Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some like it hot

The weather, that is. They cannot stand the cold, and long for the heat of summer. But I am totally a winter person. I would any day don warm clothes and curl up under a blanket with a hot beverage, than bear the heat of summer.

Heat drains me, tires me out. If I don't remember to keep myself constantly hydrated, I turn into this moping, grouchy, whiny, tired, irritable person, someone you would do best to steer clear of.

Bangalore summer has never been too bad, but it is progressively getting worse. Yet, I should be thankful I live in a city with a fairly good thermostat.

As if to teach me a lesson for complaining, fate sent me to do my post-grad in Trichy, a hot, dry place in Tamilnadu. The town is known for three kinds of weather - hot, hotter and hottest. I don't know how I survived 18 months in that place, but I came back with a healthier respect for Bangalore.

When I first entered the hostel, I was surprised to see that most of the local girls slept directly on the metal cots, without mattresses. Come summer, I understood the logic. The mattress was an encumbrance. It radiated heat. I rolled up my mattress, set it aside and lay down on the welcoming cool of the steel cot. It was alright for a while, until the cot took on the temperature of my body. Add to that the discomfort of sleeping on a hard surface, and I decided that I would rather sleep on the mattress. I then took to pouring a bottle of water over my mattress before I went to bed, just for the few hours of coolness. By midnight, the mattress would be dry, and it would be hell again. There was a fan, of course, but somehow, it was just not enough. Thankfully, there weren't many power cuts there. There was only one terrible night, where there was no power for a few hours. It was the peak of summer, and I stayed up all night fanning myself with the moistened lavancha (khus/vettiver) hand-fan. Yet, by morning, I was drenched in sweat.

The sun in Trichy is treacherous. Even when it doesn't look all that sunny, all you have to do is venture out to feel the sun burn your skin. It almost feels like needles pricking you. I travelled around the campus in a bicycle, mainly to make sure that I get from one place to another as quickly as possible. It didn't help that it was a terribly conservative place, where I couldn't wear even a sleeveless top without a thousand tongues wagging. So there I was, overdressed, panting, pedalling with all my might, straining to get to my destination before I turned into a dry leaf.

In spite of all my avoiding being out in the sun, our department (of Energy Engineering), had very thoughtfully arranged the Solar Energy Experiments in the Summer Semester. And the time? Just after lunch. So there we were, out in the sun in 42 dec C (I measured that in the thermometer we used for our experiments), and working out things like which inclination works best for solar water heaters and which for solar photovoltaics. It was so hot that you could fry pakodas on our heads. Not that you would want to, though, in that heat. And the strange thing is that I never sweated. Probably it was so hot that the sweat evaporated as soon as it was ejected from the pores of my body

When I got back to my room after that, I would go to the bathroom and pour a bucketful of cold water over myself. None of that water reached the floor of the bathroom. My parched body absorbed it all.

Then there was this time when my friend R and I had been out to the city. We hadn't carried water with us, and we were very thirsty. The city bus dropped us at the main gate of the campus, from where we had to walk nearly a kilometer to reach our hostel. We were so thirsty that our throats were burning and dry; we could't even talk. Just as we got down from the bus, the sky opened up a wee bit, and let loose a few drops of water. But we had no reason to rejoice. The moment the drops of water touched the burning, black, tarred road, the water just turned into steam and rose up. So there we were, walking in a veritable sauna. If the hostel had been even a wee bit farther than it was, we would have had to crawl up to the hostel, with our tongues hanging out. I realized then that those actors who portray thirsty people in the movies weren't really overacting.

The water that finally slaked our thirst felt like it came straight from heaven.

Now just writing all this has burned me up. Time for a drink of water.


rajk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rajk said...

Oh my God, Shruthi, reading the first few lines of this post felt eerily like I had written them! I am totally winter person. (Of course, I haven't experienced bitter cold weather yet.) I hate the heat.
I too stayed in a hostel in very hot Ahmedabad. We used to pour buckets of water on the floor to keep it cool. Oh, the things we did!

anoop said...

It's my first summer in Hyderabad, and they say its going to get hotter, need I say more :). hmmm not yet sure what to expect but I believe firmly that I will endure it.

When you say you are a winter person I'm sure you are referring to Indian winters - they are a treat. The European or American winters are bone chilling and I don't think you would like being covered in 2-3 layers of clothing whenever heading out.

Wunderyearz said...

Hey I'm a winter person too.......just cannot stand heat ...and to think I spent all my school vacations in the ever hot and humid God's own country.....Now looking back I really don't know how I lived through it.
Hats off to you for surviving 18 Months in Trichy!!!!

R said...

