All 7 people who’ve been tested for Swine flu in India so far have tested negative. Yet this is the most discussed issue in the country apart from IPL and the general elections. I witnessed one such discussion this weekend at a friend’s house. There is no result expected from such discussions as most people airing their views are neither doctors nor patients. Most of their knowledge about the disease is the result of media reports and internet surfing. However yesterday’s discussion had a light end because with temperatures touching 43.5 degrees centigrade making it difficult for humans to survive, the virus should certainly find it difficult to multiply.
This was the beginning of a series of positive thoughts about Delhi and its summers in my mind. Ordinarily when people talk about missing Delhi and its weather they talk about winters in Delhi. The conversation starts with food, the gulab jamuns, gajar ka halwa, makki ki roti and saag and the chikkis and ends up with enjoying the conversations in the sun in public parks which are in abundance in Delhi. Summer months are the time to pack up and move to colder areas, a reverse migration pattern compared to what is seen in birds. The birds happen to be an excellent highlight of summertime in Delhi.
For the last 6 or 7 days a koel has been singing all day long outside my window. The song starts before I wake up and stops around 5 pm, when the IPL matches begin. Actually I can’t be sure that the song has stopped, it’s very likely that my TV is just a lot louder than the little koel who doesn’t have the advantages of Dolby digital surround sound. My domestic help tells me that it is perched on the branches of the mango tree in the house next door. My dadi used to tell us that koels sing when there is aam ka bor (flowers of mango). It is too late for flowers on the mango tree, the shops are already full of mangoes so I guess global warming has changed the body clock of the poor birds. Forget about mango flowers, if winters boast of roses and dahlias and chrysanthemums there are the amaltas flowers (Cassia fistula), red and orange gulmohar (Delonix regia) and not to forget Blue Jacaranda. Then we have the belas, chamelis, mogras, harsingars (NYCTANTHUS), and rat ki ranis (Queen of the night) spreading their fragrances during the summer months.
And to come to think of it, it’s not unthinkable to enjoy summer food in Delhi either. Watermelons, different varities of mangoes, can’t enjoy them in any other weather. Thandai and kulfi is enjoyable only in North Indian summers. There was a movie called Kisi Se Na Kehna in which Saeed Jaffrey commented about the beauty of khus in the North and how silly it is to try and transpose this effect to humid Mumbai summers. I totally agree
To be very honest, airconditioned houses and cars are a great place to be when celebrating flowers, birds, food and summers