spend the night in the Library. O what the hell - it was just snow - not balls of fire falling from the sky - and of course I had my umbrella. A few steps into the night and the umbrella had too be pulled out .. the snow might look like warm and fuzzy cotton... but too much of it hits your face, and u begin to think of those stories about the guy whose ears just broke of because they were frozen ... or the funkier robo man in Judgement Day breaking into pieces when touched by Liquid Nitrogen.

So.... I pulled my umbrella out and gave it a hearty tug to stretch it out.The thing came out in three pieces . one in each hand and the other depositing itself in the snow... Hmm .. now that was a moment! I tried some assembling techniques out their in the blindingly cold blizzard trying to put the pieces back together - it was now that the Mechanical Engineer that I have sunk 5 years of my life into becoming would end up saving my life - but alas the pieces seemed impossible to have assembled - I wonder if they were ever joined up in the first place !! So.. I decided to leave the other pieces there in the snow - and use the only important part really, the cloth part - never knew an umbrella could be divided into head thorax and abdomen - but i guess this would be the head - to protect the face and start waling on the road.

Only - there was no road - all around me was a blanket of snow - a pure white blanket - it really was beautiful. The trees were splitting all around and apparently some of them had hit an electric cable somewhere - because the only light around was the curious - quite divine looking glow coming off the snow - the little light available reflected several times over.

And so I began my long trudge back home - through the blizzard - and through it I allowed myslef the indulgence of fulfilling one of my childhood dreams - though it was strictly an indulgence. Tintin in Tibet was the first book I read - and had my Dad read it to me before I could even read - and there is a part when Tintin and snowy are walking through a raging blizzard in the Himalayas, looking for Captain Haddock - I ve always wanted to be there - and now - finally - I was. Wading through a knee high blanket of snow with trees snapping around in the wind you and snow coming down in the innocent looking way that it does - depositing on my hair and my eyelashes - with a broken umbrella to protect my face - it was wonderful!!

It was one of those things that you hear so much about - and think that "What the hell .. It can never be that good..". This is one of the things that was - those of you who have seen the Taj Mahal in flesh will be familiar with the feeling.

Of course what followed was weekend of havoc - power outages, food shortages ,no heating ... and basement getting flooded with icy cold water - but that is not really what it is about.