Monday, April 9, 2012

Delhi In April: Summer Is Here!

The summer has arrived in Delhi. It will be quite a while before the cool days and nights return again. The sun is bright and the breeze very warm. It is dry and dusty.

Delhiites have just the right remedy for these weather conditions. It is a rather large contraption, called the air cooler or desert cooler. These huge, metal objects are ubiquitous in the capital. They are often seen perched on a metal frame or stand, installed outside a window. As the water filled in the inside chamber evaporates, it draws heat from the surrounding air to do so, making it cooler in turn. The powerful fan then blows this cool air inside the room. These coolers are very effective and economical too, much more affordable than air conditioners. They are rather noisy, and there is no temperature control. I have enjoyed many pleasantly cool days and nights, thanks to these coolers. They provide enormous relief to the weary residents of Delhi. The flip side of using these coolers? The stagnant water (when the cooler is not in use), acts as an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes. The warm temperatures help too. One needs to be especially careful in keeping the coolers clean, not letting unused water stand in them for too long.

Nature provides its own coolers too. Markets are flooded with watermelons and musk melons. The huge fruits spill out of Mother Dairy outlets. Sellers sit with heaps of melons on the footpaths, usually under a tree, waiting for customers. Tender coconuts, that were earlier found mainly in coastal areas, are available in Delhi too. Stalls selling fresh fruit juices by the roadside are in business again. Also on offer is a drink called "neembu lemon". It is basically fresh lime soda with some spices, like chaat masala, black pepper and salt. A very refreshing concoction indeed, with a name that never fails to amuse me. Cucumber slices, placed on slabs of ice entice people who are out on a hot day. The seller sprinkles them with a generous amount of powdered spices before serving them. They taste great, but the conditions in which they are served on the roadside are unfortunately not hygienic.

Mango trees wear a different look as they get covered with tiny white flowers. In fact, some early fruits, especially the raw ones, already hit the market. The tangy fruit is chopped into pieces, and mixed with spices and oil to make delicious pickles.

Schools reopen after a short break. In a few weeks, they will close for the summer vacation. It is back to the mostly white summer uniforms. All the woollens have been packed and stored safely. Loose, cotton clothes feel just right. Popular markets like Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar have very affordable, cool, cotton garments on offer.

This is just the beginning. The summer is here to stay for long.

No comments:

Post a Comment