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English summer

By Nickunj Malik - Aug 01,2018 - Last updated at Aug 01,2018

The inhabitants of London might crave sunshine, but like every mortal in a similar situation, when their wishes are granted, they cannot handle the heat. Believe me, it is true. Constant and unpredictable rainfall throughout the year is such an irritant that they compulsively discuss the weather at all times. It is definitely a conversation opener in most cases. Yet, as soon as the summer temperatures rise to 30ºC and thereabouts their metrological department starts giving out health warnings — Londoners start to wilt away. In their version of a heatwave, that is.

For people visiting from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries, it is difficult to understand what the fuss is all about. I mean we put up with unprecedented highs of 45ºC and above, several times annually, during our own summer months. Stepping out in the afternoons during this period makes everyone’s skin crawl. Added to this is the continuous power outage that is experienced by all and keeping members of our family safe from sunstroke becomes a real challenge.

Compared to this, it is difficult to understand why the English keep whining because however hot it gets there during the day, their night temperature always hovers between 18ºC and 19ºC centigrade. Which is considered cold in certain parts of the world, including the Indian subcontinent. In certain states of my home country, people pull out mufflers and woolen jumpers in that kind of weather. As a matter of fact, in Bengal, children are forcibly dressed in monkey caps, which is a knitted head-glove kind of garment that covers the skull, ears, neck, throat, forehead and chin, all at the same time. It looks like a perfect disguise for a bank robber incidentally, and if they familiarise themselves with this prop, they might not feel the need to use a face stocking to conceal their true identity, but here I digress.

Another thing I have noticed about Londoners is that they are an unsmiling lot and do not get enthusiastic about anything very quickly. If you observe them during their commuting time in any underground subway, you will see that no one talks to anyone. Even during peak rush hour, when the carriages seem to be bursting at the seams, there is minimal interaction between the commuters. With expressionless faces, they enter and exit from their designated stations, like human robots. 

But one thing is for certain, come Wednesday, they start looking forward to the weekend. The roadside bars fill up, with more customers arriving the next day and by Friday, the “happy hour” literally lives up to its name. After consuming large amounts of intoxicant liquids, they all emerge in high spirits. Loud chatter interspersed with contagious laughter can be heard in every corner, till the early hours of the morning.

Also, despite the regular signage, it is quite easy to lose your bearings in this bustling city and recently I found that following the directions on my Google Maps was making me go round and round in circles. 

“Good morning. Are you lost dear?” a cultured voice asked.

I turned to see a middle aged lady facing me.

“I can’t find my hotel,” I confided.

“I’m going that way, let me walk you,” she offered. 

“Thanks. A bit chilly isn’t it?” I fell in step with her.

She stopped in surprise.

“I love it,” I assured hurriedly.

“It’s a scorching hot summer day,” she corrected. 

“Love that too,” I responded politely.

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Comments

The Indian summers were pivotal in the Brexit from India in 1947, is a thought that struck me while reading this.Whether they left on their own or were driven is still being debated but this does give an insight weighing towards the former supposition. Imagine calling the simmering 30's hawt!

As for the stiff upper lip, well with all the talk centred around the weather alone, what else can be expected?

Agree with you about the stereotype of the British gentlemen and the Stiff Upper Lip which even the inimitable PGW acknowledged , naming one of his delightful masterpieces so. . But the advent of smartphones has probably made this the most popular British cultural export What with the metro traveller in every country peering into their phones and avoiding eye contact with fellow passengers , leave alone exchanging pleasntries

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Tuesday 14 August 2018

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