Monday, 12 December 2011

Summer Is Here.......Or Is It?

                           Nairobi skies are always gray,
                           The clouds,it seems,are here to stay.
                           Sweaters and jackets rule the day,
                           Summery Pune feels far away.
                           We're near the Equator,so they say,
                           If the sun shines,do make hay!

A Pune summer, that time of the year when the sun scorches the earth,the throat is always parched,your clothes cling to you even as streams of sweat pour down your body,water cuts rule the day,the fan is never switched off and only the thought of the ever increasing electricity bill makes you switch off your air conditioners and coolers.
Summer in Pune also brings with it the sharp tang of mango blossoms which permeate the air everywhere,or at least it used to until about a decade ago, before most of the mango trees in and around Pune were chopped off in the name of development.Our housing colony was surrounded by mango groves and as school children not a day of the summer vacation went by without an early morning walk in the groves,following the silvery trails left by snails sometime during the night.We would rush home to a breakfast of what else,but mangoes,lovingly washed and peeled and chopped by our grandmother!The King of fruits made my sister and me feel like Queens throughout summer.Today,sadly, the space occupied by each mango tree has given way to apartment buildings and that is all my children can see....
When I got married and moved to Russia,I got a taste of a very different summer.After a long and bone chilling winter replete with ice and snow,the first thaw at just a few degrees above zero degree centigrade with a few weak sun rays,was greeted with much joy.People thronged beaches and river banks,stripping down to bare essentials, as they basked in the sun and their long deprived skin soaked up the warmth!All this while my husband and I still shivered under thick overcoats and fur caps to say nothing of fur lined leather boots and gloves.We must have seemed like fools to the local population but what could we do?For us the start of the Russian summer was very much like being in the thick of a severe Pune winter!
 Dar Es Salaam gave us our first taste of a summer in the Southern Hemisphere.What, till then, had just been a Geography lesson drilled into our heads by our school teacher,suddenly became a reality!A really hot December and a Christmas Day on which we drank chilled lime juice and not hot cocoa!Tanzania summers are hot and humid,very different from the ones we had experienced in Pune.The only respite from the heat and the long power cuts was an escape to the beach once in a while where at least we were fanned by cool breezes blowing across the Indian Ocean.The tang of mangoes had been replaced by a salty one!
Cut to Nairobi,we were once again below the Equator and once again a December summer awaited us,or so we thought!Now we are well into the month of December,the school summer break starts this week,but where on earth has summer disappeared?We are still huddling under thick blankets at night,the children still burrow into their jackets each morning as they wait for the school bus and we never leave the house without an umbrella as the heavens might open and pour down on us anytime!
Agreed,Nairobi is a no fan station,as Pune was till the late seventies.Thus we have no fans or air conditioners in our house here but will we even get a glimpse of the ever elusive sun?After all,what's summer without the sun, an icecream cone in your hand and a summer hat on your head?

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