Summertime Madness

Ah, summer. How I loathe you.

I grew up in Chennai, a city that witnesses summer year-round – the heat a sort of clingy, constant companion that you can never evade. We dealt with it using artificial, environmentally unfriendly methods to ease our suffering, shuffling from one air-conditioned environment to the next in an air-conditioned car.

A decade later, I found myself living and studying in Germany. But alas, my hope of gaining respite from the heat for a good portion of the year was not realized. The last few winters were barely cold let alone freezing, but the summers were relatively brutal for the region. The Germans all reacted the same way when the sun came out – they stepped outside in minimal clothing to soak it all in, frolicking as they developed the perfect tan. Meanwhile, I remained indoors until at least 5 pm, when I could be certain that the worst of the heat had passed and it was safe to venture out.

I’m very sensitive to heat, more so than the average person. It’s an actual condition and not mere dramatics on my part, as I often tell my dismissive friends. On warmer days in Germany, I carried multiple handkerchiefs (which I’d brought over in bundles from Chennai) with me to soak up the sweat while I saw other people sauntering about, dry as a bone.

But despite my all bemoaning, I’m aware that as far as real-life problems go, this is a relatively trivial one. Over the years I’ve devised ingenious coping mechanisms to make summer just a little easier to handle. For one, my productivity seems to be directly proportional to rising temperatures as I spend 9 am to 5 pm indoors, writing or painting. And that still leaves enough time to spend the milder evenings taking a stroll or catching up with friends and not feeling like a total recluse. I also take full advantage of indoor activities during the afternoons- hitting up museums, the cinema, even sweating it out at the gym (now that kind of climate-controlled perspiration I don’t mind).

But always, the hardest part is grappling with the dreaded FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) that inevitably strikes. Convincing yourself that you’re having a good time indoors while the entire world seems to be living it up without you can feel like a useless endeavour sometimes. I picture endless summer clichés – piña coladas, inflatable pools, shirtless lifeguards running in slow motion – until I remind myself that all I’m really missing out on is feeling like a polar bear trapped in a sauna. Besides, I live in Delhi now and the likelihood of those things happening in my neighbourhood is close to zero.

As always in life, there are some things you can control and others that you’ve simply got to roll with. And so, as we hurtle towards the hottest months of the year, I put away my favourite trench coat wistfully. Until next time!

A slightly modified version of this piece was originally featured on The Hindu’s Open Page.

In Photos: Dusty Delhi Days

Back in September, I moved to New Delhi. Over these six months, the weather has gone from sweltering to frigid to- presently- clear skies and a gentle breeze. And with that, the air quality has dramatically improved. (In Delhi, that means it’s no longer hazardous like in the winter months, just plain unhealthy.) My own feelings towards the city have oscillated between fascination and exasperation – apart from the absence of fresh air, there’s also the relentless honking, the inexplicably high prices, the disproportionate concentration of assholes – and yet, it’s been good to be here. Delhi is steeped in history, and the chaos fuels the writing somehow.

I learned things from my time at The Caravan and was especially happy to be part of the #metoo issue- the movement only taking off in India towards the end of last year.

Being the capital, Delhi also hosts numerous events – lectures, art shows, special film screenings – throughout the year. In September, the farmer’s march drew over a hundred thousand workers from across the country, and the Queer Pride Parade took place in November, the first one since the Supreme Court’s decision to finally rid the country of Section 377.

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On Raisina road, with the Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s Estate) in the distance

 

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Delhi Queer Pride Parade, November 2018

 

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Farmers travelled across India to the capital to participate in the protests, September 2018

 

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Khan Market

 

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Evenings at Lodhi Garden

 

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Old Delhi

 

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Daryaganj Book Market

 

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Safdarjung’s Tomb

 

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Delite cinema, founded in the 1950s

 

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Afternoon slumber, Old Delhi

 

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Jama Masjid

 

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United Coffee House, Nehru Place

 

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The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri

 

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Sunlight, winter afternoon

Life Updates: The Balkans, Mashrou’ Leila & Being on the Road

I have finally bid goodbye to Münster, the quiet little German city that everybody constantly raved about but I just couldn’t warm up to. Since the start of April, I’ve been travelling across the Balkans, soaking in the diverse culture, cuisine, hospitality and unpretentiousness of the region. Continue reading “Life Updates: The Balkans, Mashrou’ Leila & Being on the Road”