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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Harry Potter & the Foreigner Didi

It’s the school summer holidays in India, it’s too hot for the school bus and too hot for algebra. There are two little boys that live next door to my in-laws and they both love playing with Alfonso. I’ve known these kids for nearly two years now, they call me “Lauren didi“. Didi means “elder sister” in Hindi. A couple of months ago the younger boy, who is four years old, must have heard someone refer to me as a foreigner. After knowing him for well over a year, he suddenly called me “foreigner didi“! He scooted towards me on his lime green scooter, with a huge beaming smile on his face, and said, “hello, foreigner didi“. He seemed pretty proud of himself as he zoomed away, leaving me with my jaw dropped.

So, school is out for summer and the boys elder sister, their didi, is visiting Nagpur. She was too scared to play with Alfonso, instead she asked me about the books I like to read.

“Do you like books?”

“I love books!”

“Have you read Harry Potter”

“Yes, I have”

“Have you read all of them?”

“Yes, twice!”

“Me too, I love Harry Potter!”

“Harry Potter is from the same country as I am from!”

“Wooooow, really!”

The little girl’s eyes lit up when I told her that I belonged to the same country as her favourite fictional character. On the other side of the room, playing with Alfonso, the elder of the two little boys was listening to our conversation and seemed very concerned.


“Lauren didi, is Voldemort from your country also?”, the little boy asked.

“Yes, he is! Scary huh?”

He stared at me blankly for a while, frowned, gulped and quickly wiped the horror from his face with a small smile. I can only imagine he was thinking, “woah, I shouldn’t get on the wrong side of Lauren didi then”.


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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…


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!!


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!


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.


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.


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!!


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!