Tuesday June 12, 2012
Burn and freeze
By Nithya Sidhhu
The words relating to heat and cold can whip up a whirlwind of meanings.
I DONíT know about you but Iím one person who simply does not love the cold. I donít warm up to it, thatís what I mean. Give me the sun any day and Iíll be a happy woman.
With a genetic predisposition to being on the thinner side, experience has taught me that I am more prone to feel the slightest drop in temperature than my more robust friends or my meatier partner.
The minute I enter an air-conditioned room, I automatically reach out for a long sleeved jacket. If the cold gets to me, I will even start wishing that my feet were encased in a pair of woolen socks.
It is for this reason that I actually dread watching a movie in any cinema that greets me with an icy blast the minute I enter its dark interior. While my seated partner remains cool in his demeanor towards the sub-zero atmosphere, I will be surreptitiously putting on socks and blanketing myself like a Red Indian papoose.
I can still recall with vivid clarity the first trip I made to North India. The year was 1987 and Kashmir was not off limits then to the international tourist.
It was winter time and while the first sight of snow and the brown eyes-pink cheek combination of the native children warmed the very cockles of my heart, the memory of the icy cold sheets of the bed aboard the houseboat on Dal Lake still gives me the shivers.
Of that time, my fondest recollection is still that of sitting around a real fire, endeared by its dancing flames, having my hands cupped around a hot cup of tea and watching the snow fall outside the window. I remember being reluctant to leave the cherished warmth of the glowing embers to embrace the chill of the bedroom.
The first night there, the freezing cold of experiencing winter for the first time in a poorly heated room gave me such a bad night that I actually slept all the way up to the mountain town of Gulmarg the next day. Why? The bus afforded me just the right degree of warmth!
Not even my husband telling me that I had missed some truly spectacular scenery could take way the joy I felt at having boarded a bus that had allowed me the luxury of sleep, cuddled as I was by its enveloping heat.
The funny thing is this. While you just have to lower the thermostat for me to begin craving warmth, I hate the very thought of being under a burning sun.
Have you ever been seared by such a scorching heat that you felt that you could actually burn?
This happened to me once when I was in Perth, when I took a trip to the desert in the suburbs of this Australian town.
I must tell you that being in a desert at that time was also a first for me.
While I had chosen wisely enough to wear a cool, airy white cotton blouse and had taken the trouble to don a huge hat, the stupendous heat not only stunned me with its ferocity Ė itís hot breath also blasted away all careful preparations.
I felt like I had been thrusted down into a furnace and wherever I stood, or whatever shadowed area I sought, wave upon wave of hellish heat kept catching up with me. It was an experience I never forgot!
Since then, I have been to countries both cold and warm. Met people too, both cold and warm. Had experiences too, both cold and warm. As a teacher, I saw much more.
I have overheard someone being told that if he couldnít stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. I have seen the blistering effect of cruel words. I have heard the sobs of a child with an ear burning red from the painful flick of a hot-tempered teacher.
I have witnessed a studentís heart curdled cold by his teacherís sarcasm. I have seen a childís spirit going up in flames and anotherís motivation to learn suffering from first degree burns Ė all due to the fiery torch ignited by a teacherís ruthless words.
I have seen too a student frozen with numbing fear after being summoned by a maniacal teacher ready to unleash a whip on him. Such is the power of a teacherís searing criticism, that I have actually seen children cry out of fear of attending school!
Having seen too much of this type of burning pain, it is no wonder that I myself chose instead to kindle the fire of learning with generosity of spirit and understanding. For many years now, I have practised the art of generating the warmth afforded by kindness and compassion.
Yet, I must confess that nothing I have experienced thus far in my life has prepared me for the state of affairs I am currently undergoing.
Today, a different kind of heat is making its presence felt within my body. Hot flushes. Warm flashes. Blood coursing through my face when I least need it to. Night sweats. Bouts of kicking away the blanket interspersed with bouts of scrambling for them. Insomnia floating in the river of the fifties. Diving estrogen levels. Erratic progesterone patterns. If you havenít guessed it, let me enlighten you.
Yes, Iím talking about peri-menopause and all its attendant Celcius highs and lows. The Fahrenheit swing.
I wish I could say to physiology Ė ďThank you, but no thank youĒ to all these changes but the response from my glands has been lukewarm to say the least.
They have actually decided to leave me out in the cold on this trip and let me fend for myself. There are days when thereís absolutely no fire in me and there are days, Iím just burning up.
Iíve heard thereís a bookout there somewhere called ďRed Hot Mammas!Ē but Iíve yet to get down to finding and reading it.
All I know is this. I may get cold feet just thinking of the years ahead but I must remember that it is a path that has been traversed by many before me.
For now, I can either let nature take its course, opt for herbal alternatives or take the easy way out and jump on the HRT band-wagon.
The fact that canít be changed? Iím past 50. This cold truth must be faced, right?