India’s Heat wave

Britain starts screaming ‘heat wave’ as soon as the temperature rises over twenty-five degrees celsius. If the sun decides to grace Britain with its presence, hysteria ensues, it really is a wonderful feeling. People try to get as much sun as possible, spending their days  lying in their gardens or on the nearest seaside, hoping to get a beautiful golden tan. Picnics, camping, ice cream vans, music festivals and paddling pools. Summer in England is an exciting time, which is understandable as the weather during the rest of the year is pretty persistently miserable.

Summer in India, however, is dangerous and brutal.  I can see only two advantages of an Indian summer; the mangoes are delicious and the mosquitoes are dead. A strong sun gives summer’s seasonal fruit its exquisite taste, and I can confirm the mangoes and lychees this summer have been superb.  The break from mosquito bites and the best fruit of the year fades into insignificance when you read that over one thousand people have lost their lives as a result of this heat wave. Devastating and understandable, I cannot put into words how hot it is here in India.

Nagpur is famous for its harsh summers. When I am not in Nagpur and I tell someone where I live, either they have never heard of the place or the first thing that comes to their minds is how awful Nagpurian summers are, followed by advice and extreme caution! Thankfully, Mr. Breeze the water cooler has worked well in Nagpur’s dry heat. Nevertheless, most days I get through about sixty ice cubes and have several showers (with boiling hot water because the pipes are blistering hot, but even then it’s better than nothing). It’s been a nightmare and it’s been distressing but I am lucky, I have a home and a cooler.

When I look out of my window I can see a small nomadic community, they keep goats and they have made simple tents out of sticks and plastic sheets. They have no plumbing, no electricity and the temperature has hit forty-eight degrees celsius this month. I assume they have some methods to keep cool but we simply cannot imagine how this heat wave has been for them.

A couple of days ago, there was a blissful pre-monsoon shower. A five minute downpour of cool and refreshing rain, a small taster of what is to come in the next couple of weeks. I ran outside to my terrace and danced in the rain, singing “I am Woman” at the top of my lungs as Alfonso stood at the doorway looking very confused. Why that song? I don’t know, but it seemed appropriate for that moment of liberation from the heat. I felt so much happiness singing (some may say I was shrieking, I cannot sing very well) and dancing. That happiness overflowed when I looked across to the nomadic community and saw the children were also dancing in the rain, the only way children can, with pure joy. 

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54 thoughts on “India’s Heat wave

  1. Yikes! I was reading about the heat wave and I can’t imagine that type of extended heat. And hot water from your tap because the pipes have overheated. Come soon monsoon! That’s a great way to celebrate for both you and your neighbors. 😀 And I think voices sound best in a shower of any kind.

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  2. Oh I remember indian heat it is unlike anywhere else! Thats what makes monsoon so wonderful! And joyous. Monsoon is not just a word it is an emotion! A feeling of pure excitment because the suffering is over. Hope you stay cool!

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  3. Take care, Lauren. It sounds terrible!! I feel for the people and you. It was on the news about people dying and with heat stroke in hospital. Try to keep cool and hope the monsoon comes soon!

    I am having a kind of hard time myself. Stopped one heavy duty meditation for Bipolar and having to adjust to lots more anxiety and depression.

    But you sound so much happier now that you have your own apartment. Very glad for you.

    Love,
    Ellen

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  4. The heat thing reminds of an incident a few days back here in Belgrade. The temperature soured up to about 30 degrees C and it went quite a hot here. I boarded a bus from a station, and made myself comfortable, standing in one corner, since the bus was crowded. But then the bus was not leaving the station. This was soon followed by somewhat commotion, some yellings mixed with sounds of fists pounding over the window glasses, the passengers were furious, pouring out choicest serbian slang, and i realized the bus has no intention of moving though several minutes had passed by. Several people left their seats and moved towards the drivers cabin, demanding what was the matter. In the standing bus the heat and moist was more pronounced, making them visibly more irritated and in discomfort. While all this was happening first i thought let me grab a seat which some angry passengers left, then thought may be it was futile. In this confusion, I got down the bus and saw the driver standing near the front door , clearly very disturbed and puffing cigarette feverishly, surrounded by a bunch of passengers demanding an answer from him, some were asking for return money for their ticket. He waved his hand asking them to get lost. Seeing this, I followed a few passengers who had decided to walk towards home, and walking in this heat of about 30 degrees i was huffing puffing for breath and as i was about to reach my station, I saw this route number 26 with the same driver, sitting hunched on his seat, slowly coming over. UUUFFF!! I thought, shouldn’t have hurried and got carried away with the other passengers, i should have been patient, waited for another bus rather than walking so much in this heat of 30 degrees C in Belgrade. Anyways! learnt a lesson, even if the hard way.

    Heat can kill, yeah, clear from the news, more than thousand people have lost their lives to this.

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    • Oh dear, how annoying Rosy!
      I cannot even imagine travelling on Indian buses during the 48oC… and I see people that do!
      I hope you are well, thank you for sharing this story with us xx

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  5. Ya this year seems very hot in India. Be careful with food as well Avoid fast food , Outside spicy food in summer (best in winter). It leads acidity and stomach problems in summer .Drinking lots of cold water is good.

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  6. I live in India but luckily this part of the country is much cooler (at least for now).. Temp is max 34 to 35 degrees but still it’s too much for me…
    Every year the temperature reaches a new insane level yet we neglect deforestation.. A time will come when we will boil water by just keeping it out in the sun.
    All the best.. May we b blessed with monsoon real soon. Take care

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  7. Lauren, your cool and stay cool attitude will certainly help you deal with the heat; don’t know people work or live in the direct sun without electric power in this intense summer. Am glad the people camped out in the streets are surviving somehow.

