Friday, March 28, 2008

INCOGNITO IN MONTREAL

The weather has improved somewhat. Apart from occasional snow flurries. The sun actually shines. Brightly. Coldly. Piercingly. Attacking the vision from diverse directions – the direct sunlight, the various reflections from the surrounding glass buildings, and most of all the glare from the snow that still covers much of the ground.

Temperatures are around -3 C but the weather report says “feels like -16 C” whatever that means. I guess it stands for wind-chill. The wind like a knife – Jack the Ripper’s, slicing through your guts, blowing your cap off your head, flapping against the overcoat. Pushing you down the road, if you are in the right direction.

I wrap myself up for the walk to office. Last week it used to take me 40 minutes. Now it takes max 20 because the snow has been removed from the sidewalks and I can walk faster, without the risk of landing on my derriere.

I still have to wrap up. The thermals, the sweater, the overcoat, the scarf, the cap. The hood of the overcoat keeps flying off so I’ve got this tight-fitting woolen cap. And the face freezes, so I’ve wrapped my scarf around much of my face, leaving only my nose for the fresh air. The icy fresh air. Then the goggles, to protect myself from the glare. But the icy wind still bothers my eyes and they sting. They begin to water. Arre bhai, someone will think I am weeping. I dab my eyes. The hands freeze, so I put them quickly back into my overcoat pocket and continue walking.

Four Points Hotel to my right – one of those high-rise 5 star ones. This is the very spot where I have slipped and fallen twice. There is no snow today but I am not taking a chance. I wait for the lights, cross over to the other side and continue walking.

I see my reflection in the show-window. Hey, I look as though I am in disguise! Muffled, coated,hooded, unrecognizable. I feel like a gangster in a Bollywood film. Or a gumshoe, a sleuth in disguise, going down those mean streets (hardly mean, Sherbrooke is wide and busy) in search of hoodlums. But, I wonder, do gumshoes and hoodlums have running noses? My nose, which sticks out above the muffler, is frozen and dripping. That is the only uncovered part of me now. Perhaps they have some kind of a nose-cap that would keep it warm. Accessories for Canadian weather. But I haven’t heard of anything like it.

I am seriously thinking of using a hanky to make myself a nose-bag. I have thread-n-needle in my flat. Will stitch it up, hand it around my nose, suspended on my goggles. That would take care of the drip. A nose-bag. This is urgent because if I neglect it the consequences may be dire.

I have spotted many window awnings with icicles hanging from the edges. Stalactites and stalagmites. No, those are forms of sedimentation. What I see now are drops of water – rain and ice – reluctant to let go of the ledge, hardening into icicles. Like wind-chimes, clear, transparent, they would probably riing a chime if I strike them!

But, let me come back to reality! If my nose continues to drip unchecked I am afraid there will soon be an icicle from my nose-tip, too. So, where’s my hanky. And my sewing kit. Let me make myself a nice, comfortable, ingenious nose-bag!

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