Seasons of my life

The last few months I lived through an actual climate fiction (called cli-fi) story.

We lived through a very hot summer. The temperatures reached levels where it felt like an air conditioner would be necessary to survive. We were tempted twice in the last few months to install an air conditioner. We may need it to survive the October heat.

We survived with an air cooler that was not working at its peak and that was not able to cool the room. It broke down twice. Once when my year-old son tugged the wire and broke it. Another time when it just gave up trying to cool the room.

We provided it with chunks of ice to support it on its mission. The general stores that sold ice for drinks repurposed it to be used in air coolers. We froze the ice on our own. We found that the air cooler had a provision to drop the ice inside the cooler.

I drove in the hottest part of the day twice (during emergencies) on my two-wheeler and realized how torturous the Sun was. It took me hours to recover on both occasions. My father faced a similar situation and then stopped me from going out in those hours.

We used curtains to block out the Sun and ran the air cooler for long hours during the day. An air that blew early in the morning provided some respite on certain days. When I read Venkatesh Rao’s Ribbonfarm studio post about why solar punk makes sense for people in temperate climates and not for people who come from equatorial or tropical climates made a lot more sense given this background. When I hear about solar, I can remember only these hot days survived with an air cooler. It does not give me a picture of living in harmony with nature.

The hot sunny days were punctured by rain on a few days. The surroundings grew dark, the winds died down, and the rain would pour for a few minutes to an hour. I realized how little I look up at the sky nowadays.

The frequency of rains grew through the end of May and early June. The anticipation for rain grew. People cursed these short-duration rains because the rains raised the temperature thereafter.

The rains were cursed by city folks as soon as it started raining. This was because it flooded the over-built roads. Human construction did not give water anywhere to go, so the water just stayed on the roads.

There were several reports of water logging on the roads that I normally take to work. I took the road that was least likely to get waterlogged because it was older. Older roads tend to have drainage that is either human-built or natural.

An old road that I had used flooded because it was rebuilt with concrete. It had a wide human-built drainage ditch on both sides. But they forgot to link it to the road so that the water from the road would flow into the ditches. This meant that they had to find and physically open the hatches that covered the ditches at great risk. When the water receded, workers were building temporary connections between the road and the roadside stormwater drainage.

Cal Newport writes in his book, Slow Productivity to plan your life in seasons. He uses the word seasons to mean human seasons of life and not the natural seasons. For India, I think natural seasons would make more sense.

I think monsoon is to get things done which can be done remotely or by having people visiting your home to get things done. Monsoon is the time to get home maintenance done. It is also for spending more time at home with a digital newspaper, cups of tea, and hot food. You still need to go out to get some things done. Getting wet is unavoidable. It is a time to let my children enjoy the rain.

The monsoons are days of trouble to get your clothes dried after washing. The lifts have already stopped working because the water leaks through its roof and has flooded the basement. There are heavy winds that rattle our windows, shut our doors, and leak through the bedroom walls. The solar water heater does not do its work all the time. This makes us rely on the water heater in the bathroom.

The rain brings relief from the relentless heat of the summer. It transforms the ghats near me from dry plants and grass, rocks seem to trap the heat or reflect the Sun into green plants and grass and water plays off the rocks.

The monsoons are also a time to hunker down. I feel the need to protect my office bag with an extra layer of rain cover. I feel the need to carry extra footwear. I feel the need to add a layer of protection for electronics from the thunder and lightning. I try to avoid going out unless necessary.

The monsoons which have their source to the seas connect land and sea. When we lived in Mumbai where the sea was right there, I did not see the connection. Now, living on the leeward side of the ghats, the monsoons bring the sea closer to you. It reminds you of the seas.

The hills were once your refuge from the heat. But climate change has meant that there was not much of a difference between the hills and the plains. You need to go higher to get the same cold that you got at lower altitudes earlier. People are now going to the mountains that you could once get by going to the hills.

I wrote about the weather today because I did not have much else to write about. I did not know that I was so affected by the climate. If you think about it, you will realize that climate change has more of an impact on your life than you think. For now, I am enjoying the rain, the humidity, and the heat of the days.

June 10, 2024