I have always been particularly vulnerable to heat. As a child, I used to get fever (sunstroke, I assume) if I was out in the sun for a few hours. Now that I’m grown up, it’s more like a few minutes. No surprise that summer is my least favourite time of the year.
The heat oppresses me and weighs down my body. I find it hard to drag myself out of bed: yet the heat makes it uncomfortable to sleep. At night, I have disturbed dreams and wake up with a parched throat. I spread myself on my side of the bed, carefully arranging myself so that the breeze from the fan reaches as much of my body as possible and yet making sure I am not touching the Guy. I hate going out during the day. I only stepped out of the house once this weekend, and then, it was the thought of having ice-cream that tempted me. I am cranky: I sound and feel like a rusted metal door.
Assam, where I grew up, was sultry. The heat was balanced by an oppressive humidity that made people sweaty and lethargic. I sweated, I felt lazy, I showered frequently, but I slept like a log at night. Here, my skin feels like it will crack open, and I am thirsty right after downing a glass of water. The heat stands still, waiting ominously, unlike the stormy weather of Assam. And there, my mother welcomed me with a cool glass of lemonade or slice of watermelon: here, we order in a hot greasy dinner because we are too hot and tired to cook.
I tell myself, I have it easy: an air-conditioned car to ride to office in, an air-conditioned office to shelter in all day, and the fact that I live in Pune, not the hottest of cities. I wonder how I ever survived in Delhi. There, I lived in a tiny room with no ventilation or air cooler. (The hostel managers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to shut off the AC that summer.) I remember dipping my bedsheet in a bucket of water in a desperate attempt to cool my bed, and waking up a couple of hours later with the bed as dry and hot as ever. I went walking around various markets in the afternoons for my summer internship in temperatures that were well above 40° C: I did get unwell, but only mildly.
After that summer, I felt like I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Now, though, I would rather buy an AC than build character.