Oh no. This again. On Game of Thrones, the Starks have a saying: “Winter is coming”. In Mumbai, we have a similar saying: “I think those Starks have gotten heat-stroke because they keep babbling about some rubbish season that doesn’t exist. I told them not to go out in the afternoon.” Every year Mumbai gets a nominal cool season in which our temperature drops to “Won’t dehydrate immediately” degrees Celsius. This season lasts for three hours, out of which two are really just us pretending. And then one morning you hear the birds chirping and you throw open your window to find that it’s actually birds screaming as they melt on to the branches they landed on. Because summer is back to claim its throne as demon tormentor of this city.
The Mumbai summer is all about fluids. You must drink a lot of them so you can leak a lot of them. File pic
If you’ve noticed, Americans and Europeans write most of the happy songs about summer. There has never been a Mumbai summer song, partly because you can’t sing when you’re dehydrated and on fire, but mostly because nobody has ever looked at a Mumbai summer and thought happy things. If Shaggy were Indian, his albums would just an hour of sentences like “Ugh, it’s still only March” muttered under the breath, followed by two bonus tracks of an uncle scratching his heat rash-addled chest through his shirt.
The Mumbai summer is all about fluids. You must drink a lot of them so you can leak a lot of them. In the Mumbai summer, you leak fluids through every pore. Fluids get in your eye, in your armpit, and in your groin. Mumbai in summer is where crotch-itch creams come to make it big and strike gold. Unfortunately, summer in Mumbai is also about a lack of fluids. They’re called water cuts.
However, some people wisely choose to escape the Mumbai heat by going on holiday to places like Goa, where you can enjoy the exact same heat, but at least you can get fleeced by cabbies and make foreign women uncomfortable while you do it, which really takes the edge off. I heartily recommend Goa to anyone who hasn’t been, because it’s full of spectacular food, well-priced alcohol, and some staggering sights. My favourite monument in Goa is the Old White Person, which when viewed in a certain kind of light, exhibits a peculiar phenomenon where it bypasses the brown tan stage and goes straight to spectacular pink. Like the Taj Mahal at sunrise, it’s a sight everyone should see at least once before they die.
However, ever the optimist, I believe that the Mumbai summer has a purpose, aside from making us all wish we were dead. The thing is, four months after it begins, summer gives way to the Mumbai monsoon, which is traumatic in its own right, by all accounts. Everything floods, productivity plunges, there’s stagnant water everywhere, traffic is the devil, it’s terrible. If it snuck up on us after a mild summer, we’d have a nervous breakdown every time it arrived. So I think the Mumbai summer exists to make the Mumbai monsoon look good, look desirable. Our summer is the annoying wingman who makes monsoon look like the cute guy you’d rather hang out with. How else do you explain heat so fetid that we even welcome being drowned, so long as we’re rid of it?
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi