Hot Hot Hot !!


When all we desis talk of missing India and being home-sick, I don’t think we really had the Indian summer in mind, but somehow may be God thought he would be nice to us and try to replicate some Indian weather here in North America and brought on us this horribly hot summer. When we’ve waited all winter for it to get warm, so we could pretend to be outdoorsy people, we are welcomed by this sweltering heat. At least the local folks here, seem to enjoy sun bathing and putting on a tan, but for us folks from the Indian subcontinent, putting on a tan makes us go from looking brown to looking like unappetizing brownies. Becoming brownie aside, there are a few other inconveniences I have to deal with. 

The grass – The heat is killing the grass. We were away for about 4 days. Once we got back, our somewhat green grass had turned brown and crunchy. You might think I am overly attached to my lawn, but if you had been in my shoes last summer, you’d understand. This leads me into a somewhat unconnected discussion, but it makes for good talking anyway, so let me explain what we did last year. It was our first summer in the new single family home. The front yard lawn suddenly start balding in patches. After some serious “nachchufying” (banter) from me, my husband looked up the internet for what we needed to do to the lawn. Somebody said we should overseed it, so he went to Menards, bought a bag of lawn seed that was on sale and spread it around. It took a good month or so, before stuff started sprouting, and boy what a mess that was. He had bought some different kind of seed. This new variety of grass, lighter green, thinner, taller grass that grew faster than the rest of the lawn started sprouting all over the place. The lawn would look good for about 8 hours immediately after mowing, but by the next morning, the bright green tall grass would be all over the place. Ugh! Walking around the neighbourhood made me want to run a bulldozer over our lawn, it looked horrible. It went from looking like a balding 40-year-old to a 40-year-old hippie. I couldn’t figure out which was better, but both were definitely bad! So this year, after having shelled out a lot of money to a landscaping company so they’d save our lawn from our experiments, I was temporarily relieved to see it nice and green before the 4 days of heat that almost killed it. Now Mr. Baldy is back 😦 

Having a 5-year-old in the house through summer is very hard. Yes, I love my daughter, but she is not easy to entertain, if you take away TV. Having to keep her in the house and postponing the time she can run out of the house because of the heat is no joke. I kind of feel bad for her though, that here she waits for warm weather, and just as it gets here, I am already telling her it’s too hard to go out.

It is kind of amusing that I crib so much about this summer, because I’ve seen a lot worse in India. I’ve lived in Hyderabad, where the heat is so bad, you’d not want to touch the walls. We’ve poured water on the terrace to cool the house down, we’ve poured water inside the house, to cool the floors down, we’ve used air coolers, and desert coolers. We’ve dealt with regular power cuts by sitting in the dark on a pile of sand outside our house and playing antakshari with the neighbours. Those were fun times, at least I learnt the first 2 lines of a 1000 songs without knowing any more than that. I’ve also dealt with the heat in Chennai. It has to be the place that disproves that famous saying “Success is 10% inspiration 90% perspiration!”. Surely, if that was true, people in Chennai must have to be the most successful in the world! It’s that place which makes you re-consider the reasons for bathing – do you really need to bathe so you can generate fresh sweat, or do you need to bathe so you can wash of old sweat?

So, when the mamas and mamis coming from India remark “Chicago romba kuloor nu sonnaa, inga vandhu partha Madrasae thevalai polarke!”, I don’t really know what to say! 😐

Happy Summer you’all!


Post Holiday Dysfunction Disorder

Ever heard of PHDD? I am sure you never have. It is nothing but Post Holiday Dysfunction Disorder! In this country (which would mean the United States), there is so much emphasis on the holidays (a.k.a Christmas and New Year), that once it has passed, the resulting void in ones life, that of having nothing to wait for during a bleak and cold winter is quite unbearable. Especially when, you have just been spoilt by almost 10 days of vacation/working from home, a 2 day weekend suddenly feels unacceptable, unqualifiable as a weekend, in fact my last weekend was spent sulking in denial that it was not weekend enough for me to enjoy.

At work, everything almost comes to a stop during the holidays, but people know that work will come poring in after New year to make up for the last 2 weeks of near-zero activity, and that usually helps people bounce back from the holiday mood. In my case however, things have been dull over the past 2 weeks – my client fell sick and hasn’t come to work. So I am spending useful billable time, wallowing in sorrow over the slow pace of my work life.

