Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ginger volunteer vs Indian weather

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; I've broken the back of it; I'm over the crest of the hill; The hard part is over; It's all downhill from here....

I'm now well into the second half of my placement. In five months exactly, my visa for India expires and I am feeling good about having conquered the thing that potentially worried me the most about living here in India - the weather.

When I arrived here in November last year it was still a nice balmy mid-20s. When I got to Jharkhand in December it was a bit cooler and slowly got down to a chilly 5C....but that didn't bother me. I'm English for goodness sake - we have cooler summer's days in August (normally the Bank Holiday weekend to coincide with my birthday ironically). What did worry me? The reports of 45C+.

For the colour blind amongst you, I'm ginger. Yes, it's true. Some of you might not have noticed. Unfortunately, us gingers do not have a particularly impressive track record in hot weather. So despite my mother's helping hand in my DNA, I definitely lean to the Myles side of the family and our ability to get sun-burnt sitting in a darkened cupboard at night. 45C was not an attractive proposition to me.

Added to this, our office wasn't exactly state of the art (see previous post). We did have a fan, but it had a tendency to stop. When it did, it was the equivalent of trying to work in a sauna. Walking the 300m back to my flat for lunch resulted in a need to change my t-shirt. Sitting at my desk in the evening checking my emails had a similar effect. It. Was. Hot.

The middle of June (specifically 10th-15th) however, is an important date in Jharkhand. It marks the arrival of the monsoon. And it's now here in all it's glory. We have buckets of water, the ground is a mess, it's mid-20s temperatures.....AND I'M LOVING IT!!!!

Honestly, it's so funny - everyone keeps asking me what I think of the weather! I say - it's like this for 9-10 months of the year in England. But cold. And windy. And just generally miserable. Here? It's still warm, it's refreshing and lovely and cool.

That's the light-hearted side of things, but the monsoon is critical in many parts of Jharkhand, as it is for most of India - as about 60% of the country’s farm-lands are rain-fed and agriculture accounts for a fifth of the GDP. Last year, while overall for India it was better than 2009, in Jharkhand it was not good - crops died and water tables were depleted - it has huge (and obviously far more important) impacts beyond just cooling down the overseas volunteers. It will last until mid-August and needs to replenish the land to enable crops to be grown for the rest of the year, when rainfall will be minimal.

So thankfully it looks like this will be a good year for the monsoon. It might make my morning run a bit more dreary (and messy! the road to my flat is like a ploughed field!) and I'm sure after 6-8 weeks I'll have had enough of it all, but there are more important things than staying dry at the end of the day. Like eating. And having crops to sell and money to live in general.

So, thank you monsoon. You've made one Englishman and 1.3bn (roughly) Indians very happy!

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