Monday, January 27, 2014

This is the story of Snownibal

My exposure to the western world began with Enid Blyton novels. Every Enid Blyton novel set in the winter, had children building snowmen. Sometimes these snowmen even had clues to solving mysteries involving stolen goods and fireworks meant for Guy Fawkes Day. When the children in these novels were not eating scones or stealing pies from the larders for their secret adventures, they were accessorizing the snowmen that they built with hats and scarfs. 

Despite vanquishing the bunny hill at a ski resort, this winter, my tryst with snow didn't feel complete without building a snowman. There was a gaping void in the list of activities I had meant to do the moment I set foot in this country. Making a snowman was that gaping void, for the lack of willing accomplices.

This Saturday, just when I was about to sit down with my Econometrics book, one of my friends suggested that we should build a snowman given the polar vortex seemed to be doing its second round and all that snow was going waste. So intrepid we were, that we trudged through -13 degree celsius to campus just because the snow would be much more pristine on the campus.

Our initial plan was to make this ginormous snowman that would be visible from the entrance of the campus. We hadn’t quite contemplated on prior research before embarking on this endeavor. After all, it was a dumb snowman, and we were two doctoral students with one being a real life brain scientist. Ten minutes in the snow, our flawed methodology and the years of growing up six degrees above the equator started showing up. Our hands were too frozen to consult YouTube from our phones. After multiple strategy sessions and scuttling back into the safety of indoors every 20 minutes, we figured that we could approximate a snowman out of this the huge mound of snow that we had created. Our art started looking more and more like a three layered frosted cake.

After we made the final spherical mass that was the head, we decided he looked snowmanly enough. But the deed wasn’t quite done. The stump of carrot that I had so carefully carried had turned soggy. Our amateur effort in giving the snowman his well deserved nose job, which was along the lines of poking a series of holes wherever possible, caused his face face to disintegrate as if he had been a victim of an acid attack (Life is all about violent imagery, isn't it?) . But a snowman isn't a snowman without the carrot. We finally managed to cement the darned carrot in ( we called it "fixing the deviated septum") and substituted some twigs for eyes.

The fun part about any project is the naming stage. In fact, I believe that the only good part about having pets or even kids is that one gets to name them. I should say that I am terrific with names. I once thought of a series of names for twins that a colleague at work had, that started with Ping and Pong to downright arcane characters from Greek & Indian mythology. After a while, he started taking a different route every time he saw me as I was spewing out names at a rate higher than he could take in, without visibly grimacing. My stuffed elephant is called Ashwathama after his elephantine counterpart in Mahabharata and my pink flamingo, with her frilly wispy skirt, is called "Azhagiya Laila" after the legendary Marilyn Monroesque scene that Ramba pulled off in Ullathai Allitha. My bike in India was called Karuthamma (Black beauty?). My friend calls her stuffed lion, "Singaram, the lion" and therefore a team like ours had a self-inflicted responsibility to come up with a name befitting our art-work.

We came up with three. The snowman was called Santhanagopalan. He also goes by Sheshadri. Since Santhanagopalan implies that he will be spelling his name forever at Starbucks, we decided to call him Snownibal as a salute to the sleepless nights of reading Hannibal Lecter books, though the logical abbreviation would have been Santa. Snownibal was also chosen for Hannibal because of the whole Crossing of the Alps bit and we were sure there must have been lot of snow while doing so. 

Santhanagopalan Andrew Carnegie Sundaram Iyengar (as a hat-tip to all the schools we both attended/attend) would have been perfect but it was too cold to goof around more. In retrospect, it actually abbreviates to SACSI- Sexy indeed, the effect that we were going for.

I can now proudly say that I finally built a snowman. He is quirky and wears his hat at a jaunty angle.

1 comment:

Arun S said...

Scaci makes me feel how cute Olaf looked! :) just kidding.. a worthy endeavour though !!