1. Its non-existence. Yes, it can get quite chilly in Islamabad, maybe even below freezing — but there is no snow. And if there is one thing being reared on stories of Rudolph and his red nose has taught me, it is that winter means snow.
2. Gas bills. You think you’re being ripped off by Wapda and KESC? Try running a gas heater during winter. If I can be charged Rs4,000 rupees a month for simply cooking two meals on a stove, I shudder to imagine how much of my measly salary will go towards paying heating bills.
3. Apparel inconveniences. It’s cold out on the street so you have to wear a sweater. But central heating has made your office warm and toasty so off comes the sweater. Want to sneak out for a quick smoke? Time to bundle up again.
4. Deadly drivers. I never learned to drive a car so I never get behind the wheel. It’s a simple enough concept but one most Pakistanis refuse to abide by. In summer, they can still get away with it. But with the rain and sleet in winter they go from annoying to life-threatening.
5. Weather forecasters. “We expect it to be cold and miserable tomorrow.” No one ever paid me to state the obvious.
6. The end of sports. Tennis is on hiatus, the golf season has ended and even European football goes on its annual Christmas vacation. All you can do in winter is stay at home and watch TV; unfortunately there’s nothing on.
7. Sickness. Since it’s winter, it’s invariable you will get the flu. There is no cure for the flu, so you just have to wait it out. Well, you could take an ice-cold shower. Then you’d get pneumonia and there is a cure for that. Or you may die.
8. Scarf smell. Many people like to cover their precious noses and mouths with scarves. Soon those scarves are covered with snot and drool. Then we have to smell it as they sit in the cubicle next to us.
9. The music. Even in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we are not spared the blight of Christmas music. Christmas music is to music what TV news is to actual news, a pale, annoying imitation of the real thing.
10. It gets worse. As terrible as winter is — and it is terrible — have you ever spent a summer in Pakistan? The weather just never leaves us alone.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 16th, 2011.
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