I pride myself on taking a cold shower in the mornings which I believe does wonders. Many shudder at the very thought of immersing oneself in cold water after leaving their warm bed.

My daily routine resonates with a study of 3,000 participants in the Netherlands, people who took a daily cold shower were off work with self-reported sickness 29pc less than their counterparts. It helps me recharge boost my mood and look forward to a rewarding day ahead.

It needs some getting used to. Anyone watching the BBC programme Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof may be starting to wonder whether there is power in the cold shower. Hof who set a Guinness World Record for swimming under ice, says that a “cold shower a day keeps the doctor away” by decreasing stress and increasing energy levels. He challenges participants to start with 30 seconds and move on to 12 minutes of cold shower exposure.

The habit may be hard to develop this season as Addis Abeba experiences its version of chilly mornings and evenings. While not as severe as in some parts of the world, it prompts an adjustment to the changing weather patterns for a city accustomed to a moderate climate throughout the year.

The season serves as a reminder that even in the heart of Ethiopia, nature has its way of testing resilience. In a city where the sun often reigns supreme, the cold season introduces a different rhythm. Mornings dawn with a crispness in the air and evenings carry a whisper of chill. Warmer layers are unpacked while the cityscape takes on a different hue.

With cold spells making their presence felt, the city embarks on its yearly dance with changing temperatures. Meanwhile, the residents adapt to the colder climate, drawing on both traditional wisdom and contemporary solutions. Homemade remedies, innovative recipes and the comfort of warm teas take centre stage.

I remember my mother used to rub liquid glycerine on the rashes of my hands before setting off to school in the cold spells that seemed quite vindictive this season. Having a spoonful of honey was commonly believed to reduce the head-splitting cough coupled with the handmade woollen sweaters that fended off the spiteful winds.

The threshold for warmth drops with the city collectively seeking solace in the steam rising from mugs. The aromatic embrace of teas laced with ginger and mint becomes a form of comfort. From minestrone soup in a renowned Chinese restaurant to the infamous Devil's Soup, the city's culinary tapestry shifts to accommodate.

In the twilight hours when the cold bites a little sharper, we need to remember those who may not have the luxury of warmth. From the bustling city centre to the quieter outskirts, compassion becomes a rallying cry to ensure that no one is left out in the cold. It is a reminder to extend kindness to the less fortunate, especially those facing the harsh realities of the cold night.

It is important to provide community support and collective care much like how the community came together during the pandemic times until a collective exhale echoed worldwide, marking the end of a monstrous calamity that had wreaked havoc for an agonizing couple of years. As the world gingerly stepped into the post-pandemic era, it was time to take stock of the profound costs incurred, transcending numbers and statistics.

The unprecedented impact of the pandemic affected us all. It was an uninvited guest that overstayed its welcome while reshaping the fabric of our lives. From the stringent limitations on travel to the heart-wrenching struggles of businesses and the surreal challenges of mourning the departed, the world collectively bore witness to a disruption unparalleled in modern times.

While spared of the harshest restrictions, Addis Abeba was not exempt from the ripple effects of the pandemic. Businesses closed their doors and lives underwent unexpected transformations. Amid this global upheaval, the resilience of its residents emerged as a beacon of hope. Although it was slowed down, life continued to pulse through its veins, adapting to the new normal while preserving the spirit that defines this vibrant capital.

While the pandemic might be officially relegated to the annals of history, its echoes persist. Respiratory illnesses linger and the sight of people wearing masks in public spaces endures, not just for the fear of the flu but as a shield against the myriad pollutants that urban life throws our way. The cityscape is punctuated by these silent reminders, telling tales of an era that altered the very essence of our existence.

In coffee shops and markets, the ubiquitous mask has become a symbol of caution and solidarity. It is a reminder that the battle against an invisible foe left scars, both seen and unseen. The lingering effects of the pandemic manifest not just in the physical health of individuals but in the collective psyche of a community that weathered the storm together.

Personal habits are born out of necessity or a curious mix of caution and innovation. As the world reopens, the challenge is to discern which of these practices were fleeting necessities and which are here to stay. I was one of those who found wearing masks distasteful. I did not think twice to throw it away as soon as the mandatory regulations were lifted. However, I had other obsessions that took a while to relinquish.

A portable pocket-size thermometer that I bought to avoid cross-contamination by shared use still exists though it has outlived its purpose. I also purchased an ultraviolet light sanitiser box which scans with vocal and a timer that shows progress. Those choices were unpopular at my house with the family perceiving me as taking the precautions a little too far.

In the quiet corner of my home, the hum of the UV light sanitiser box serves as a testament to the lengths we went to protect ourselves. While the world may have moved on, these devices stand as silent guardians, a reflection of the diligence with which we adapted to the uncertainty that defined the pandemic era.

This season, Addis Abeba is undergoing a metamorphosis, much like the rest of the world. Emerging from the shadow of a global crisis, the city is now tasked with braving the challenges of a changing season.

As we navigate this juncture, let us not forget the lessons learned during the pandemic— resilience, adaptation and the enduring power of compassion. As a phoenix rises from the ashes, there is a city ready to script the next chapter in its vibrant tale. The metamorphosis continues coupled with the cold season, the city's heartbeat resounds with the promise of renewal and shared warmth.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 23,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1234]

Bereket Balcha works in the aviation industry and is passionate about fiction writing and can be reached at (bbalcha5@yahoo.com)

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