Ceiling fans are running full blast, rearranging the hot air, and I’m wondering if the a/c man, promised a week ago, will ever turn up. Outside a security guard moves his chair deeper into the shade and takes another swig from his water bottle and I wonder how most of the millions who live in this teeming city without air conditioning survive. It’s been over 40C most days for the last two weeks and at this stage my body seems to be one constantly pouring sweat gland and my digestive system is refusing to function at all in daylight hours.
Despite the heat we occasionally stagger out using taxis, metro and kind friends, attempting to find places with air conditioning to disport ourselves. The Craft Musuem comes under that heading in theory. Although the working demonstrations in the open air have sensibly ceased until after the monsoon the galleries are still open and there are some stunning pieces on display. Much to my chagrin I find the reference textile collection just as it is time to go home. I hope my health holds up and the weather cools off so that I can revisit it when we return to Delhi next week. The textile museum is also home to our favorite Delhi restaurant which offers a strong challenge to the marvelous Indian Essence in terms of food quality, at a tenth of the price.
But to return to the topic of cooling. Presumably to help conserve the collection the Craft Museum uses big water coolers, delightful in the dry heat. But it is hard to get the full benefit because each is turned sideways onto a staff chair. I’m not cribbing – if I worked there one would be turned onto my chair, but it is entertaining when the pattern dawns. Anyway it keeps the temperature down to a point where we can identify the table brought home after WW2 by Michael’s father as Gujerati thanks to the beautifully rebuilt haveli from that area. I’ve tried to find a good English word to translate haveli but we haven’t really had the concept for several centuries.
Pause for rose petal sherbet.
Hydration is part of the problem at this temperature, along with replacing salts. Another, only recently discovered by Swiss scientists, is that in very hot weather gastro enteritis gets followed a week later by irritable bowel syndrome. So you think you are over it and then the fun begins. And of course that dehydrates you too. The locals deal with it with lassi, the lovely probiotic yoghurt drink that is a meal in itself, and nimbu panne, made from lime juice, water, sugar and salt. The local salt tastes foul and sulphurous, but I’m told it is good for me.
(note to would be tourists, do not visit Delhi this time of year unless you can afford to a) live in a luxury hotel and b) hire a full time air conditioned car and driver. Read Kipling for descriptions of summer without a/c)