This December I will be spending some time in Tokyo and Osaka with my family, two of whom are Nippon-mad and one who still hasn't forgiven Japan for WWII. I would like to see Tokyo, but I am not too excited at the prospect of winter. Just the thought of it makes me want to run to the chest of drawers in the bedroom to count the cashmere sweaters I've been hoarding since June.
I remember reading somewhere that Lee Kuan Yew considered the air-conditioner to be one of mankind's greatest achievements. Supposedly, he had a funny little theory (one among many, it's true) that Chinese Singaporeans, being genetically programmed for the four seasons, are ill-equipped to handle life in the tropics compared to the Malays and Indians. Air-conditioning was therefore essential for us Chinese to reach our current level of financial and political dominance in Singapore's hot, sultry climate.
I like air-conditioning a lot, and I sleep in it every night, but honestly, that theory is bullshit. Maybe I really am built for cooler climes - short, wide-hipped, unnaturally pale - but I like the heat just fine, too. In fact, I'd rather be too warm than too cold. As a child, my grandfather was sent back to China just before the war broke out, and the only thing he ever says when you ask about his war experiences is that it was "too [untranslatable expletive] cold". He got his wind-chilled ass back to Singapore as fast as he could, once the Japanese surrendered.
I spent two years in Melbourne, which has relatively mild winters. The coldest it ever got was around 5 degrees. Even then, I was significantly more depressed, and a little bit stir-crazy. It was just something about the all-encompassing cold - the way it blasted through walls and clothing, especially when our shitty little electric heaters only kept one body part warm at a time. The first year I slept next to a window, and woke to find melting ice dripping onto my bed from a gap between the frame and wall.
As a kid I always wanted to see snow, but now that I'm older I prefer vacations by the beach. Give me a stylish resort - something recommended by Mr and Mrs Smith, maybe - set above white sands, soothed by the sound of crashing waves in the night, blessed with a zen infinity pool and fairy globes of light in the manicured grass and trees. I got my resort chic wardrobe all packed and ready to go.
Instead, I'm grimly writing down thermal wear items to purchase from Uniqlo and ordering a pair of Dr Martens 8-eyes online. I hate being cold. Lee Kuan Yew can sleep soundly in his temperature-controlled cryogenic chamber every night, but I foresee shivering in flannel PJs and looking like a grumpy puffball in woolly layers come December.