REFLECTIONS

The world can be a cold place

Current seasons brings back memories of freezing in school

In Summary

• When it gets cold, seek warmth because cold weather is not fun.

A man walks past the ice-covered Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, in frigid temperatures in Bryant Park in the Manhattan borough of New York City January 8, 2015
RECORD-BREAKING COLD A man walks past the ice-covered Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, in frigid temperatures in Bryant Park in the Manhattan borough of New York City January 8, 2015
Image: REUTERS

It’s cold weather season. Well, actually, it’s been cold for a while; I’m just now getting round to writing about it.

So, cold weather. By now most people have come across the usual and not-so-usual advice on how to keep warm in some magazine article or looked it up on Google. The usual suggestions include: wearing wool, wearing a hat and scarf, and dressing in layers of clothing, which is referred to as layering.

Depending on how cold where you are is, one should layer socks as well. That is, wear more than one pair of socks and then tuck your trousers into the socks. This socks-tucking thing is not a good look, but it does help avoid cold air working its way up your trouser leg.

 

Eating whole grains such as oats, brown rice and millet is recommended, and so too are mild spices like ginger, cinnamon and paprika, as it helps increase your metabolism and heat generation.

The not-so-usual ways to keep warm are switching between hot and cold water in the shower. The hot immediately warms you up and the cold improves blood circulation between your skin and organs.

Another unusual method is to turn on the ceiling fan, if you have one. The reason is warm air rises to the ceiling. So, when you run the fan at slow speed, it pushes the warm air back down to where you are.

The general idea is when it gets cold, seek warmth because cold weather is not fun. I know this because I spent my high school years in a place that got quite cold.

The place was a boarding school in Kiambu, where I was transferred to in a move I can only describe as extraordinary rendition. Like most boarding schools in the countryside, the place had an air of prison about it. It was isolated. You weren’t free to leave the facility, obviously.

Bread was currency, much in the same way cigarettes are in an actual prison. And students operated in cliques, called gangs in prison, to survive. Coincidentally, the school’s site, rumour had it, used to be a prison for Mau Mau fighters back in the Emergency years. And did I mention the place was on a hill? I guess to better see the inmates who tried to escape.

Anyway, this place used to get so frigid during the cold season (being on a hill didn’t help) that sometimes we would go for days without seeing sunlight. Then there was fog, too dense on some mornings you had to put your hand out like a blind person when walking.

 

The food matched the season, cold, and when you showered, with ice water, of course, your fingers got so numb, all sensation lost, you had to ask someone to help you open your locker for you to get your clothes.  

Time spent in that place left me with the impression that the world can be a cold place, literally and metaphorically.

The thing about cold, though, is it makes one appreciate warmth more. The warmth from real friends and warmth from your own self. For just like the rest of your body, your soul and your mind, too, can generate heat from within.