Climate

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9:20 AM


That's it! Another school year came and went...just like that. Ishita had her very serious Graduation ceremony from pre-primary level yesterday. And, I am contemplating two months of hot Summer to occupy.

This is the time of the year that will send even the most patient mother for a spin. It is hot, humid and plain old nasty outdoor in Mumbai. Everybody in the know will tell you that there is zero point in going out between 10am and 5pm. And they are right, the only reason you could have to head out of your home is if you plan to go to a place that has the AC on full blast (the mall being one of the few options).

You see, in the more temperate regions of the globe, Summer is a fun season (which for many start in June, not March like it is the case in India). You get to get out, enjoy the beach, have barbecues outdoor, or go for a hike. It is the time to just have a blast and enjoy the outdoors full on.
In most of India, this is the hottest time of the year, to the point of even being injurious to health. People spend the day at home in semi darkness, shutting as much of the sun out as they can. Like all, I go through the ritual of shutting all my windows by 10am and pull the curtains shut where I can (not my living room though, they are too short and it would be too dark).

This daily ritual has the nastiness to remind me what I hated the most about Winter in Switzerland. I HATE being all shut inside my own home. It makes me feel claustrophobic. And the darkness doesn't do much for my mood. Add a child to that mix, and you go banana real quick. Ishita wants out as much as I do, but instead we are sitting indoors, still sweating away from the heat and trying to kill time until we can get to the park in the evening.

The best way to explain Summer in India to someone not familiar with the concept is to say it is like the harsh Winters in Europe and US. It is an extreme climate. The plains of North India get even hotter, much hotter than Mumbai (which is already hell). Replace the cold icy blizzards and icy rains with blazing hot sun and air and you have the same kind of critical climate no human being would want to be out into more than the strict necessary. People further up North stay indoor to avoid frostbites and hypothermia, in most of India we stay indoor to avoid sunburns and heat strokes.
The only difference being that kids in Europe don't have their longer school break when the climate is at its worst. They have their two months break in the Summer because they can enjoy that time of the year.

I spent all of yesterday afternoon braving the still somewhat moderate heat hunting for a plastic table cloth i never found. Stopped for ice cream and then took Ishita to the craft supply store to pick up an activity kit to keep us both busy. She choose rainbow looms (more on that later). The plastic table cloth plan was to cover our dinning table during messy craft projects instead of tackling newspaper that won't stay put under the fan.
I'll have to take that hunt to e-shopping sites today.

Now if you'll excuse me, it is almost time for me to go shut all those windows for the day.

3 comments

  1. Anonymous2:13 PM

    The blazing hot summer winds are called "loo" in Hindi and they are quiet deadly. When someone gets a heat stroke it is said "usko loo lag gaye hai". You have to keep your head protected. After some time the hot winds enter your body and you become one with nature. Interestingly, one way to avoid getting sick from hot winds is to carry an onion on your pocket while going out in the sun. These hot winds are also responsible for the ripening of mangoes. Dry heat is tolerable but humidy is not. With summers a cold drink or fan can cool you down but with winters there is no escape because your house is as cold as outside especially in north india due to lack of internal heating. I went to Ladakh and did not appreciate the cold. The wind was like a knife there. I like summers because there is no fog. Moreover weather has become more extreme in the past twenty years due to global warming.

    BTw did ishita got her graduation robe and degree. My son got his when he graduated from nursery to first grade. This is a new tradition started by schools like the graduation ceremony of colleges. American style I guess. We Don't Have It In Indian colleges unless u get a post graduation degree.

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    1. That onion thing sounds like a serious old wives tale, the reason the wind proves to be deadly is that it is hot but the body doesn't realise it is loosing water as quickly as it would if there was no wind. The humidity makes heat worse, but it is also a blessing in a way that because you sweat bullets you feel thirsty quicker too.
      I travelled a lot in my childhood, once we were in a Sahara desert in July, hot as hell of course. The locals told us the best deffense against that kind of heat is to drink regularly and often, even if not thirsty because the dry heat makes it impossible to realise how quickly you dehydrate yourself.

      I. North India I would say being outdoor in the winter is better than being indoors, the concrete is a poor insulant and keeps the house colder than the outside during the day. Interestingly, India would benefit from wood flooring, as wood is a great insulant, not just against cold but against heat as well. The one flat in which we had all East facing windows had one room with a wood floor, that room was the coolest in Summer while all the other had hot marble tiles. We never needed the AC during the day in that one room while all the others were ridiculously hot.

      Yes she had the gown and hat and diploma ceremony, it was really cute. Growing up I had a yearly "graduation". Public schools in Geneva have a big parade day in each county. My county had 5 schools, we would all parade in the street together, then head to the communal all and county ground where the mayor would give a speech and kids perform a few song and dance, then it was party time under the tents, parents would eat and drink and dance while kids would spend their allowances on merry go rounds and county fair games before the Summer break. The party usually lasted from 4pm until well into the night and was public, anybody could attend. The whole diploma and graduation came only at the end of high school, and there was no cap or gown involved, that thing is very American I think.

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    2. Oh and in Switzerland, we keep the central heating low in Winter, to preserve energy, so we need to dress warmly still indoors. I would always be wearing a sweater inside, or a long sleeved t-shirt with a shawl, pretty much the same way I do it in North India. The only difference being that is is far less a torture to go take a shower in Switzerland and that we don't need to get under a blanket to watch TV, but on average the indoor temp in Swiss home in the winter is 18 degrees. Of course it is often in the minus temps outdoor. We regard heating the same way AC is regarded here, something that guzzle energy and need to be preserved. In most apparetement buildings, the heater has a timer and it goes off at 9-10pm because culturally we sleep with windows opened, even in the absolute dead of winter. Just to allow fresh air and flush the indoor pollution out. Heating a room that is opened to the outdoor makes zero sense. Independant home owners are responsible for buying their fuel and usually keep the heater lower than in apartment buildings were the use of it is charged in the maintenance fee we all pay year round.

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