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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Life in Chennai #14: Beating the Heat Part 2 - Adapting

Friends and family have all been asking me how I am doing with the heat, with the summer and the answer, very truthfully and surprisingly, is, “I’m doing fine with it”. I’m glad it’s summer, happy it is here and enjoying the days, not pining for cooler climes or a change of season. And that surprises me as much as anyone.

I’ve got a few close friends here and talking this past weekend, we all noticed the same thing: somewhere along the way, we’ve actually gotten used to the heat. Oh, the days it hits 44 degrees C are not days you feel particularly motivated to go for a jog or run errands around town all afternoon, but they’re not days we wish we were dead either. We’ve found tricks and tactics (like in my last post) to deal, but it goes beyond that. We’re actually physically and mentally adapting to the new range.

It is weird to notice that and funny too. This past weekend was cooler than it’s been, lovely and pleasant, nice at night. We were happy and giddy over the comfort and freedom and spent lots of time outside…it was 38 degrees. We’ve completely adjusted our range of what is normal, what is nice, what is hot and what is cool. I first really noticed we had adapted when I caught myself using “only” to describe anything under 40 degrees and not meaning it in jest. Similarly, you stop noticing being sweaty and sticky. You stop describing it as “gross” and, really, just stop describing it at all. You get along with it psychologically so that you do not feeling trapped inside or unable to live life.

I seem to be physically adapting also. The first week back from Nepal was definitely like getting smacked by a truck and I definitely felt my body struggling with the heat and worried about the months of summer left. Sweaty and damp, I didn’t sleep well those first few nights. But that seems to have gone away and I feel fine now, normal. I’m actually sweating less and being bothered less than when I first arrived in India despite it now being much hotter. I’ve even kept my beard and find it OK, maybe because the short hair aids evaporation? Beats me, but it isn’t any more itchy, annoying or damp than the rest of me. I am feeling OK without a/c at home and even no longer feel the need to turn on the fans all the time (although I am thankful we have a/c at work as without any airflow and catching the mid-day sun, the office is truly unbearable without some form of cooling). I am really jazzed about this, all the more because I wasn’t sure how I would do. I do well in the cold – my body generates a lot of heat – but was never as good with wilting heat, so this is a new trick for me.

A year ago, I would have described 38 degrees as killer hot and dreaded a day out in it and today I find it pleasantly cool and a nice respite. I now have a high of 44 degrees in my spread of acceptable temperatures I know I can handle. How cool is that? It is really amazing what you can get used to and how you can redefine your range of comfort.


Preiya said...

Hi McKay I'm with you! I know longer refer to my ubiquitous sweating as a "sweaty sheen"....its more like a "misty glow"... :) My only caveat to the adjustment to Chennai heat is when I'm wrapped in yards of Chennai silk or chiffon when I'm dress up in a sari attending a wedding in non a/c building with 200 other people!

Feisty Blue Gecko said...

Hi there - just found your blog - i am also chennai based and working in development and have just started to blog my own experiences.

Feisty Blue Gecko said...

Hi there - just found your blog - i am also chennai based and working in development and have just started to blog my own experiences.

Feisty Blue Gecko said...

thanks for your comments - i will definitely give you a call. Look forwarding to connecting.