I had read and heard about Canada being cold, but cold is an utter understatement! I had imagined it would be cold like Shimla is in India, so it would be a nice relief from the scorching heat of Punjab. But as soon as I stepped out of the airport in Calgary for the first time (in November 2006), I realized how terribly wrong I was! It was crazy, freezing, I-am-gonna-die cold! The jacket and woollen gloves I had packed when I left from India were no good here (Actually, I should not say “no good” - they would be perfect for Canadian summer). On my second day, I went shopping and although my brain was exhausted by the non-stop conversion of dollars to rupees, I successfully bought a real winter jacket, snow boots and gloves. Together these items probably weighed more than me!
The extreme cold was (and still is) my biggest shock after arriving in Canada. I remember saying to my husband “this country is un-inhabitable” during my first days here. I was surprised to hear people saying its plus two today, or plus five today, referring to the temperature in degrees Celsius. In Punjab, the temperature was never negative, so there was no need of specifying the “plus”. I remember schools would close in Punjab when the temperature got close to zero degrees in the winter. If, ever, by rare chance, we got temperature that was a little below zero, it would make headlines. And here, when that happens, people wear shorts and t-shirts and get so excited about how “nice” the day is!
Now, after seven plus years of training to survive this arctic weather, I have adapted to it somewhat. In fact, I find Canadian winter more comfortable indoors than Punjab winter, because all the “indoors” in Canada are heated. I would admit that sometimes the blizzards and snowfall warnings and slippery driving conditions are depressing, and winter seems to be never-ending. But this winter also gives me the joy of tobogganing and making snowmen with my kids. The perfect excuse to escape to the beaches in the Caribbean. And above all, the wisdom to make the most of the short but absolutely beautiful Canadian summer.