White Christmas in India
When we talk of White Christmas, our thoughts travel to the colder regions where the ground is covered with snow during Christmas. Originally, this term was applied to countries in the northern hemisphere which experienced this phenomenon year after year. Now, it is applied to all situations where you experience snowfall on the Christmas day.
But on the 25th night, when I stepped out of a Christmas party, I realized that it is not only snow that can make a Christmas a White Christmas! Even fog could turn a Christmas into a White Christmas!
The moment I hit the street, I realized that there was thick fog which was growing thicker by the moment. When I switched on the headlights of my car, all I could see was fog! When I went into high beam, the visibility became poorer because it reflected the fog. I cursed myself for not getting a fog light fitted on to my car which I usually do during winters.
The fog was so thick that I could not see anything beyond a couple of feet away. People who were on the street knew where they wanted to go but had no clue of where they were going.
You did not see shadows walking towards you because the visibility was too poor. People, animals, vehicles, trees, buildings—in fact, everything appeared all of a sudden like ghosts out of the white (not blue!) when they came into view.
All you could see was fog, fog and more fog. You might have heard of people groping in the dark. But, I saw people guessing in the white! It made me realize that the whiteness in front of me was no different from the description of darkness in one of Alistair McClean’s novels which said: the only way to locate a tree was to bump into it and to locate a ditch was to fall into it…or something to that effect…
It was a complete whiteout! But, it would be a little far fetched to say that visibility was zero because no matter what you could see or not see, you could always see the fog!
In the dead of night after a great dinner I drove through the streets without knowing which streets I was on. I had the dividers built in the middle of the road to segregate to-and-fro traffic and the white lines marking the lanes on the road to convince me that I was still in the middle of some road.
When everybody was cozily cuddled up in the warmth of their beds, I was out in the cold figuring out where to turn and where not to turn. And, also where to stop and where not to stop and where to drive and where not to drive—all the time praying to god that I don’t bump into someone or something.
In the morning, when the newspapers arrived, I read them carefully. Thank God, there were no reports of any serious accidents. There couldn’t be. Because, in such poor visibility, nobody could have taken the risk of rash driving which is what most of us do after Christmas and New Year celebrations. I felt happy because no 'bad news' is always 'good news.' But, I learnt that the previous day also experienced a similar fog when I was tucked in the warmth of my quilt which is called razai in Hindi.
The good thing about the fog was that I did not have to travel all the way to the northern hemisphere to experience White Christmas—I experienced it right here in Delhi!