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.