So, what is the big deal about these holidays? In India, I’ve never really missed the absence of a 10 day vacation. Perhaps, it is because the Hindu calendar has it’s holidays much better distributed. Every now and then, there will be a festival to celebrate. In schools, there will also be festivals that you don’t necessarily celebrate like a few Ids, Mahavir Jayanthi, etc.. In addition to that, growing up in a highly volatile place like Hyderabad, we were often subject to more unexpected holidays in the form of PWG bandhs, Naxalite bandhs, Opposition party bandhs, Ruling party bandhs… you get the general idea? So one never really had to look forward to holidays, they would just come and go and were enjoyed where they were deserved or observed where they weren’t. In fact, I’ve never really even waited for a weekend as much as I do here. It’s not like I was not busy there, yet, somehow I don’t think I burnt myself out during the week as much as I seem to do here. I spend 2 hours a day driving back and forth to work. It’s a whole different matter, what my time there is spent doing, but it’s enough if everyone knows that I don’t lift sacks of grain and carry it on my back all day long. Yet, it seems like 9 hours of sleep is insufficient and 24 hours in a day is way to less to get things done at home and work. So quite obviously, 2 days a week for a weekend is just not enough to unwind, then relax and then gear up for the next week.

Darn.. I just can’t put my finger on the problem here.. Umph!

Winter Woes

In India, especially in Chennai, one dreams of a cool day or a cold night. A day when you need not walk out of a bath and feel it was pointless, a day when you can walk the roads without squinting at the un-pardoning sun or care about the browning or blacking (depending on your original color) of exposed skin, a night when you can have a romantic candlelight dinner by a fireplace(unimaginable), a month when you feel like you haven’t written off your hard-earned money to the Madras Electricity board (thanks to the all-consuming A/C unit).  Above all, one could dream to see snow, a frozen ‘Koovam Nadhi’, dusty roadside pavements camouflaged by an inch or two of white clean(looking) snow, icicles hanging from the 8 or 9 floors of Saravana stores buildings in T.Nagar, Somasundaram ground becoming a massive ice-skating rink, etc… etc..

Being in Chicago, and that too in December, I would gladly endure a sweaty, scorching, bright and sunny day. Well, I am sure all you folks in Chennai are saying, ha! Seriously you would definitely understand my position if you had slipped on black ice and all 190 lbs of you had landed with a thud right outside the garage.

The truth is, snow is beautiful for a day and then it becomes dangerous. Getting out of the house entails a 15 minute process of locating the appropriate jacket for the day, bundling up in sweaters, scarves, jackets, gloves, socks and boots. Then you open the garage and find that the snow has to be ploughed. If you are unluckier, it could be ice, because let’s face it – it is denser and thicker and harder than snow and much tougher to plough. If you are unluckier still and don’t have a garage, you are also faced with the 20 minute rigmarole of having to ‘transparentize’ all the opaqued transparent parts in your car, and if you are car is an obsolete model that does not have key-less entry, you might have to de-ice the key-hole to even get your car started. All of this to just get out of the house.

Then of course, in a moment of carelessness or haste, you might just slip on ice and land on your back. Still worse you could hit your head and go through several months of hospital visitation (like my friend once did) to rectify your brain. In Chicago, the windy city, which is rightly called so, the wind tests the success of all the ice-cream, oil, ghee and fattening agents that you have consumed all year, by trying to get past all your layers of fat to chill you to the bone. In that way, I should consider myself rather lucky, for I have not one year but several years of fat to my defense. After all the time spent in getting ready to head out, you try to hurry to work, but further frustrated by all the accidents on the road caused by careless travellers driving before you.

So you start the day ‘lucklessly’ so, manage to get to work or wherever, do your thing during the day, and before you look out of the window twice, you see it’s already dark because it is already 3:30 p.m and then drive back in the dark through miles of traffic to a home which could have been warmer no matter how high the thermostat is set at.

For all this and more, welcome to Chicago during the winter. But hey, don’t be disillusioned. There are better things during winter. Christmas lighting and Christmas cheer at least gets us all past New Year, then it’s back to waiting for spring which will also bring our parents here from India.