This is R here:) I remember that day so well, but the Trichy had its own charm... Remember Opal, Octa, Juicy and all those beautiful temples...I had great time with K and D and YOU :-)
I would love to go back there someday..

praneshachar said...

nostalgia from trichy, summer of bengalooru had taken u back to your most hot days in your life bellary is also one place where heat is like that in Beechis words they are only two seasons in bellary besige((summer)
sude or kadu besige (* hot summer)
art of writing is just in you remembering the events of past and penning down in such a descrptive style great simply great
keep up

Anonymous said...

Me too. I hate summer. As I was reading your experience in Trichy I had a frown on my face as if I was undergoing it.

Good writing :)


Anonymous said...

Having lived in the bone chilling winters of New York I will go to any warm weather place in a heart beat. :)

I miss the warm weather back in Bengaluru that I hated, just like most people, so much when I was living there. Now that I miss the nice weather I appreciate everything that I have missed for many, many years now.

If it is 0 Deg. C(32 Deg. F) in winter over here people call is nice and warm in the dead winter season when the temps. can go below zero most of the time. Now that's really cold!

Good post considering the Sun is heading North and summer is on its way for those of us living in the Northeren hemisphere.


Anonymous said...

Talk about winter in Northern Hemisphere....I lived in a place where -10 F is considered Spring weather (In peak weather, temperature reaches -60 F with wind chill factor). Well, we have the ability to adopt to our immediate environment, don't we?. I don't mind the hot weather of Bangalore, but what I really hate is those 'mosquitoes'....I can't stand them.
I don't know why the BBMC hasn't done something about eradicating those creatures...BTW, I thought Bangaloreans have AC in their homes and cars....don't they?

Viky said...

"None of that water reached the floor of the bathroom."

If only I knew you at that time, and I was a film-maker, I would have given the world - SPONGE GIRL!!!

I love summer!

N said...

Good write up always :-)
Me too a winter person. Lived in mysore for most of my life, which is very much tolerable even in summer. Now live in europe and celebrate anything above 0°C as warm :-)
Honestly,In terms of weather,havent found a better place than mysore on this planet!!

Anu said...

When in Singapore I couldn't stand the heat. Now in England during winter I can't stand the cold. I was made for Mysore. :(

Raj said...

Ha, now you know why BHEL set up its boiler plant in Trichy!

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Just ran into your blog. I live in a very cold part of US and planning a trip to Bangalore soon...eagerly awaiting as well as dreading the summer heat. But Trichy sounds like a different ball game all-together. I'll probably roast in a jiffy if I set my foot there :)

Shruthi said...

Rajk, I'm sure I'll hate extreme cold too :) I am just a spoilt Bangalorean :)

Anoop, I've heard lots about Hyderabad summers :) All the best! And yes, I do mean Indian winters, as in Bangalore winters :D. I experienced a Darjeeling-Sikkim winter once, and I wouldn't want to go through that again.

Wunderyearz, :)) Now have you already dealt with the winter out there?

R, I would love to go back there someday too, preferably with you people!

Praneshachar, I've experienced a Bellary summer. I don't think I have sweated that much ever before and ever again in my life.

Rashmi, ha ha :)) Thanks!

Vish, *shudder*! Have a lovely summer!

Anon, I can't stand mosquitoes either. Thankfully, and touchwood, not too many where I live. And Bangaloreans having ac in their cars and homes? Ha ha :)

Viky, LOL! And do you like winter?

N, I totally agree!

Anu, poor you!

Raj, heh heh :) That plant was right next door to us, btw!

Anon, hope you enjoy Bangalore - the place as well as the weather :)

Footsteps said...

oh well. I stayed in Hyderabad for 5 years in its terrible dry heat. And I always thought winters are way way better than summers. But now, after Washington DC winter (which is mild!) I long for the sun, and I am so sick of piling on and peeling off layers and layers of clothes.
Am so confused! :D
My mom often says whoever gets used to Bangalore weather can never like another!

Anil Jagalur said...

I know someone from Madurai who lived in Mysore and kept all the windows shut, because it was too cold, in summer.

My cousins came to visit us in Mysore, from Erode, for the summer holidays and took our temporarily discarded woollen blankets and snuggled into them for the night

Deepali S said...

Yeah..... Exactly.... Oh God.... were the words coming out of my mouth when i was readingh ur blog.. So very true.. I hate summer to the core. My native is in North Karnataka, majorly known for its scorching heat which rises above 41-42 every summer. I remember pouring water all over the house , on beds and mats and pillows to keep them cool.. and even the power cuts made it unbearable to survive in the hot weather.. God wht if there were only two seasons!!!!! Sigh!!!

- -