Yesterday, I just learned, was the hottest day we’ve had in the last decade. It sure felt like it. My kickboxing class has moved outdoors and yesterday when I couldn’t hold a plank because my forearms kept slipping, I realised my arms and legs too were pouring sweat form every pore. I walked out at the end of class looking and feeling like someone had emptied a couple of buckets of water over me.
I like tropical weather because I’m not very good with cooler climes at all. So this weather is much more suited to my natural state of equilibrium. Except I’m increasingly realising that somewhere the balance is tipping. With every summer getting hotter than before I’m beginning to wonder just how much worse this can get. This year we’ve really felt the effects of stripped green-cover, vast areas of mushrooming construction and the temperatures this year have already broken several records.
Despite having faced five Goan summers and five hot Octobers, my memory for this kind of oppressive heat seems short. Summer comes and goes, and by October I am suffering all over again, like by body and mind has no memory of the summer just gone by, so it can accustom itself to it, to some measure. When October ends and the temperatures drop ever so gently, I behave like I’m being graced by winter, and it makes me forget the wretched climes we’ve just waved away. By summer, my memory is wiped clean, and the misery begins all over again.
October heat is a special variety of heat. It always feels like the most intense, hotly hot and painfully strong rays of the sun are saved up for this time of year. The light and heat doesn’t slant down on us gently baking us to a crisp, so much as hit us directly, straight down, which makes it feel like you’re in an overheated oven at all time. Burning to a crisp, faster than you know. Afternoon light hurts the eyes, staying out in the sun is physically painful, and most days end in exhaustion from not really doing much at all but just sitting in the heat.
As the day grows older, our house gets impossibly hotter. The oven that is my home (top floor, high ceiling, west facing — all the worst things) was hot enough to bake a something nice if I had just set it on my dining table long enough. It’s not too bad until noon, but after that it begins to get physically uncomfortable to stay indoors and I have been cooking up reasons to get out in the evenings, only to come back in time to slip into the artificially cooled interiors of my bedroom.
I’ve become slightly obsessed with tracking the weather. Because its been so erratic and unpredictable, for one. And also because I totally feel overpowered by it, here in Goa. Doing outdoorsy things means checking how hot its going to be. Picking a dinner place means thinking extra hard for a place that’s good for dinner and is air-conditioned. Going out to work in a cafe means planning it at a time of day when I’m not going to spend my time fighting exhaustion from just being outdoors.
Yesterday really did feel like the hottest day in a while, and despite not having any plans, we set out for dinner in another attempt to escape the heat that was getting impossible to bear. Over dinner I told VC that I’d really like to pick a place that has a real winter, for our next move.
He nearly choked on his thai chicken.
I’m the joker who goes to Delhi in October and worries about not having enough warm clothes. A few visits there in the months approaching winter, I found myself bundled in layers and layers of clothes, and still feeling miserable when I have to take my pants off and sit on a cold pot, for example. Or I have to brush my teeth before I go to bed. Or like when I was at a winter wedding, dressed in all my finery, only to cover it all up in a thick brown shawl. We’ve put off a trip to Leh for years on end now because I wonder if I will be that odd case that will go all the way and just not be able to do anything because even the slightest dip in temperatures has a debilitating effect on me. Living in a hot tropical beach town doesn’t help. It’s weaned me off even the pleasant Bangalore winter, and last year when I visited home in December, I roamed about my house in a sweater and socks.
But like I said that inner equilibrium seems to have tipped. Something has shifted, and I am tired of feeling constantly sweaty and exhausted from just not doing much. So much energy is spent in just tiding through the day, I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had a job that was physically strenuous. This year I clutched on to the delayed and weaker-than-usual monsoon we had, and I realise I love the break from the heat. When August ends and the heat starts spiking again, I begin to dread October. It’s a generally unproductive time, everything around me seems parched and everybody unfiromly has the same complain on their lips — want this month to be over already!
In all these years in Goa, the heat hasn’t affected me so deeply as it did this year. I see pictures of autumn leaves, signs of cooler weather, thick sweaters, woolen caps and food blogs about pumpkin soup and the like and my heart aches for some cooler weather. Like I told VC last night, being subjected to hot weather 10 months of the year is pretty life-altering. I own no winter clothes. I barely ever wear jeans. I love soup, but cannot get myself to cook and consume it often enough. We think and re-think holidays depending on how similar or different the weather will be compared to home. We give up on so many little things we want to do on an every day basis, with a casual oh, it’s too hot for that today.
It’s clear I hate this time of year even more than summer. It really does feel like the collective intnsity of four months of summer is sort of squished into this single month. I hate it with a vengeance. There’s just one thing I love about October in Goa. And it’s the October skies.
Four out of five days put up a spectacular show. Sunsets are distractingly gorgeous and unnaturally bright and beautiful. It’s like natures way of fooling you into thinking there’s something beautiful about the day gone by. I’ve fallen for this only too many times.
I’d really like the next place we live in to be one that has a good variety of weather. A solid few months of cooler weather would be such a welcome change. I want to be able to bundle myself up in sweaters, drink soup and take walks without sweating. October skies would only just be a welcome bonus.