Tuesday, July 12, 2011

India: It's Africa Hot

Sweat soaked cotton is not comfortable, especially when it's stuck to your flesh.

Cincinnati is thick in the middle of a heatwave so oppressive it will make you jump at the chance to sell your first born for some time in the air conditioning/shade/swimming pool/you name it.

Imagine not having the opportunity to seek that relief.

Two months ago I got my first taste of the year's brutal heat. Traipsing through India, we shunned fitted clothes and other fashionable forays for comfort. Birkenstocks, linens, ponytails: The Wardrobe of Delhi.

Heat has a way of making you forgo the rituals of looking hot.

During our travels, I even managed to be interviewed by a national reporter about how I was surviving the heat wave in Jaipur (it was 110*, compared to Tuesday's forecast of a paltry 94* in Cincinnati). My answer wasn't rocket science - shade, air conditioning and chilled water.

Everywhere we went - India Gate, Ghandi's memorial, the Taj Mahal - we'd see people collapsed beneath trees, under the shade of bicycle rickshaws and other shady spaces.

Kids playing cricket beneath an overpass. You know... because it's shady.

You quickly realize these people aren't lazy. They're battling heat exhaustion.

I mentioned in previous posts about India the battling feelings of appreciation and guilt that washed over me as we traveled the subcontinent. The extreme heat and some of these people's challenges to find relief was just one reason for this torn contradiction.

Block print makers in Jaipur. If you were this hot, you'd wear a crop top, too.

Here at home, I had a moment of shame yesterday when I complained about the too-cold air conditioning blowing in my office. Then I strolled to the ice/water dispenser in the break room.

How quickly we forget.

Today, when I look at the mercury - virtual or otherwise - I'm going to work really hard to think about the blessings I do have. The many access points I have to enjoy air conditioning. The free and easy-to-find sources for clean, icy water.

A cool, refreshing shower hindered not by my resources, but only time.

And I'm going to start digging out my half shirts.
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