Friday, 20 May 2016

The Loo.... Summer in the City

And no the title isn't what you think its about.....

On Wednesday Delhi was issued with an Orange alert, we are in the midst of a Summers heat wave. We have seen temperatures reaching as high as 47 degrees and apparently the monsoon has been delayed by another 14 or so days. It's now expected around the 27-31 May. Already in SE India there has been storms and the news is full of the tragedy in Sri Lanka, where over 100 people are missing in mudslides, following days of continuous torrential downpours. A friend sent me a clipping from a newspaper this morning, a town near Jodhpur in Rajasthan yesterday recorded Indias official highest temperature of 51 degrees (and we all know that in spots the temperature is higher than the official recorded places)

However yesterday I awoke to a strong wind blowing and I opened the doors to let this welcome breeze through....ah air! It's been so hot and dry recently that in the afternoons it almost hurts to breathe. It makes you lazy and you close the curtains, snooze the afternoon away, hibernating for a few hours.  Now as you know I'm not very good at 'relaxing' and I'm finding it quite frustrating to be entombed inside the house, but in all honesty you cannot stay outside for too long without being cooked. Poor Oscar isn't enjoying his comfort breaks as his paws are burning on the ferociously hot concrete.

There is no need to put the hot tap on for our showers now, the water coming out of the taps is hot enough! we are watering the plants on the balcony in hot water!! Yes throughout my time in Singapore I dont think we ever had truly cold water coming out of the taps and when we returned to the UK for those few months my teeth actually ached from the cold water! This temperature however is completely different.

As predicted we are regularly have power cuts, already this morning we have had 3. Thankfully we have a back up generator which makes life that much more pleasant, although we've had to buy units to protect our computers from these power cuts. We however are the lucky ones many, many thousands don't have aircon, cooler boxes and certainly no generators to aid when the inevitable power cuts occur. Whether in their homes, living in shanty slums or living on the streets thousands are suffering in the heat, we are so very fortunate. Our security guards until recently had no fan, you're asking someone to sit in this heat for 12 hours a day 6 days a week with no basic facilities (I've mentioned before that there are no toilets for them and they 'share' the alley with the dogs and cows) Our driver and his extended family live in a 4 storey house in a town on the West Of Delhi, like us they're suffering power outages but unlike us do not have aircon or the luxury of a generator. He and his wife, brother and his wife and young child have been given permission by the Embassy their mother lives and works in to stay there for the next month. A simple but kind gesture by the Embassy but one I'm sure they won't advertise as its not a request they can agree to for all their staffs extended family members.

Life and the world seems quite quiet now, even the birds are silent, our 'Mr & Mrs Raven' sit in the tree in front of our balcony silent and unmoving, with their beaks open trying to cool themselves down. Monkeys are coming closer to homes than before, looking for water and the street dogs are only seen first thing in the morning and in the evening. From 9am onwards they are under cars, beneath trees looking for shade, they're not even interested in coming out for their doggie treats which they know we carry in our pockets.

Anyway the reason for the name of the post. The Loo? and no its nothing to do with the smallest room in the house. Here was me saying to my lovely Delhi ladies how much I appreciated this wind blowing through at the moment, when they were askance at me for venturing out in it (they kind of think I'm nuts any ways for going out exploring but then I'm used to that opinion by now!!!) It turns out the lovely breeze I'm so thankful for is in fact the dreaded Loo.

The Loo is a dry hot wind blowing in from the West between May and June, a precursor to the coming monsoon. Its a weather system originating from the deserts of India and Pakistan (the Indo-Gangetic Plains) With temperature of between 45-50 degrees it brings with it high risks of heatstroke. These heatstrokes are called Loo lagna, which means 'stricken by the Loo'. People are advised to avoid where possible, especially the young and old. Indeed not only my Indian friends here in Delhi have warned me of this but also those Expat Indians in the UK and Singapore. The Loo is similar to that of Frances Mistral and other such hot winds across the world.

Not only is it advisable for humans to beware of but, it brings death and destruction to wildlife and insects. One positive is that the number of mosquitos decline dramatically. Woohoo... in the past 2 weeks I've only be bitten twice and currently the only hum we hear in the bedroom at night comes from the fans and not those ninja insects (a pity it wont last) Water supplies are evaporating quickly as the wind dries them out all to quickly, a cause of concern for humans and wildlife alike, both who many will sadly succumb through.

It also brings with it dust/sand storms, a few of which we have had already. The world goes dark for a short time and the air is thick with sand and debris as the blizzard of dust blasts through. We have not had anything to strong here in Vasant Vihar. The other week hubby watched from his high-rise office window as one blew through Gurgaon and he has driven through another on the way home, watching as he passed the airport as a plane tried to land sideways through another sandstorm. These how are not severe, there are many news reports on the internet of damage caused in recent years.

My friends swear by a local drink to refresh themselves during this time. Rooh Afza, indeed this seems something of a national treasure. A 'squash' made from cooling ingredients of which rose is a strong ingredient. It is also popularly served with milk and ice. I have to admit its not really my 'cup of tea' or should I say 'glass of Rooh Afza' probably due to the inclusion of rose, which isn't my preferred taste. Give me a plain sweet lassi any day, thankfully they have Mothers Dairy just across from home here, which reminds me I need replenish my stock. In Singapore the drink I'd turn to for the same cooling effect was a lovely cold soya milk, plain or almond flavoured, usually bought from the lovely Aunties down at Parkway Parade.

Now The Loo may be dreaded by some, but I still find a wind, even if hot and dry, preferably to no air and burning temperatures, but a good storm would be excellent right about now, I shall be the first to stand out on balcony and enjoy. It's likely to be another month at least yet though and let's hope the rains do come, especially after a dry winter. The earth is dust, the leaves crinkled and dry and the once green grass is straw. I wonder if they get wild fires here? Especially with all the rubbish and broken glass around.

I'm learning to adjust my way of life to each week and Indias seasonal changes and challenges. It certainly doesn't make for a dull life and as I'm a Brit we of course always like talking about the weather.... as I've found do the Indians, Australians, Singaporeans and...and....

Now to get this finished before another power cut, partake of a cold lassi and snooze the afternoon away. Happy Weekend all! 

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