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Delhi simmers in summer saute

May 26, 2010 16:00 IST
The sky is pale and the earth is feverish; disappointing both poets and non-poets alike. At 45.c, Delhittes are flinching to step out of the house.

Doctors in the city have witnessed a steep increase in heat-inflicted ailments. People complain of heatboils, heatstroke and a range of stomach problems. "I diagnose 40-50 patients every day exhibiting symptoms of heatstroke like dehydration, high fever, appetite loss, weakness and exhaustion", says pediatrician and physician, Dr. Bimal Kapoor. She has strictly advised her patients not to indulge in street food to avoid stomach problems.

Amongst the worst-hit are Class X and Class XII grade students, who have extra classes to attend till noon.

"By the time I reach home around 2 pm, I almost collapse. The weather makes it hard for me to concentrate. Evening tuitions makes it worse," says Anika, Class X11 student of Salwan Public School.

Humans are not the only ones being affected. The plants in central Park at Cannaught Place are 'falling ill' according to the local gardener Ramesh. "Sunflowers and a few other potted plants are wilting inspite of being heat tolerant. I water them every day, in fact I've begun to water them twice a day", he stated, glumly pointing at a bed of dried leaves.

It is painful to commute in the blistering heat especially when passengers hurl themselves in the tightly packed metro coaches. A lot of them board the train to stay in the air-conditioned and metro stations. Metro officials observe an increase in traffic every year during this season. The autorickshaw drivers on the other hand hike tariff on the pretext of driving in the brutal heat.

Not everyone is 'suffering' though.

The real beneficiaries of the heat period are the ice-cream vendors and local banta-walla's. "I wait for summers every year to make some decent money. It is the time of the year when are sales steep by 300%. I manage to sell forty to fifty ice-creams every day ", smirks Bhushan, an ice-cream vendor outside Pallika Bazar.

"I distract myself from thinking about inhospitable weather. It is my job to quench their thirst, how can I detest summers when it funds my living", says Prakash, wringing out fresh lime soda with a glint in his eyes.

Agree rickshaw-pullers, air conditioning servicemen and soft-drink manufacturers, who sustain their livelihood literally under the sun. 

According to Metrological Department there's some time for Delhi to be blessed by rains. Till then suffering continues. The inscrutable pain can be summarized in 4-year old Riya's words, "Why can't I get to eat mangoes and watermelons in winters. Who needs summers after all."

Image: Braving scorching sun, a child takes a shower near a broken pipeline in New Delhi.

Photograph: Reuters

Anisha Ralhan in New Delhi