Heat and Dust

The above title immediately brings to mind Ivory Merchant movie of the same name released in 1983 that starred our very own dashing Shashi Kapoor with Julie Christie. The movie was based on Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s novel. While it had a complex romantic interludes with two plots running parallel, the title of the novel actually represented the climatic conditions of Indian hinterland – hot and dusty.

It’s been not very long, because I distinctly remember my childhood as also early adulthood, when heat and dust was very evident in cities, leave apart the hinterland. I distinctly recall my school summer vacations that were marred by extreme heat, hot winds called “Loo” blowing, dust storms in the evening bringing some relief. While going out was impossible as one risked being affected by sunstroke, staying indoor was equally agonising due to frequent power cuts. Nights were also muggy and much of the relief would come post midnight, before the morning sun heated up the things again. Bathing would be restricted to maximum a bucket, though on dry days with no supply, even that was a luxury.

We all talk about global warming, with average surface temperatures increasing by 1 to 1.5 degree Celsius. Each year, summers, though getting shorter, are creating new record of high maximum temperatures. Yesterday mercury touched 50 degrees in Churu, hitherto only West Asian deserts of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi experiencing such highs.

But if you ask me, where is the heat and where’s the dust? In Mumbai, we enjoy uninterrupted power supply with virtually zero cuts. Our economic affluence has enabled us to invest in ACs and coolers. So, our houses are air conditioned and so are our offices, cars and malls! I have rarely seen a dust storm afflicting Mumbai, though we do have stormy rainy days uprooting trees. Good societies in Mumbai have running water 24X7 and people can take bath multiple times in a tub or under the shower! If the heat becomes too unbearable, visit to cool environs of Switzerland is eminently affordable.

There’s no heat, no dust, no summers. If you want to experience heat and dust, sit in a time machine and go back to experience the summer of 69 ( not the famous song by Bryan Adams) of Delhi! The tag line of the famous movie , “in everyone’s life there’s a Summer of 42” sounds so romantic, unless you have seen and experience real heat and dust!

We are not experiencing summers, in spite of global warming, though we are definitely contributing to global warming through excessive use of electricity, potable water and AC!

4 thoughts on “Heat and Dust

  1. Rightly penned down Mr Arya….In earlier times what we used to call luxury then has become necessity now. An average middle class travels in ac three tier in train , has ac in his car , offcourse has both coolers and AC’s , So the intensity of heat has mellowed down with modern gadgetry because standard of living is on upward trend.


  2. Hello Sir, very well said. It is still the same situation in a large part of Rajasthan and surrounding areas. Our becoming ignorant and lesser concerned about the environment is going to further deteriorate the nature. An AC at home or in a car while keeping inside cool for us alone makes outside hot for many others.


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