I was brought up in a tiny village, Jhariya, which is located in the middle of the Thar desert in India. In my village, winter means temperatures below 18℃ and summer is when the temperature rises above 35℃. Everything in between is awesome.
But, in 2006, I landed in Edmonton — a place where it gets colder than Mars for a few days every winter. That makes Edmontonians potential candidates for the Mars mission :) Luckily, I arrived in the month of September when Edmonton is colorful and gorgeous with warm, sunny days. Nature does not get any better than this. Though, it didn’t last long.
I woke up one October morning and glanced out the window to find a glistening white sheet over top of everything. This was the first snowfall of my life. It took a few moments for my brain to panoramically observe and process this scenic wonder. I couldn’t resist but to go on the balcony in my bare feet. I grabbed the snow in my hands, examined it closely, felt its brittleness, and threw it in the air. I felt the snowflakes colliding with my face and was left with cold hands. It was an amazing experience. That morning, I left home with the utmost curiosity to see how life works on a snowy day.
For the next few days, I continued on as if my life couldn’t get any better, until one day, the temperature fell below -20 ℃ (which is -4 ℉ for those who are still stuck with the ancient system :) ) and I had a 1.5 km walk back home. This walk completely changed my perception of winter and snow. My face became so cold I lost all sensation and was unable to feel the snowflakes on my skin. Then, I proceeded to experience a weird and unfamiliar kind of pain as the exposure to the cold temperature caused the skin and muscles on my face to rapidly contract. My nasal hair was also frozen and they felt like tiny needles. It didn’t stop there. I had left my gloves at home that day, so my hands froze, became numb, and lost all strength to the point that it took me a few minutes to unlock and open the building door when I finally arrived home.
Incidences like these continued in my life since that first Canadian winter. I went on to experienced an even harsher winter in Fort McMurray, a town 500 km north of Edmonton. And yes, I have a deep sympathy for people who live further north of Fort McMurray, who use ice roads and are isolated from the normal world.
Those six wintery months every year were like being confined in an icy prison, hibernating away from everything, and living with the hope of the snow-free days that the month of May would bring. Everyone lived in constant fear of their cars breaking down on highways, and prayed that it never falls below -40℃ because that will even cause your intraocular fluid to freeze. Walking with multiple layers of clothes that constitutes half of my weight and getting excited when the temperature hits 0℃ was my life during winter. I realized that I had changed from hating 0℃ in India to getting excited about it in Edmonton.
The only thing I am proud of during my winter life is that I never fell on ice :)
After surviving 10 winters in Alberta, I decided to move out of Edmonton to grow my company, LoginRadius. My Canadian city of choice was very obvious — Vancouver, where it rarely snows (and is also close to Silicon Valley). I looked nowhere else, packed my bags, and arrived in Vancouver in May, 2016.
Finally, Vancouver, one of the most livable cities in the world, gave me my first snow-free winter in 10 years. This gorgeous, multi-cultural city rarely gets snow. People don’t need to hibernate, but can live life throughout the year. The city sits right between the mountains and the ocean. For a guy who lived through 10 Alberta winters, Vancouver is simply a dream come true.
I had almost forgotten what a snow-free winter felt like, but now that I’ve experienced it again, I promised myself to never live in such a cold climate ever again, even if I die of hunger. I am done with freezing winters. Yay!