Delhi is a city of distinct seasons. It has a different look and a different feel in each season. Naturally, weather is a very important topic of conversation for Delhiites. Year in and year out, they say the same things to one another and feel sad or happy about the weather. Having spent a major part of my life in Delhi, I have experienced the agony and the ecstasy of the Delhi weather. I am trying to put together a collage of the various faces of Delhi in different seasons. I may do it month by month or I may club a couple of months together. First in the series is the month of July.
It is hard to say which is the cruellest month in Delhi (for there are
many), but July will certainly qualify to be one of the top contenders.
The high temperatures along with high humidity levels are enough to test
the tolerance and patience of the toughest of tough people. If you are
outdoors, the hot sun saps your energy in no time. If indoors, the sweat
makes you sticky and miserable. The fan whirring overhead is of little
help. But life does go on. In fact, schools reopen after summer holidays
in the first week of July. Your freshly bathed little one who went to
school wearing a clean uniform in the morning, returns home with damp
hair, sweaty wet shirt and smelly socks. The water in the poor kid's
water bottle is over. It is quite an effort to carry the heavy backpack.
There is an odd umbrella or raincoat too. The kid goes back to school
again the next day and comes back in a dishevelled state, and the same ordeal continues
the day after the next day and the day after that. July always seems to
be very long. There are 31 days and no extra holidays as no major
festival or national holiday falls in this month.
To make up for this gloomy scene, nature does throw in some goodies even
in this inhospitable month. When you step out in the evening, it is
still hot, but at least the sun is not blazing ferociously above you. You
walk a little and a pleasant whiff of corn on the cob being roasted on a
makeshift fire by the streetside greets you. If you care for one, the
seller dabs it with fresh lemon and tangy spices and hands it over to
you. Roasted corn on the cob tastes best on a rainy day when it has just
stopped raining and the poor seller is struggling to keep the roadside
fire going. Pay him more than he asks for and the smile on his face will
make the whole experience worth a lot more.
Elsewhere in the market, luscious plums have arrived. The dark red or
blackish red fruit is sometimes covered with a dusty white coating.
Bring home some plums, wash them and bite into their soft flesh. If you
are lucky, you may chance upon a deliciously sweet fruit. But you are
equally likely to find a tart one. Sweet or tart, plums are a treat,
especially because they are seasonal and it is hard to find them at
other times of the year.
The swim in the Boat Club waters provides temporary relief. It is still
very hot although the dust storms that are so characteristic of the
Delhi summer have stopped. But the rain Gods are not yet smiling on the
capital. Some days dawn bright and clear with absolutely no trace of a
cloud. Newspapers and television screens tell you that it is raining
cats and dogs in Mumbai and you long to go there. But you are in Delhi,
where the afternoon is frighteningly still. On some days, the same
stillness envelopes Delhi through the evening and the night. But on some
rare days, the city gets drenched with a sudden evening shower and the
setting sun appears again on the skyline. That is precisely the time to
get out of the house and enjoy the best Delhi can offer under given