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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I love Indian Rain!

Coming from England, I know a lot about rain. It rains so much in the U.K., and it’s usually a miserable, bitter and cold type of rain which strings your face. Dreary, I think that is a good way to describe English rain.

Indian rain on the other hand, there are not many things on Earth which are more delicious to the senses than Indian rain! It’s spectacular and dramatic, fierce and romantic, refreshing and warm. During a storm, I love to open all the windows, watch the lightning shatter the sky and feel the thunder shake my body.

Summer is coming to Nagpur and the nights are getting stuffy and the sun is getting heavier. I waited until five o’clock to take Alfonso for his afternoon walk  today, avoiding the height of the heat. As I stepped out of the building, I saw the clouds had turned grey and could hear thunder in the distance. “I hope it rains”, I said to Alfonso. Several breaths later, the grey clouds broke and large round drops fell on to the dusty road.

If I were in England, I would turn back and go home, but this is India. Rain is exciting! Thunder rumbled forward, a lightning flash filled the sky, the playful screams of children running for cover, the rain falling steadily. The deep smell of the dry Earth cooling, the warm rain touching my face, the air full of electricity. I love Indian rain, I chose the perfect moment to leave the apartment, I love today.

Alfonso wasn’t such a fan of Indian rain, he didn’t find it romantic at all. He pulled me back towards our building, so we went home…

I’m dreading the blistering summer Nagpur is famous for and starting to brew, I’m already dreaming of that first monsoon rain which marks the end of those harsh summer months (the only down side to Indian rain is, it brings those pesky mosquitoes!). I thought that little storm, which only lasted a couple of minutes, was beautiful. Alfonso, not impressed.

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Power Cut Diaries

Load shedding, rolling blackouts, planned power cuts… what ever you wish to call them, they are inconvenient and in the heat, distressing. They happen here on a Wednesday, the day the factories have a holiday. The power is switched off and if you don’t have a generator (like us), you have to just sit and wait until it comes back. 

I remember having power cuts as a child, very rarely, but if it was after the sun went down it was exciting. Lighting candles throughout the house and looking outside to see the other dark houses, sometimes people would gather in the street. During the Indian summer however, power cuts are not exciting, not one bit. Yesterday, the power went out in two hour intervals which allowed me to cool down but last Wednesday, the power was out for five and a half hours straight…

10:00 

The fan just stopped, leaving me in an uncomfortable silence. I live with the fan on (day and night) and have become accustomed to its whirling, without the constant  soft drone, I notice that the clock on the wall ticks ridiculously loudly. It has taken me about thirty seconds to become too hot. Both my laptop and my phone are drained of power and I have nearly finished my book. Hurry up electricity!!

11:15

I’ve finished reading my book, but because of the heat I am feeling drowsy. I am not really sure what happened at the end of the story, I will have to reread the last couple of chapters once the power comes back (The Devil and Miss Prym, Paulo Coelho). It has to come back soon. I have had to cover Alfonso with water to keep him cool, he looks really fed up and doesn’t want to play. Not sure whether it’s because I have covered him in water or because of the heat but he is grumpy!

12:40

I fell asleep in a hot haze, waking up I feel so sticky, strange and disorientated. What did people do before coolers and fans? When I look out of my bedroom window, I can see homes which still don’t have either. How do they cope with this heat? I feel so drowsy and light headed, please come back electricity, I will never take you for granted ever again…

I think it is best I have another shower to cool off.

13:00

The water from the cold tap was boiling hot, either the electricity or the rains need to come now! I’ve made a fan from folded newspaper, I remember making these at school when I was about ten or eleven. I didn’t have much use for this skill in England, glad I remembered it (it’s just folding a piece of paper lots of times, quite simple). I fan both Alfonso and myself, I should maybe start exercising more, it only took a couple of minutes before my arm started to really ache.

14:20

The ticking clock is really annoying me now, it is so loud! I have considered taking it down and taking out the batteries but then I won’t know the time (both the laptop and my phone have no battery) and I don’t think I have the energy to do it anyway.

I am going to have to go to sleep again, this heat is exhausting and I think I have just seen a mirage!!

15:30

I have just been woken up by the air conditioning unit beeping, the fan slowly starts to twirl once more. Finally, bliss.

Power Cut Diaries, On Sad Pug Puppy!

Load shedding makes me sad

Whilst writing this post, the power went out again…

It’s not just Wednesdays after all!