Delhi ki garmi

Summer has arrived in Delhi. Now let me get something out of the way first. Summer in Delhi is not pretty. Its like that senile relative of yours that you have to bear in your home once in a while so you resign yourself to his or her presence. In fact, this year that summer has arrived late I have heard people wishing it never came.

But it is here, the sun bakes down the whole place, it seems the moisture from your very pores is being taken away. Delhi and its adjoining areas were earlier protected from the life-sucking winds of the desert of Rajasthan from the Aravalli range. But now that the battered and heavily mined Aravalli range doesn’t stand up that much its like the desert wind is coming straight at us.

Soon there will be stories of taps running dry, power cuts and fights over water in some poorer parts of Delhi while in the richer areas people will waste what water they have (yes, people are sick like that).

Now the lucky ones can disappear in their air-conditioned offices for most part of the day but its the ones who are not so lucky and have to roam the streets who have my pity. Sattu-drink stalls will soon pop up with those beach umbrella kind things on them, and so will roadside lemonade stalls with dubious water that the middle-class won’t even touch but I suspect they are the only relief to the poor who have no choice but to fight the baking sun.

However, this piece isn’t about class wars, its about Delhi’s summer so coming back to it, it has some unique shenanigans of its own. Schools are supposed to have summer vacations that they try to delay by at least mid-May but soon kids start fainting in the outdoor assemblies held every morning and the Delhi govt declares schools shut. I suspect a lot of the teachers too secretly laud that decision even though outwardly they crib about less teaching days to finish their syllabus.

Many people have ACs turned on by now, but you know what I prefer – indigenous ‘coolers’ as they are called. Its a rectangular device with walls padded with some kind of grass like thing and a pump and fan. It has to be filled with water and it cools down a room pretty well, what I like the most about it (apart from the cooling) is the earthy water-on-mud smell that comes with it. Needless to say it is a fail in humid areas, but a boon in the furnace like conditions Delhi will achieve in the coming months.

Now that it has been installed in my home too I can sit back and not lament it so much that summer has arrived in Delhi…


10 thoughts on “Delhi ki garmi

  1. oh i remember stretching those school days to mid-may and counting the days left for the vacations to start. I miss summer vacations. Now i have to spend the time interning

  2. i know i may sound really crazy, but i love the Delhi summer! 🙂 as i like the Delhi winter. the coolers were such necessities even a decade ago… 🙂 the smell that of the straw mats soaked with water… bring back fond memories of my days at pune, whne we couldn’t afford ACs. but the coolers worked just fine 🙂 and, like you said, the smell was the attraction, much more than the cool air emanating from those humble and pachyderm-esque machines…

  3. The irony is whenever any1 talks about Delhi the first thing i remember is the Delhi heat. I fainted once when i went sightseeing during summer 😛

  4. Here in the States those coolers are often called “swamp coolers” especially in Florida and southern parts of the country where some use them. A/C is much more common, now. Summer temps of 90*F+/30*C+ and school are a miserable combination…. I once took/sat a French exam final and had sweat dripping onto the paper, smearing the passe’ parfait verb section. Yeech! And then there was the physical education/gym class misery… people fainting in the school halls after running laps outside. Oh happy teenage years (not!)

  5. I hate Delhi and its people and their temperament, I have been here for mere 6 months and after suffering the astringent as acid winter and the sultry summer, I guess I should forgive them. I have lived all my life in Bombay, a humid place due to proximity to sea and NY which has summer like day time winter of Bombay, I guess I will never be used to this place.

    Living elsewhere I always loved summer and said its the only season that is kind to poor since in winter and rain they need to buy extra layer of cloth but in summer even they can shed……but not in Delhi…no!

  6. Hi,

    Having studied in a Kendriya Vidyalaya, i used to hear theories that the changes in school timings were due to Delhi’s climate. Btw, if i am not mistaken the indigenous coolers you are talking are called “khas ki tatti”.
    P.S: For someone who has never been to Delhi, it is fairly informative!

    • yes, even I think they are called ‘khas ki tatti’ but I wasn’t 100% sure about it that’s why I didn’t put it there. You are right about it being fairly informative, I am impressed! Where did you get this information?

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