I wrap a blanket around myself and drag the metal fire holder to the open part of our apartment where there is no roof. I build the fire to heat our bathing water. The landlord’s teenaged children, who often peek under our door to watch us, are surprised that I know how. I ask if this is because they assume a high-class white boy like myself would know such a rural skill. They say it’s because building fires is such unmanly work. I say it is considered very manly to be able to build a strong fire in Canada. They laugh, because that’s stupid.
It’s hard to get out of bed in the winter in Kunri. My Canadian friends laugh at that. But in Canada we live in heated houses with thick insulated walls. In Kunri we live in airy cement blocks. It’s not the force of the cold, it’s how we are set up to deal with it. We put on our sandals before pushing open the bedroom doors. Feet go quickly numb in the winter. And once they’re numb it’s hard to get them feeling right again. Short of a hot shower. But those are hard to come by in Kunri.