Come September



Come September

Goodbye 44 degrees Celsius; Goodbye 100% humidity. Summer is finally leaving. As I open the door to my balcony I am brushed by a cool breeze from the Shivalik Hills right in front of me. I can see a grayish glow as the Sun yawns awake still lingering in its bed hidden behind the cool hills. The Sun will soon march in like an energetic Sergeant or more rightly like our dynamic world travelling Prime Minister Mr. Narendera Modi (right now again in the US after visiting  Ireland), checking the arrangements for its grand entry. The Monsoon clouds have departed fizzled out this year by El Nino. They had really taken the fizz out of the Sun’s strutting. At least for fifty days the Sun was smothered by a thick blanket of kidnapping clouds.

As I descend for my morning walk I check my mailbox. Summer gives a last kick in the teeth. The electricity bill is here. We have to pay the piper now for using the air-conditioning so liberally. Like the stray dogs on the road I want to bite some Electricity departmental leg. They have added a cess of Rs. 3000 that is about 50 dollars. Dictatorial as usual. Oh I really want to be away from these undemocratic bossy strutting neighbors and environ. Perhaps my current read, ‘Travels with Charley’ by Steinbeck is getting to me.

I have yet to see the first sleeveless sweater or the first windcheater. Most probably it will be a motorcyclist off to work protecting himself from the chill. At home I am still wearing well worn-out T-shirts with holes and faded cotton pants cut into shorts.  At last with the cooling weather I will be able to wear my good clothes. I have survived the sticky weather dressed like a hobo.

It’s quieter but the birds are becoming chirpier. They are enjoying the weather too. People have started coming out of their air conditioned or air-cooled rooms to stare with new eyes at the world in milder and welcoming dawns and dusks. Soon the ceiling fans will stop whirling and the air-conditioners stop buzzing from windows.  Sounds that were smothered by the air-conditioner’s whirring will now be audible. I leave windows open and the fresh cool breeze that wafts in is like a scented elixir. This is the time to travel in India.

The festival bonanza is going to begin next month. It is as crazy as Christmas in the west and culminates with Diwali. Two and a half months of cool bliss before the freeze sets in at the end of December. The Navratra fasts will be soon upon us. Eight or nine days of fasting but a fasting which allows many vegetarian things like potatoes, bananas (prices shoot up) and esoteric fried concoctions of a religious kind. Even the hardened chicken and mutton eaters give their canine teeth a rest and whimper before the TV. No alcohol for these hell-bound meat eaters too. Restaurants innovate with vegetarian combos. Some people actually gain weight during these fasting days. Then the festival season is upon us and people spend money like crazy.

Come September let me bid you, ‘Goodbye September,’ will wait for you eagerly next year.

Watermelons Anyone?


watermelon seller on roadside

watering mouth watermelons

The months of May and June in Chandigarh  see the arrival of truckloads of watermelons from Rajasthan, UP and other states. The water melon seller parks himself with family on the roadside for the entire season and sells this juicy fruit at approximately a dollar for three kilos. The ones you see here weigh about five to six kilos. So with bargaining you can get a good watermelon for a hundred rupees. Right now there must be a hundred such watermelon sellers all over the Tricity of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

Monsoon clouds sound the death knell for watermelons because they get juicy and sweet in hot temperatures only; also with the rains the desire to have watermelons disappears much to the disappointment of the sellers.