My husband and brother are golf partners and come Saturday they wake up at some unearthly hour, shine their precious clubs and drive off to the golf club in Delhi, like excited children making for the candy store.
Mostly, I encourage that bond. But of late, with the temperature touching a scorching 114 degrees Fahrenheit in June and still hovering around 100 degrees, I’ve been advising them to stay indoors and make do with watching the sport on TV. My well-meaning suggestion, however, is met with a somewhat offended response. How dare I let something as trivial as the weather cheat die-hard golfers out of a good game?
It’s now late afternoon, and as I write this they are both flat-out on their beds in their air-conditioned rooms, with no will to get up even for lunch. All I can say is, I told you so. Heat is exhausting – and sometimes deadly.
Delhi has, in the past month especially, suffered its fair share of intensely hot weather which, despite a few showers, shows no signs of abating yet. Rather, it gets worse right before the rains as the still air hangs heavy with moisture, making the sultry weather unbearable.
June was merciless and, so far, July is only marginally better. Parts of north India have witnessed the wrath of the mercury at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Residents of Varanasi, India’s temple city on the banks of the holy river, The Ganges, saw the hottest day last month, breaking a 10-year-record with 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
So now we wait for the monsoon to take some of the heat off, but, though it’s announced its arrival in north India, it’s far from a dramatic start, erratically making it’s feeble appearance every now and then.
But still we wait, for the anticipation of the monsoon is what makes the harsh summer somewhat endurable. And when it finally arrives it’s greeted with pure joy, though it does temporarily throw life in the cities out of gear – the roads get clogged and traffic becomes a nightmare, with some areas getting seriously flooded like the terrible Mumbai floods in 2005 in which more than a thousand people lost their lives.
Also, it’s more than just respite from the incredible heat that makes the monsoon such an awaited event, the southwest monsoon actually accounts for eighty per cent of the annual rainfall and, since approximately seventy per cent of India’s one billion people are in the agricultural sector, this affects the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. A bad monsoon can adversely affect agriculture thus the nation’s economy.
So important are these rains that India’s finance minister once asked the people to pray for a good monsoon so that it would affect the economy, though he also added that India needs to make its economic growth independent of the monsoon.
So I am praying, not only for a good monsoon but also for one that arrives and leaves at the right time, since that is equally important for the crops. India’s GDP is on a rise and I’d like it to stay that way so if it means appealing to the Rain Gods, then so be it.
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year – before it got really hot – Gopika Kaul explained why Indians love the rain. That post is here.