As I write, Delhi’s temperature in 42C.
And we are by no means the hottest place in India. That dubious distinction goes to Churu in Rajasthan, where it hit 50.8C. That’s 123.44F.
I live a life of privilege, well, certainly I do by India standards.
I have cold, clean, filtered water to drink & I have electricity to power the A/C.
To be honest, it doesn’t take much to be privileged in this furnace. Just have access to cooling and water.
But for the poorest of the poor in this country – of whom there are untold numbers – I cannot even begin to imagine how they cope, without the luxuries of shade and water.
How do people live and work on the streets in this heatwave? How do labourers, rickshaw-walas, street vendors – how in earth do they manage, poor things?
Nowadays, my dogs spend 99% of the day in a cool room, with the fan on and big bowls of water for them. And it breaks my heart to think that my two boys, much as I love them, lead better lives than so many humans.
But that is all part of the constant reality check that living in India is.
And especially living in a city as harsh as Delhi. Harsh climate. Rough, abrasive way of life. Some of the worst pollution on earth.
I repeat – how people survive the brutal summers, I really do not know.
The efforts we, as a household make to try & ease the burden for other people, are minimal in the scheme of things, but we do our best.
A “matkar” of cold, filtered water is available by our front gate for whoever needs it.
We always put out water & food for the birds and squirrels, but in summer, we go into overdrive, with bowls of water everywhere. (Yeah, yeah, mosquitoes. I know…sadly, that’s all part of living here…).
I carry bottles of water in my car, to give away to anyone who needs a cold drink.
We offer water to whoever comes to the house…hey! Don’t laugh. I read a bizarre discussion on Twitter today about whether or not you should offer cold water to delivery men, with people citing safety concerns.
I get it that Delhi is a totally unsafe city for women, but to discuss whether or not one should offer water to people during a heatwave…it boggles the mind.
If you don’t want to ask a visitor in (and that totally makes sense on safety grounds), leave the damned water and a glass outside the door.
How difficult is that?
There are, however, some heart-warming stories (no pun intended) out there, of random acts of kindness: a man handing out bottles of water to people sitting on a packed bus. A shop-keeper in the satellite city of Gurgaon, who leaves out rows of jars of filtered water along with snacks, for watchmen and labourers to help themselves.
As temperatures rise, I also worry about the increased risk of violence. People in Delhi are already on very short fuses at the best of times, but with the relentless heat, tempers can easily flare.
There is no immediate respite in store for us, with no rain predicted in the immediate future. Not even a nice good crash-bang-wallop storm to bring the temperature down.
So we all soldier on, as best we can.
I know I don’t need to remind any of you lovely people reading this, but do be kinder than usual in these difficult times.
Think of others.
And stay cool, people.
I took my time writing this, because of, you know, Stuff Happening – I work from home, so there is always Stuff Happening. But in the 2 hours since I started, the temperature has dropped by a degree.
So, as I sign off, it’s now a mere 41C.
As I said, stay cool 🙂