April is a month notorious for heat in Pune and some parts of central India. It’s a dry dusty hot period with barely any breeze in the day time as the day temperatures may reach or even cross 40 degrees Celcius. For students, its exam time and constant studying (or reminders to do so by overambitious mommas) must surely add to the heat!
Its also a month that offers several tremendous joy. The still-raw mangoes (called kairi) on the trees irresistibly attract kids to stones to try to get them to fall to the ground. No other shop-bought, thoroughly cleaned kairi would taste half as divine as one such covered a pinch of salt and chilli powder.
The tremendous heat is sapping and most homes have chilled ‘kairi panha’ ready to rehydrate and refresh us. Drinking water is cooled in black earthen pots that contain ‘vala’. And to top it all the mogra trees bloom profusely and its intoxicating fragrance will overpower one and all. Women string the flowers into ‘gajra’ and wear them in their hair. In the good old days when air-conditioners were not heard of, people slept on terraces at night, right under the stars during summers. Mattresses are laid out, mosquito nets strung up and the entire family can sleep in the wonderfully cool night that’s such a contrast from the raging heat of the day. Watching the twinkling stars or the distant lights of some aircraft as it zoomed on its journey is unforgettable.
These stand out from my memories of my childhood as the mercury relentlessly climbs to the Forty Degree Celcius mark and possibly higher, but I am not complaining...