I was compelled to look up Islamabad’s weather on weather.com this morning after the unpleasant episode of excessive perspiration that transpired last night. It says that there would be some thunderstorms later today and tomorrow, and that the temperature is 91° but it feels like 104°. There was some rain very early in the morning today, too bad it hasn’t done much about the stickiness, but I guess that’s a Monsoon gift we should accept without much complaining!
So how bad was it last night? Well, my skin had become a salt mine by the time I came back home after a brief walk around the neighborhood, and it was not that easy taking off a polo short drenched 60% in sweat (or maybe the good Lord used a drill bit of a larger diameter to make my sweat glands). Those dirty old exhaust fans on the east wall of the polyclinic facing that bumpy old underpass were blowing out lukewarm air as usual, along with a host of little critters from the putrid depths of the murky hospital. As I walked down the path that led to the blue area, I would occasionally get a whiff of stinking sweaty armpits out of nowhere. It was as if a horizontally challenged sweaty little fellow in a white shalwar kameez had been standing at that particular location for a bit too long, and the stench from those yellow spots under his arms had permeated the vapor in the air, thus creating a floating mass of stench that would partially stick to every passerby and blend with his stench to create another unique aroma.
And when I cast my eyes on the blue area towers in front of me, and on the distant yellow blinking lights on the road, I was reminded of my days in the middle east, when I would come back home after a walk with friends near the sea-side, and smelled like a fish fresh out of the salty sea water. Luckily we don’t have a sea or fishies in Islamabad, so we can’t blame them for making us smell bad in the humidity. The air was very still, unlike the air near the sea-side, and I could not muster up enough courage to walk the extra distance to the Usmania restaurant for my late dinner.
It was quarter to nine, and the shops had their genny’s running. Most of the shopkeepers were sitting outside next to their genny’s, fanning themselves with scraps of paper or with their own shirts. But the brave ones are those who work in the tandoor naan shops. These lads stand near those terrible tandoors for hours with strange Hellboy like gloves on their right hands to reach into the bowels of hell and pull out a nicely done roti (I wonder if Hellboy worked in a tandoor). They don’t even have genny’s, maybe they can’t afford them, so some of them use the gas that is available to them to their advantage and light up a huge fire in their shops. That’s not very pleasant for the customers either, but the tandoor guy makes the roti to earn his roti, and the customer wants the roti he makes. So the need for roti overpowers the suffering caused by the heat… and roti makes the world go round!
And so I walked back home with my roti, watching the shutters being pulled down. The old man who sells newspapers near the polyclinic covered his little stall with a dirty thick cloth, set his charpai on the sloping footpath and laid himself down shirtless under the infinite sky. He probably doesn’t think too much about the heat, or the humidity, or the stench emanating from the tattered old shirt he had been wearing all day. He’s too worried about getting roti everyday. And here we are in our pretty little rooms with AC’s and fans running around us, complaining about the weather and taking everything that we have for granted…