The heat, again

In December 2000, on our last day at the company before our transfer to Germany, my wife and I met the directors in their cabin. After the customary greetings and best wishes for the years ahead, one of the directors brought up the weather. He had recently returned from Germany, and he said we were lucky since severe winter hadn’t yet set in.

“It was still around 15 degrees when I left, which is very unusual for this time of the year.”

The other director was surprised to hear this, and something in his expression told me that he had, in that moment, decided on his next trip to Germany.

Once outside, Wife and I looked at each other and smiled.

“I cannot understand the Germans.” I said, shaking my head. “Quite obsessed with the weather, aren’t they.”

Like most urban middle-class Indians, our interest in weather was limited to infrequent conversations about the heat. Until a decade ago the mass media reflected this – all we got at the end of a doordarshan news programme was a listing of maximum and minimum temperatures recorded in the four metropolitan cities.

And before we end, here are the temperatures recorded at the four ….

It was as if these numbers were insignificant statistics, added as a formality just before signing off merely to placate people at the meteorological department, who, back then, were probably not much better at predicting weather than astrologers were at predicting the future.

Some years later viewers were fed with an image – from the Insat 1B, the news-reader emphasised, just to be sure everyone understood we too had a satellite up there – that showed a clear picture of our country in a black background with smears of white here and there, patches that portended rain and instilled hope.

These days things are very different. Weather has turned into a profitable business (not as profitable as astrology, though) and we now have whole bulletins reeling out forecasts from Tokyo to Timbuktu about snowfalls and showers. (The other day, at an informal gathering, someone joked that CNN intended to outsource its weather forecasts to India. I later learnt that an earnest member of that gathering had initiated plans to introduce a course that groomed “weather-consultants”.)

Our perception about weather has changed considerably in the three and half years we have spent in Germany. The day begins with a look at the temperature reading on the car dashboard followed by a quick extrapolation of how cold or warm the day would turn out; on Fridays a look at the weekend forecast is mandatory; travel plans are seldom made without consulting weather channels; and any long occurrence of unfluctuating weather results in frequent checks to see when the pattern would change.

In short, we’ve almost reached the German levels of obsession, thanks mainly to the fluctuations and extremities we experience here. These days the temperature is hovering around 35 degrees Celsius, which is unbearable in offices that have no air-conditioning (and most offices, including ours, don’t). Last year it touched 40 degrees Celsius – a record of sorts, and it did lead to a few alarming occurrences.

Some months ago when North India was reeling under the heat wave, I spent time giggling at the laments of the Delhi-trio – Anita, Rash and Hekate – whose blogs, during those days, resembled journals of souls stuck in the middle of the Sahara, with sentences resembling utterances from a parched throat. It is now time for me to face the heat, and for you to bear with its consequences.

19 thoughts on “The heat, again

  1. You LAFFED at us? When we were SUFFERING? I thought you’d be a nicer person, Parmanu. *Hurt* Still, since I am clearly nicer than you – a thermos of freshlime water, mixed sweet and salt, works wonders.

  2. Have now converted into ‘Lagaan’ style villager mode and look up at sky at frequent intervals to invoke the raingods to burst upon us

  3. It’s not just Germany. When I visited Canada two summers ago, my relatives there had the weather channel on ALL day. But I didn’t need to follow it. Every neighbour/stroller/shopkeeper would tell me anyway 🙂

    Lol@ Rash’s Lagaan look. Be prepared with your chiffon sari, Rash. That usually works with rain gods 😉

  4. Was lucky to grab the final fan from facilities dept. today:-) Hoping it will be in use for a few more months…

  5. I dont know about the rest of the world..out here its still winter..or is it already winter?! June went, july went, now its august and no signs of heat.

    you are right abt people getting all caught up on the weather channel. its another mandatory language. You know what, now I cannot comprehend weather in celcius.

    Well, in India what difference does it make? the weather is the same. In Madras, take an umbrella..its always hot. In Mangalore, take an umbrella..its always pouring. In Bangalore, take an umbrella..its always good to have a weapon.

  6. Question: What’s common between a thermos containing lime water, a lagaan style villager, a chiffon sari, a fan from facilites dept, and an umbrella?

    Answer: Different ways to beat the weather.

    Cumulative intelligence can spring up ingenious solutions to everyday problems, isn’t it?!

  7. Parmanu, how does a chiffon saree beat the weather? Please elaborate. Dont get carried away by Lee. And why do you sound like a school teacher more and more?

  8. hot and bothered??? did you say…Me and hot?!!! *fume fume* nahin yaar. Just wanted Parmanu to bring out the relation between heat and chiffon saree in the most scholarly way. Does chiffon get starched? See, I would have let this topic go, but I just need to get facts right..its important for my growth.

  9. Alpha: When you wear a chiffon saree and wave it at someone, it would beat the heat out of him. Got it?

    Aaar: Sure a chiffon saree can be used as a fan. Of course you need someone like alpha to wave it at you.

    Leela: The starch-and-cut strategy is mindblowing; there cannot be a more scholarly answer than that. But please don’t do it while alpha is still wearing the saree.

  10. manu ji! If I wear a cut-n-starched chiffon saree and wave it at someone, global warming would have reached new levels.

    Aaar: chiffon saree is a saree (6 yeards of fabric) made of flimsy material and in some cases the whole saree can pass through a finger ring. It comes in various colors like you would have seen in Sreedevi’s “I love you” dance in Mr. India or Raveena tandon’s ‘Tap tap barse paani’. For more details, search in Google.

  11. useful??? er..I dont know if being of use to a man would be considered universally useful. Lets say, rain and chiffons go together. So I would have to correct parmanu’s pervious anology. It doesnt do anything in for the heat. In fact, makes you sweat more and then maybe it’ll give you the same rain effect after 5 gallons of sweat and 6 sun-burns, parched lips and listless hair.

  12. Sorry to bust the party like this, but IMHO:

    Hek’s got a chiffon the shoulder- that’s a debacle.

    But Alpha’s got a chiffon the shoulder/ off the sholder – that’s debatable.

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