    Some places in US are also hot or perhaps even hotter than Nagpur, but they have air conditioners in their homes/offices/cars/etc. In Phoenix, Arizona, sometimes the planes cannot take off due to intense July heat!

    Many who who enjoy mild summers, usually suffer in the cold winters; walking/driving in snow storms or on icy roads is no picnic. So we may as well live with the reality and look forward to better weather ahead.

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    • Thank you so much, Shobha!
      I have heard that some places in the US reach 50oC- madness!!!
      There must be a country somewhere that has no extremes lol

      I hope you are well, take care x

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  8. Yesterday I had a phone call from my dad: “I’ve heard people in India are dying from heat. Are you and the kids ok?” Yes, we’re fine, but monsoon is more than welcome, I can’t wait. I think all of us are going to sing and dance with the first drops of rain 🙂

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  9. I always wonder how people without any shelter deal with a harsh climate. At least in summers one can see people hanging water pots for birds outside their homes. Rarely does that humility extend beyond that.
    But it is nice to see people happy despite the difficulty they face every day. Similar pictures came to mind- slum children dancing in heavy Mumbai rains while their richer counterparts cringing about the same. I think this is peculiar of India.

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  10. Hi,

    Same here in Chennai. Summer in Chennai is very hard too. And humidity makes it worse. Coolers fails in Chennai. The only option is A/C. Unfortunately I don’t have A/C. But luckily, for one day few dark clouds reduced temperature and humidity. But I know, its temporary. It is going to increase again for one more month. I feel if anyone can survive May and June in Chennai, he/she can survive anywhere.

    Hope you are good. I know Nagpur is hard too. Its my mothers native place and been there in summers. Take care.

    Shailesh Kulkarni

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  11. Yup great mangoes & dead mosquitoes!

    BTW – am sure you’ve figured out the bucket trick by now… as water tanks boil under the summer sun, always helps to have a big tub filled with water that remains indoors at ‘room temperature’. Then just grab a bucket full for all of your daily water needs – especially your bath – much better than being scorched from the taps! 😉

    Even tho Mumbai isn’t as hot its that energy sapping slo mo humidity time of year… I’m looking forward to hopping on a plane to Singapore this week!

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  12. @Lauren

    I have a suggestion to make. Why don’t you go to some cool places in north india Shimla, Kasuali, Kullu. Manali, Kashmir. You can also go to Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu & Kashmir. It is a very famous shrine of goddess durga. What Tirupati is to south india, Vaishno Devi is to north india.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaishno_Devi

    It is part trekking and part devotional journey. You have to walk up a mountain to reach the shrine. The entire place is filled with shops, little temples and other amenities due to which you will not feel inconvenienced. After reaching the shine and the darshan, you have to reach another temple which is two kilometers further up the mountain. There are ofcourse ponies for people who cannot walk. But you guys are young and I am sure you will find it very interesting. Young people generally enjoy the trekking part. Hundreds of people are seen moving up and down the mountain. It is like a fair. Many young couples go to this shrine after marriage to seek blessings. You will find cool climate on the top of the mountain even during summers. I am sure your husband has also heard about the shrine. It has cult status in north india. I am sure you will enjoy the experience

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    • Hey Friend,
      My friend just made this pilgrimage after her marriage, she said it was wonderful!! We are considering doing something like this for next summer!!

      I hope you are well!!

      Take care,

      Lauren

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  13. Namaste, Lauren! I’m an American and my husband is Nepalese. Even though Nepal is a different country, the culture is similar and I can relate to a lot of things that you mention. I just want to convey my good wishes to you and your husband. I admire your making a new life there and adapting to a different culture. i know its not easy but I also know firsthand that most South Asian people are very generous and family-oriented. They really care about their loved ones and mostly they appreciate people who genuinely try to respect and their culture. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I hope it will help increase understanding between the cultures. Best of luck to you!

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  14. OMG the heat!!!! It must be just nuts. I am glad neither myself or my inlaws are there, I have had so many readers asking me if I am surviving the heat wave. Luckily we are here and my inlaws are visiting my SIL in Europe. I am sure the pollution just makes the heat worse! Stay cool xoxo

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  15. I recently chanced upon your blob, when I was searching the wed for kumkum, as I learnt that the commercial variety is full of chemicals. I ended up reading all your posts. Absorbing stuff. I am surprised though that you have not written about the orange burfi of Nagpur

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  16. @ Lauren

    You should try bel fruit juice which is also known as wood apple. Bel is the fruit offered to Lord Shiva. It is one of the most important offerings to Lord Shiva on Shivaratri. Its juice is said to have miraculous affect in heat stroke and cools the body and also has medicinal properties more like blessing of Lord Shiva

    This another refreshing drink from berries called Phalse from my childhood. You can find it in the market

    http://health.wikinut.com/The-Health-Benefits-Of-Phalsa-Or-Falsa-A-Summer-Fruit-Of-India/3jrzz5pf/

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  17. Hi Lauren. I notice you don’t post blogs as often as before. Is it because you are writing your book?

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    • Dear Nicola!
      I am writing it, slowly but surely!
      I am trying to get back to blogging on a regular basis, I do enjoy it so much but it can be hard work.
      I hope you are well!

      Take care!

      Lauren xx

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  18. Hey lauren didi saw ur blog and its really nice to know dat ur enjoying here i am myself an maharashtrian from mumbai and about the heat wave really glad its gone hope u r enjoying monsoon

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  19. I love English summers, because they are exactly how I like them: some sun in between, cloudy, not too hot, not too cold. I miss Bath…lol

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