By Pravin Trivedi
The first time I came to know snow was when I was five and my father bought a snow cone made by a seller from a cart in India. (Why you may ask, because that is where I was born) He was holding a chunk of ice with a piece of jute cloth and shaving it on a large blade. It looked dangerous and I kept thinking he might get his hand caught in the blade. He shaped the ice into a sphere and squirted three colors from syrup bottles on it and handed it to me, He told me to eat it quickly before it melted in the 100 degree heat of Indian summer. It was delicious! In India we called it gola. Here in the US, we call it Italian Ice.
After that, I did not think of snow until I was 9 and was attending a Catholic nun's girl school in the Sudan. (Why a girl’s school, nuns and Sudan you may well ask; but that is another story). It was approaching Christmas and the nuns were busy trying to get us all excited about the celebrations. We all joined in; never mind being Hindus in a Moslem country with Italian Catholic nuns for teachers. We were given little cards with pictures of pine trees (that we had never seen in the tropical desert) and had inserted pictures of baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Much as the nuns were trying to convince us about Christianity, we joined the fun. We glued pieces of cotton on the trees representing snow.
But it wasn’t till I was fifteen and moved to London that snow began to mean anything. One winter morning, we woke up to see an inch of white stuff everywhere. London shut down. It only snowed once every three or four years and no one there was prepared to deal with it. We also saw the movie “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Slowly we were getting familiar with snow as we had been with the desert sand storms earlier.
When we emigrated to the US, we got another taste of it in New York as we came down a long stairway in the open with a baby in our hands descending from the PAN AM 747. It was an icy rain, and it took us a long time to get to the terminal by bus (but that is yet another story).
The first real test was next Thanksgiving. It snowed. We were living in an apartment building in Agawam. Eight inches! We decided to take our old Plymouth Valiant car for a drive in the winter wonderland. As we turned into the street, I saw another car coming down the road. I had never driven in snow before and I had received my driving license just four months earlier. Wanting to make sure I do not hit the other car, I turned, perhaps a little too much. The front left fender found a tree and that was the end of that adventure. We had a lot to learn.
The Blizzard of 78 caught us unprepared. My boss and I were to fly to Milwaukee for a meeting at the company headquarters. Since he lived fifty miles away in Connecticut, we thought he could stay over at our house and we would drive out together in the morning to Bradley airport in Hartford. There was no way we were going to do that in the morning! Connecticut declared a State of Emergency and he was stuck with us for two days.
That is New England for you.