Summer In Punjab
Updated: Jan 16
As I sit in my darkened room, stifled with heat, the constant 'whir' 'whir' 'whir' of the fan echoes through the darkness. It is still only Spring and yet it feels like an Australian Summer here in Punjab. At this time of year the electricity tends to go off every few minutes and the backup generator kicks in. Though it doesn't provide a strong enough source of electricity, leaving the ceiling fans to casually spin at half the rate making this awful whirring sound.
It doesn't leave much to do when the weather outside is horrendously hot, and the electricity goes off every few minutes. You can't simply watch your favourite television show unless you happen to have a laptop. If it weren't for having my laptop so that I can blog or stream movies occasionally I would be stir crazy.
This isn't the only issue faced with the electricity constantly going off, as the refrigerator happens to be one of the few appliances not connected to the backup generator, given it just doesn't have enough power. Which leaves absolutely no source of respite when you need to quench your thirst and there are no cool drinks or ice.
Drinking water in Punjab is collected from government supply sites and locals take home their drinking water in large tubs. This is where it is usually stored unless you have it connected to a cooling system. So there tends to be no cold water and even if you did store it in the fridge it would most likely be warm anyway.
The only respite I can get from the heat is in my bedroom, where I can lock the door and slip into some shorts and singlet which aren't appropriate to wear in public. Not even around your own home can a woman wear any clothing deemed to be revealing, although for my husband it is completely okay to walk around shirtless. When the weather is this unbearable it is completely insane that women have to still cover up in their Punjabi Suit and Dupatta.
I see my mother in law always exhausted on the couch trying to cool down under the single fan in the living room, whilst she is covered in her Punjabi Suit and Dupatta draped across her chest. Yet my father in law and husband are able to walk around the house in their shorts, shirtless. Whilst my mother in law and I both suffer in our suffocating attire in a bid to ensure we are fully covered and modest.
This time of year in Punjab is wheat harvest season, where all the wheat crops are ready to be harvested. For farmers this time of year is when they work the hardest, yet it is also the worst weather to be working in. There typically is no respite on crop lands during harvest time with fields of wheat as far as the eyes can see. I am sure this is the case for any farmer however, Punjabi Summers are much more extreme than anywhere else I have experienced. My father in law retired from the army to take up farming and he always comes home that exhausted he just nods off to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.
Whilst Southern India experiences Monsoon Weather, Northen India experiences the dry heat of a desert during Summer. There are no rains to cool the dry hot lands down, but rather an everlasting dry heat, with just enough humidity to make you feel wet all day long. I am unsure how any foreigner can live here during the Summer. Unless you have all the creature comforts such as air conditioning and a very powerful backup generator.
I am fortunate enough to have never experienced a Summer in Punjab as Spring is unbearable enough. This is the time of year that I tend to fly back home to Australia where I am welcomed by the frosty Winter's air. So whilst I am excited to be leaving the heat of India behind I am also sad to be leaving my husband behind. I fly home in only a couple of weeks and I wish that the weather were more tolerable so that I may enjoy my last days here.
Has anyone else experienced a Punjabi Summer?
Or are you like me and fly home?
I'd love to hear from you so leave your comments below in the comments field.