July 1st, 2019

The heat is on

I hope this doesn’t sound like a mean-spirited case of schadenfreude, because it isn’t meant to be at all – but I’m sitting here, MELTING in Delhi’s remorseless heat, reading about the heatwave in Europe.

Trust me, I do not belittle the 45.9C that clobbered France last week.

Not. At. All.

45.9C is bloody hot, by anybody’s standards.

Here in north India, we know pretty much how it feels. We’ve been sweating and sweltering through 42C, 43C, 44C for weeks on end now.

Today we had a high of 42C, and there is now no rain forecast for several more days. Another week of brutal heat looms.

Everyday I check the weather widget on my phone, and every day the rain seems to recede further and further into the hot and dusty future.

The monsoon is playing seriously hard-to-get.

What struck me about the European heat wave, is how quickly governments reacted.

Within a day, school exams were postponed. Shelters open. Water distributed. Cars banned. Pools kept open late.

Pro-active measures, and how.

Would that we had civic authorities that moved so quickly, to try and ease our burden.

As I’ve written before in this blog, I live a life of privilege.

I have access to clean water.

I have access to cooling.

I have a roof over my head.

You take my point.

Doesn’t take much to be privileged in Delhi’s summers…

This morning, driving back from running with the dogs in the forest, I passed a shanty town that has grown up around the interminable road works in south Delhi.

Itinerant workers, living in tiny thrown-together shacks on what should be the pavement, under a bridge still under construction. There were 2 men siphoning off water from a water tanker, and showering on the road, seemingly oblivious to cars zipping by. A woman in a dirty, crumpled sari was carrying a few sad-looking branches on her head, doubtless to make a fire in order to cook for her family. All on the road, under public gaze.

It doesn’t even bear thinking about, the terrible life these people lead, but in this heatwave…

I go through paroxysms of guilt every time I see such scenes.

Driving by in my A/C car, with 2 dogs who lead better lives than so many people…how shameful is that? My dogs have clean drinking water, and snooze all day in a room with a fan, and have proper food.

You take my point Mark II.

I’ve said it before in this blog, and on this very subject of the crippling heat, since we don’t have the same kind of rapid-action, pro-active governance that European countries have, it behoves every one of us to do our bit to help out.

It doesn’t take much to ease some one’s burden in the heatwave.

Please be kind in this weather.

Carry bottles of chilled water to give to the beggars at the traffic lights.

If you haven’t done so already, put a matka of water outside your house, so passers-by can have a drink. We refill ours at least twice a day, and I know the neighbours’ drivers and security guards use it. I’m seriously disappointed at how few matkas there are outside homes in my supposedly “smart” neighbourhood. How thoughtless do you have to be, not to share a jar of cold water with needy strangers?

Don’t forget to think about the stray dogs and the birds and squirrels, and put out extra water.

We have bowls of water and bird feeders on every balcony and very early mornings, when it’s already in the low 30s, see the most activity. Even the poor birds try and avoid the heat of the day.

It’s now 8pm and Delhi is 38C.

I’ll get up tomorrow to go meet my running group at 5.45 am and the forecast is for 32C. (Don’t tell me it’s stupid to run in this heat. I know it, and am being very very cautious).

And although I know not one of your lovely readers needs reminding to be kind – do please look out for others in this dreadful heat.

Stay cool, my friends.

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