Get ready for summer madness

Summer is here, more or less. The next 100 days will be hot and hotter. I live in North India where — as I think an Englishman wrote in the 18th century — it gets so hot that when stray dogs chase each other, they prefer to walk. I have vivid memories of the North Indian summers in the 1950s and 1960s. They were extraordinarily cruel. Then came the afforestation programmes surrounding Delhi with lakhs of trees. That changed things. Thus, before the trees grew fully, there used to be very massive dust storms. The Arabic word for them is khamsin. There would be hot winds that would gust at about 100kmph, fully laden with billions of tonnes of dust. The entire sky would turn black-brown and the sun would vanish behind the swirling muck.

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Dealing with the invasion of the idiots

About 30 years ago, while travelling on a train from Delhi to Chennai I was able to observe a very Indian phenomenon: all the six people sitting around me knew everything about everything. The total journey time was 36 hours of which 18 were spent sleeping. But the remaining 18 hours were available for incessant discussion on all subjects under the sun.

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Loud, louder, loudest

It’s often said there is an underlying unity in India’s huge diversity. We don’t agree on many things. But one of the few things that we do agree upon wholeheartedly is a strong preference for noise, the louder the better. Our diversity converges around extreme loudness. A few weekends ago this was brought home to me once again. Suddenly, quite out of the blue, a massive thumping of electronic music started up from behind our house. It’s a massive parking lot owned by a massive builder. It’s always full but not on weekends. So the builder has been renting it out to ‘events’ companies.

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To throw or not to throw….

Over the last 25 years our family has shrunk. But for some reason that I can’t explain, our house has grown from a two-bedroom thing with a large terrace to a five-bedroom thing with virtually no terrace. We only use one bedroom, however. The remaining four rooms are used as storerooms, because, well, they are there. But every now and then, the urge to clean up, especially when the weather is benign, comes upon us and we start looking for things we can discard or, because hope springs eternal, sell. But eventually all the effort results in nothing more than rearranging a lot of junk. It also involves severe emotional obstinacy on everyone’s part. Fights ensue. Sulks rule the day. In the end it’s the whiskey that provides much needed balm.

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