In a land where the amount of sunlight one gets each year is strictly rationed, the question of surplus does not arise. This was a fact until two weeks ago. While the European heat wave may be making waves in the news channels across the globe, people in Germany are meeting – and sometimes beating – the heat in their own ways.
Men in our neighborhood can be seen with nothing on but their underwear. Women turn up with short tops and shorter skirts, though not short enough.
At work, queues at coffee machines have migrated to water coolers, and people who normally yearn for sunlight are seen lowering the blinds each morning.
Fields of corn, once green, are now burnt yellow.
The shelves displaying table fans in departmental stores stand empty.
Ice candy vans have sprung up in places occupied earlier by meat vendors or flower vendors.
Minor traffic jams can be seen near schwimbad, the local swimming club.
A colleague asks my wife “Why are you wearing so many clothes ?!” It takes a while for her to understand that there are no indecent intentions behind the question, only an incredulous mind wondering how we survive with so many clothes on at such times.
At the chess club, I see all my opponents sweating; my game has nothing to do with it.
But the prize goes to the owner of our local South Asian grocery store, who has his own elegant theory explaining the situation when we return a packet of rice infested with worms. “It is the heat.” he says, looking at the little white worms so much like rice grains crawling inside the packet. “It is the heat which is turning the rice grains into these worms. The heat, and nothing else.”
Until that moment, I had thought the heat had affected only the Germans.