It is early May 2006 and the mercury is merciless. It touched 112 degree Fahrenheit -- 44.5 degree Celsius -- on Friday. I think 118 and the psychological barrier of 120 -- 49 degree -- will be breached in the weeks ahead. Yet people continue to work. Amidst the grime and gunk. Feeble workers go about carrying brick-loads on their delicate heads in ridiculous temperatures. Their unwashed children not far away. Watching their poor parents build roads and overpasses for globalised Indians.
Life is harsh in this part of the world. Not that it doesn't get difficult -- or hot -- elsewhere. In parts of the US, it is hot -- Florida and Hawaii for instance. I think only Las Vegas and Phoenix touch 90 F in July but there is no cause to fret. Developed west has conquered nature long back. Snow or Swelter, rain or heat -- nature is stopped in its tracks. We rate miserably when it comes to giving our populace even basic amenities like power, water, heathcare and infrastructure, despite -- having a nuke -- and stupidly considering ourselves at par!
Nearer home, Gulf is very hot. The African continent is on the boil -- in perpetuity. However, the Arabs are super-rich and hardly a soul ventures out in the sun. The Africans are too well adapted -- because of their color and genetic make-up -- to the blistering sun. That leaves only the blokes in sub-continent to reel. I personally think anything above 100 F is difficult.
India gets sultry in summers. The hot winds singe you in the face. However, the humdrum never stops. Hopes never fade. People continue to work. Fight. Children go to the school. Lovers canoodle. Peasants water their fields. A million mutinies, functioning. Evolving all the time. The show must go on, as they say. There is no heat emergency-- even at 120 F. More than half the population does not have an AC comfort. No probs. Brought up the hard way, Indian's tackle the tacky temperate hands-on. Resilience, mates.
On a more individual note, I was born with an allergy for heat. Bred in the cool zephyrs of Kashmir -- India's honeymooning paradise -- I just cannot take heat. These days I have to make do with the artificial machine chill. Home, Car, Office. I am not in my element, the moment, I step out of it.
Sometimes in the middle of the night -- when there is a power-cut -- I close my eyes and think about Kashmir. Cool, quiet nights with seductive layers of darkness all around. Breeze in the hair. Only the sweet cooing of a small nightingale in the distance.
I keep thinking and thinking about it. Till light comes in the capital city of the fastest growing economy in the world!