Heat and Dust
April 20, 2009
Summers in Jaipur are merciless.
To survive under heat-duress, a few minor adjustments are necessary.
First of all, of course, there is the miraculous, over-priced and ever-humming air-conditioning. As much as I hate the sight and noise of these, they are essential. They keep us alive, especially at night, when the heat populates your sleep with angry arctic creatures.
Then, because you can’t spend your day in a refrigerated environment, you learn how to dress for the sweat. That’s where going native comes in handy.
You learn to appreciate your body temperature. Because everything around you is hotter. Including the bedsheets.
I have five showers a day – so much for the eco-warrior in me. They don’t make much of a difference, but it’s psychological.
There is a proverb in Rajasthan that says something like “in the summer, even the dust rises to welcome you”. And indeed, there is dust, thick, immobile, all-pervasive dust: everywhere. It creeps into the house through every millimeter, storms in in a split second and gives everyone, everything, the sleepy look of a Saharan nomad.
Couples fight, servants disappear, children whine and parks are deserted: in a hush, summer has descended.
There are, however, a few good sides to the sweltering heat.
The first and foremost is: mangoes. I could live on a mango-diet. Crates and crates of these sunset-colored delights are my idea of heaven. They come with the heat and go before the rains.
Then there is swimming. Early morning swims in the summer are pure bliss. There is nobody in the hotels, courtesy the heat. Only the peacocks keep me company, sashaying around the pool while I do my laps.
Because, yes, Jaipur is empty during the summer, and yes, I thoroughly enjoy it. We have the city to ourselves, it’s a time to catch up with places we have surrendered to tourists during the long bitter winter months.
The Gods have gone to sleep too, after Holi, so there are but very few weddings – no traffic jams, no blaring music, no party frenzy.
I love the summer in India. It’s a tough season, but strange and slow and calm. No, the real killer is the monsoon: it’s just as hot, but damp and dull.
Give me heat and dust.