Beating the Heat
Is Churu hotter than Jaipur? As the cities sizzle, people try to beat the heat in whichever way they can and sugarcane juice comes as a much needed relief.
Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Dr Santosh Bakaya. Enjoy her jottings with a hot cup of tea. 🙂
“Good morning! It is so scorchingly hot!” A neighbour was heading towards me, perspiring profusely, a proprietorial hand on his wobbly tummy. He sighed, plodding up to me, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead, turning to look behind, to see whether his wife was following him. No, she was not. She had abruptly stopped a few steps away from her house and now stood huffing and puffing, disoriented.
“I cannot walk any further, I will collapse due to this heat,” she shouted, waving an apologetic hand in our direction, and then vanished into the house, leaving her husband gaping and patting his wobbly stomach.
“I have just returned from my home Churu, it is sizzling there.” He offered this unsolicited information, a plump hand still on his tummy, which wobbled and wobbled, unfazed by the deterring power of the heat.
I had no intention of striking a conversation with a perspiring man, who was not at all embarrassed by the misdemeanour of his wobbly stomach, so I picked up speed. He did too and almost whispered in my ear, “In my colony in Churu, the roads were almost deserted, and water tankers from the local civic body were splashing water over the burning streets. Imagine! The temperature was more than 50 degree Celsius!”
“Oh! Why are you harping on Churu? Jaipur is only a few degrees less hot.” Another walker, clad in only a vest and pajamas, who was walking as though he had been cruelly shoved out of the house, remarked, putting a towel to his head.
“Before coming out, I had drenched this towel in a bucketful of water. It will of course, offer relief, only for a short time.” He said, patting the towel repeatedly on his forehead.
I suddenly recalled the time when I was a kid, and in the hot summer months, would empty three or four trays of ice in a bucket and have a bath with the ice-cold water. (The shenanigans of pampered brats!)
As I walked a little further, I was alarmed to find a huge crowd outside Dharmendra’s shack. The young man who sold eggs and parathas in winter months, along with his wife, had not been around for quite some time now, and now suddenly there was a crowd outside his tenement. I got panicky. What was up? Hope it was not the heat up to its villainy.
Suddenly the irritating milkman made his appearance, honking his way up to his shack, jumped down from his ramshackle Rajdoot motorcycle, to the accompaniment of the music of milk cans, elbowed the lesser earthlings out of the way, looked at me with the contempt that creepy crawlies deserve, (he had still not got over the rebuff at my hands) and bellowed, “Arey Dharmendra, ek glass mujhey bhi dey!”
Were they on a liquour binge early morning? Could liquour reduce this unimaginable heat? My unasked questions were soon answered as my eyes fell on a sugarcane machine in front of his shack.
“Abhi deta hoon,” he said, pulling a small plastic cup from the carton by his side, deftly maneuvered the sugarcane machine, coaxing it to fill the cup. “Yeh lo.” This was ‘Hema Malini’, oops, Dharmendra’s wife, who had just come out of her shack, beaming. She beamed a little more, as her eyes fell on me, quickly filled another cup and headed towards me.
Three dogs, lying on a mound of concrete, looking like wilted raisins, slowly raised their heads, almost drooling at the cup that I was offered. Before the idea of attacking the cup, could strike them, I struck!
Pouncing at the cup, with an alacrity that only the unimaginable heat could induce, I poured its soothing contents down my parched throat.
“My cousin has gone to his village, leaving his sugarcane machine with us for a month or so. We will share what we earn on a 50-50 basis.”
“Oh that is great!” I said, happy seeing the glow on Hema…oops.. Meena’s face.
“Ek aur cup dena.” The milkman demanded, looking at me from the corner of an angry eye.
“We are doing brisk business, madam,” Meena said with a huge smile.
As I turned back, I was surprised to see the man with the wobbly stomach standing in the queue along with his wife.
Yes, there was a queue now – a queue of thirsty souls.
“It is the hottest in the world today, yes Churu is. Imagine!” The man with the wobbly stomach was now telling the others, pride oozing from his sweating cheeks.
Allow me to correct myself, it was not pride, but sugarcane juice, mixed with the salt of his brow cascading down his cheeks to merge with the parched earth.
Watch this space for more Morning Meanderings every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed reading…
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