The Indian Summer is a season unlike any other. The sun is out rather early, but the atmosphere is quite comfortable, pleasant even. It stays that way till around 8 30 AM. Birds coo, cicadas chirp and the night dew glistens on the grass. There is absolutely no inkling of what is to follow.
By 10 AM, it is a furnace. The heat is intense and the glare of the sunlight makes it painful to even look out. The birds stop their twittering and the only sound one can hear is of the harsh loo rustling through the trees. I have often spent these afternoons gazing idly at my ceiling fan and thought of a million things, the warm breeze outside gently unsettling the curtains in the room. It’s as dull as it can get and time seems to expand in order to accommodate the lonely hours. Late afternoon sees clandestine lovers clog the parks for a few hours of solitude as the moral police, lacking any incentive to stir out on a hot day, stays put in their shakhas and police stations. Naughty kids, having waged an impossible battle against the never ending afternoons, finally come to their mothers’ arms and sail away to the land of sleep.
Summer is also the time for business. The Ice cream wallah makes umpteen rounds trying to tempt the not-sleeping children with his wares. The soda wallah and the gola-wallah follow close behind. Impatient kids who insist on playing gully cricket at 4 in the evening are their main clients. Worried mothers ply these kids with cold water, juices and even Electral to ensure that the malignant loo gives their kids the miss. Parks across North and East India are full of mango trees groaning under the weight of blossoms and unripe fruits. It is also lychee and bel season throughout Purvanchal and the ever blowing Purabiya breeze carries the sweet smell of the flowers to distant places.
The evening too shows many colours. The western sky turns a deep orange in North India as the dust settles after its day long dervish dance. In Hyderabad, it is rather sudden considering there isn’t much of a loo. The most dramatic has to be Calcutta. By four o clock, there are dark clouds to be seen. The breeze stops and it is suddenly very warm and sticky. A steady breeze picks up after an hour. This is the famous Kaal Baisakh. Lightning and thunder follow soon after and by seven, it is raining. Gusts of wind carry the rain through closed doors and bolted windows. The rain makes a pitter patter noise as the Kaal Baisakh howls through the alleyways. All is calm after 8 as people step out to shop, gingerly treading their way through the many puddles that dot Calcutta after the rains.
Summer nights are beautiful. The moon trails across a clear sky like a spent silver coin while you lie back and observe the stars and the constellations (and the occasional satellite). Those unfortunate enough to sleep indoors strip down to their shorts and pray that the load shedding babus spare them for the night. Tomorrow shall be another hot and unforgiving day.