Friday, April 8, 2016

It's hot

Around here people don't say it's hot. "Hot climate" is what they call it and it's a hotness like no other. A barren hotness, a penetrating hotness, a draining hotness. I look forlornly at the bicycle I rode 60km a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't go across town in it now. 

Five to six AM is old men's time on the grounds. We (Thava, the farmer, and I) put on our sarongs and take a constitutional, a little bit fast, a little bit savoring the aromas of early morning flowers and leaves in whatever dampness there is. But there's not much. The farmer tries to teach me how to say eggs in Tamil. Quail eggs. Thava shakes my hand vigorously. "Nice! To see you this morning."

For once I envy the fishermen out on their early morning boats on the lagoon. If they can get the job done before the sun comes up, or at least before it's too high, all the better for them. They go out into the open water but before long they're clustered in the shade under the Kallady Bridge. What I thought were schools of tiny fish jumping in unison out of the lagoon near the shore may be something else. The schools are much smaller. The animals larger. They jump in a leapfrog way. Maybe they are tadpoles developing into frogs. Some might make it. I just saw one swallowed by a shorebird. 

These are days of coughing. And congestion and a jolly headache behind the eyes. No fever. No rash. No dengue. It's a bad cold. Clinton seems to have brought it. Just sweaty discomfort. He tells me "sometimes I feel weak, sometimes I feel OK." That's it exactly. Yesterday I was too weak to sit at the saloon for a haircut. There was only one person ahead of me. Half a person actually. Both barbers were on duty. 

Some young people brought their two very young kids from England. "What should we do? The travel and all the connections have really upset them." "Try to stay here for a few days. There's shade, a pool, a kiddie playground. Relax and enjoy what you can."

The pool is still "clean" but Raj, the young man who took over for Shadeesh when he broke his leg, is far from having things under control. Fat old Europeans come and slather on the sunscreen, then jump into the pool. Locals float around basically in street clothes. The chemical cocktail that keeps the pool clear is intensely acrid. In the hot sun this is not refreshing. It's not feeling like water these days. Janet saw one French woman, our age and old enough to know better, clipping her toenails at the pool. "Madame!" The young English children threw coconuts into the pool, parents unwilling to stop them. All part of the cost of doing business but exacerbating the discomfort. 

The nights are hot and the sweat is immediate. Mixed with the camphor or whatever the linens are washed in it creates an unusual smell. My pillow goes out of the pillowcase and both are hung on the railing of our room. Not the nicest thing to look at but they must dry out. There is mold on my pillow. 

In the afternoon I order a tonic, a plain soda, and a jug of filtered water. They disappear before I can enjoy them. Sitting under the fan you enjoy the moving air and can't believe your sensations when you walk ten feet under the sun. How do the plants do it? And all day long!

Just must ratchet down the activity and the expectations. Again. Put them down. Pick up a book. Or don't. But stop wishing those clouds on the horizon or that lightning out west would materialize into something here on this side of the island. They won't. 

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