There was a time in my childhood when I vowed I would never live in a place that is as hot as Madras. In May, the walls would radiate heat, and my father would insist that I sleep on a mattress while I would yearn to lie on the cool cemented floor of my ancestral house. When I got admission to go to Syracuse, my relatives from America pitied me for going to a cold cold place and I thought “oh, it must be such a relief to be away from hot hot Madras, even if briefly”.
I totally enjoyed my first winter up until February, in Syracuse. And then I realised that cold could be just as irritating as hot, if not more so. I was disappointed at myself for being the mediocre person who could only tolerate moderation in everything. And then after hither-thithering, I was back in my home town. In my first summer back home, it was hot, but not as hot as I remembered it. Was it that my hypothalamus became more sluggish with age ?
I definitely think so. In the ten years that I have been here as an adult, I have made my peace with sun god. Yes, the unbelieveably humid, sweaty, migraine inducing sun god of our coastal city. I can immediately feel the difference in heat as I visit my husband’s hometown which is further inland, and thus not 4357% humid as Chennai is, in that my nostrils burn and I am dehydrated to the point of sunstroking no matter how much water I drink. Not that I don’t grumble about the humidty or heat or usualy both – I do, nonstop. But secretly, I would much rather have the heat to the nose-numbing, muscle pulling cold of elsewhere.
Yes most people don’t agree with me. “There is no limit to the number of clothes you can wear to ward off the cold, but there is a limit to the number of clothes you can take off to cool yourself” is a common refrain. But the joy of tender coconut water, afternoon curd rice with vadumangai, all types of mangoes, water melons and icecreams, not to mention pool dips and beach visits balance (if not outweigh) the pains and itchy prickley heat of summer. And the flowers. Let’s not forget the flowers, the fragrant jasmine, the chmapangis, the hibiscus flowers…..
My kid’s hypothalamus however does not agree with me. The following cartoon drawn by my daughter last summer, sums up our internal dynamics w.r.t. to our approach to the hot season!