Parched and exhausted, the heat in Bangalore this summer seems to be getting under everybody’s dry skin. Catherine Rhea Roy listens in while Bangaloreans vent.
It rained the other evening and like a woman pathetically in love with an erring lover all was forgotten – the oppressive heat, the elusive shower – and all it took was a smattering of rain. The fresh rays of sun that filtered through the cool lasted only for a slice of the morning, but in that time we were closer to the Bangalore of a bygone era, to the garden city known for her weather.
Bangalore weather, it was like saying Darjeeling tea or Kanchipuram sari – Bangalore had great weather. It was our trump card when Mumbai could stay up all night and Delhi had an expansive, effective Metro system in place and Hyderabad had biryani and pearls, Bangalore had great weather.
“My childhood summers in Bangalore were never about the heat, but about exquisite outdoor activities and adventures. This year I cannot believe I spend so much time fretting about the heat. As a documentary film maker so much of our work is outdoors and it is really tough to work with this kind of heat especially when you do not associate your city with it,” laments Bangalore bred Pavitra Chalam, but she is optimistic about the April showers for herself and her dog who seems to share her thoughts.
Welcome to the Ooru 2013, the city where the sun is fierce and unrelenting, that burns the earth and scorches everything to cinder. B. Puttanna, Director-in-charge of the Bangalore Meteorological Centre offers no relief, “The weather is not alarming, 34 degrees should be considered normal or next to normal – a heat wave is only when the temperatures go above normal by five to six degrees. In the coming weeks, days will get longer and there will be more incoming solar radiation so the temperature is bound to go up.”
Puttanna senses despair on the other end of the phone and brings up the showers, “There was rain yesterday. And we can expect more rain in the coming months. You should check on the website, 48 hours before we give weather predictions.”
He goes on to give me technicalities about climate control, how far away we are from the equator, cloud coverage, wind speed.. And I interrupt, “But what about the weather Bangalore was known for?” He quashes the nostalgia with one word, “Urbanisation. There is lesser tree cover, no shade, pollution, cement jungles….”
“You want my thoughts on the changing weather in Bangalore? I have lived in Bangalore for five decades may be six, I forget, and this summer I invested in an air conditioner, I think that’s enough said,” says Paul, who moved to the city for college in the 60’s and never left.
The heat does damage to the skin, but doctors say that they have not seen a drastic increase in cases of sun allergies or sunburn. Avoid the sun and if you cannot do that, keep hydrated, use sun block, wear loose fitting clothes, the advice is all the same. Dr. Sujaya Hegde says, “It is very dry and hot and that makes it uncomfortable to work or even get out of the house.” For people who have lived in Bangalore all their life, the weather is a shocker, “I have never had such a high maintenance summer as this. My jeans are packed away and I have set aside 30 rupees for my daily dose of tender coconut. Stepping out between 11 and three in the day is impossible,” says Neha, who has no hope for May but reserves her expectations for June, “It always used to be that whenever it go too hot in the past there would surely be showers, that has been true this year also but with so much less frequency.”
Avid about baking, she adds as an after thought, “I haven’t been able to bake because of the heat – the kitchen is hot and the oven makes it hotter.”
However, those who moved in recently or are here on short notice still seem to prefer the dry Bangalore heat as compared to the sweaty, sultry humidity of Mumbai or Chennai. Nikhil Chalakal, a consultant who moved to Bangalore three years ago says, “Yes, over the past three years it has become progressively hotter. This summer is so bad that it seems like one cannot survive without an air conditioner.”
Nikhil who moved to Bangalore from Mumbai says the weather in Bangalore was one of the reasons for moving to the city and he does not want to complain. “The weather is good for the other eight months. It is just these four months where you want to pull your hair out.”
This is a long pending obituary of the weather we used to know, of cycling in parks and summer holidays spent in outdoors. It is no longer a friendly sunshine and it seems to be going off the charts but there is hope and like always it is only another shower till Bangalore is back on track.