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Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Snowfall in Chicago

I have been visiting USA quite often nowadays in the last several years. My children are working here. However, I have never experienced the snowfall so far in USA and I have been longing for this experience for quite a long time. This year, we decided to travel during winter in USA so that we can experience the snowfall. I have seen snowfall in movies and I have watched them with great interest and fun, everyone playing around when it snows. So, right from the time we landed in Chicago in USA, I was building up my expectations and excitement about having a fun time when it snows here and I was talking about this to everyone. Yes, finally on 30th Nov, 06 the weather forecast predicted considerable snowfall during the later part of the day. I was beginning to be ecstatic and anxiously anticipating the snowfall.

In the morning we had a brisk walk to a nearby market hoping that it could snow when we were out. No, it did not happen that way. We came back disappointed. At home, from time to time, I was looking through the windows to find out whether it was snowing. No, the weather was playing hide and seek game with us throughout the day. I was becoming frustrated and tension was mounting. I know that weather reports in USA cannot falter and generally they are accurate. In fact, one of the first things people do here in the morning is to watch the weather reports in their TV and this is a regular ritual for most in USA. It became dark in the evening – as it approaches winter here, the sunlight fades at around 4 to 4.30 in the evening and it is pretty dark by 5 PM. My excitement was growing and so too my frustration. It was night. No, nothing happened.

But for sure, I was able to smell the snowfall coming through anytime. Anticipation and excitement were growing for me from moment to moment.

At last, at around 12 in the midnight, when I looked through the blinds on the window, I could see snow falling slowly and steadily. I saw snow slowly covering the pavements, the small trees around, the cars parked over there. I immediately took out my video camera, stepped out on the small balcony we had at the house and shot the pictures. The weather outside was not cold. People have told me that when it actually snows, it will not be very cold. I stood outside for sometime. I took lot of cool air and I could feel the cold air traveling down through my nostrils into my lungs and I could feel the air I was exhaling hot. Smoke came out of my nose as I was breathing. I could feel myself totally immersing in the cold wind and the snow that was falling and spraying everywhere. Not wanting to be affected by cold standing outside, I went to bed reluctantly. I did not want to be separated from the snowfall experience.

Soon, I was taken over by sleep only to find that I woke up too soon at around 4.30 in the morning. I rushed to my windows, peeped through, only to find that snowfall was intense now, falling more heavily. I was seeing the snow scattering all over, carried by the cold wind. It was really a very enjoyable and memorable experience.

Not wanting to go back to sleep, I just lied down in the couch in the hall. When my wife woke me up at around 7 am, I again rushed to the windows. By this time, I saw the snowfall has grown to almost one foot on the ground. Even our balcony was covered with two inches snow. I took pictures again. I wanted to step out of the house and wander around, on the snow, excitement further growing.

Even as I was getting prepared, then I was seeing our neighbors, one after another, trying to take out their cars from their parking lots. There was no covered car parking and so, all cars were more or less fully covered by snow. By this time, I noticed that the snow was becoming hard, getting settled on to the ground like a rock. One of the neighbors was using the shovel and was removing the snow so that he can take out the car. I do not know whether he found it funny to be standing out and clearing the snow. Normally, it is the job of the apartment leasing office to arrange for the clearance of the snow on pathways so that minimum movements can be maintained. However, I saw no one doing this that early on this day. Another couple in the neighborhood was unsuccessfully trying to maneuver their car out of their parking lot even as another couple was trying to remove the fallen snow from the exterior of their car with the help of brushes and scrapers. I found a few others, not even wanting to step out of their house and not wanting to take the botherations of removing their vehicles that were irregularly parked due to their failed attempts in taking out their vehicle from their parking lots. I saw another African American successfully driving out his vehicle after his mammoth efforts with shovels in removing the snow.

Now, we were outside our house on the ground below along with our son who was trying to take out his car. I did not find it very cold and it was bearable, though I knew sooner or later, my hands will freeze. My wife too joined me on the snow. We took lots of pictures in our camera. The car gave in initially from the parking lot, only to get stuck after a few yards. The wheels were rolling, but not the vehicle. We borrowed the shovel from the neighbor and worked hard to remove the snow on the pathway. My son was not able to take out his car any further and it was deeply stuck in the snow.

At least my wife and me were enjoying the snow, the cold outside, as this was a play and fun for us. But I could see frustration building up for my son as he was not able to remove the car further and now, in all probability he cannot attend his office unless he decides to call a taxi. You will never know when and if the taxi arrives to take you to the office.

At least, one neighbor took the snowfall casually commenting, 'is it not a nice weather?'

Now at around, 10.30 AM, I see the snow fall still continuing to more than a foot of snow. I see most of the cars in the neighborhood not taken out at all. I was wondering what they would be doing at home.

Sitting by the window, and typing out this experience of witnessing a snow fall alive, and enjoying the scenery outside where everything is amazingly white, peaceful, quiet, calm I was wondering whether everyone feels the same way as I am. I had always like white color.

What was happening outside is the same to everyone around, but how we experience it, could be different for each depending on how we take it. I remembered my daughter's one of her earlier comments, 'Dad, you might be excited about the snow fall as long as it takes place on the movie screen. But when you live here with the snow, you must see the frustration in everyone. The life for many people suddenly slows down and for some at stand still. The day suddenly moves dramatically slowly as though the clock does not want to tick anymore.'

Yes, probably this is the experience of many.

I realized once again that what is a pleasure for me, need not be so for others and there is no universal phenomenon that uniformly brings pleasure or pain to everyone alike.

1st Dec,2006Chicago, USA


  1. Nice reading your experiences of first snow fall. I too had experienced snow fall in japan when I was there in 1980. What attracted me more was the whiteness and the softness of the snow. I went for skying and it was real fun trying to learn to sky and fall amny times. Only at the end od the day I had a slight sprain in the leg. Nothing serious. But I agree that it may not be fun if you have to go out to office by taking out your own car. I remember that people in japan had chains tied to their tires so that there will be grip. But what I hate is the frozen ice which is so slippery htat it is very dangerous. I experienced that in Detroit in December 1986 for one month from christmas. Walking on the road when the snow has turned into ice is realy asking for trouble.

    Hey Neel did you contact my son.

    Alwan S

  2. The elaboration on the first snowfall was great!! The lovely scenery photos have made the write-up all the more charming, helping one in visualizing your experience. So can imagine why you were so excited!!!!!