Monday, 15 April 2013

Summer Solutions

It is the height of summer in India. It hit 40° today. That's 104° F in Americanese. The kind of heat that drains you, weakens you, takes away your appetite, and shortens your temper. The kind of heat that makes 5 pm feel like noon. We don't have an air conditioner. If it's hot outside, it's hot inside. Not as hot as the slum-dwellers with their tin roofs, but still pretty hot.

Our philosophy for the summer is: just wait it out. Of course my dad loved to say things like, "It's all in the mind! You're only hot because you think you're hot. Think cool!" especially when we were kids complaining about the heat. You can imagine how much THAT cooled us down.

These are some of our other summer solutions:

Drink a lot, eat a little. This summer Tang has become our new favourite drink, thanks to a sale at the local supermarket. But my mother wins our hearts every summer with the cool concoctions she comes up with. Panna, a sweet and sour drink made from raw mango pulp, boiled with sugar, cooled and mixed with milk.
Lassi is curd (yogurt) mixed with sugar and ice.
Limboo-pani is lime juice. Or literally, lime-water.

Shut out the heat. As soon as it's close to noon, we shut all the windows, draw the curtains and wait for the house to cool down a little. You wouldn't have thought that shutting air out would make a house cooler, but when the air is scorching, hot air....

Wet the curtains.When I was younger and more energetic, I would get mugs of water from the bathroom and douse the curtains, hoping that the water evaporating would cool the room down. It did, a little.

When it got really bad, we would even sprinkle our beds with water. Or sponge ourselves with wet cloths. We'd cool down for a few minutes until the water evaporated.

My sister occasionally would brave the mosquitoes, and sleep in the balcony, where it was a little cooler. Heat versus mosquitoes seems to be a recurrent theme in my life. Or she would sleep on the tile floors, which really are cooler than our beds.

By May, we've had enough. We take off for the hills, spending a couple of weeks at a little cottage perched on a cliff, owned by my great-uncle. It is cool there, and you almost forget the heat of the city.

By the time we get back, we just have to wait a few more weeks before the welcome, sweet rain of the monsoons descends and washes the dust and heat away.

Oh, India.

1 comment:

  1. Every time I'm asked what I remember the most about India I always say it's the dust... but not in a bad way. I remember the colour of the earth, with the dry dust on top, being colours that I have never seen in the West. And then I remember that dust being washed away by the monsoons, and completely new smells, colours and and a new feeling coming on.