Mumbai Memoir 53- When Mumbai spits fire!
During summer Mumbai gets altogether a different texture, as the city literally fumes throughout the day and chills out at night! The heat radiated by the blazing sun is absorbed by the Asphalt and concrete (of the buildings and bridges) and gradually gets released at night. This is technically called as the ‘urban heat island effect’.
The hot and humid nature of Mumbai’s air is due to the presence of the Arabian Sea that surrounds its bay. In recent years Mumbai’s average temperature has reached a consistent high of 33 degree Celsius and a low of 29 degree Celsius! The heat wave of the city spikes up to 40 degree Celsius mark these days! During the summer months, Mumbai’kars (citizens of Mumbai), besides the crowd and noise of the buzzing city, have to combat yet another element- Heat! Wiping beads of perspiration that trickles down their forehead, it’s a common sight to notice people in search of cold stuffs that they would gulp down their throat to find quick relief from the heat. The streets are full of cold beverages and juicy fruits that can relieve one from the city’s ‘heat bites’!
Streets of Mumbai are well equipped with ‘thirst busters’ that are easily available at petty costs. I love exploring the streets and am always curious about various food and beverage outlets that give relief during Mumbai’s heat. The other day, I gulped down was, a glass full of ice cold lemonade prepared by a woman vendor. The smile on her face while preparing each glass of lemonade reflected her joy of serving ice cold lemon juice to thirsty passerby like me.
As I continued exploring South/Central Mumbai in the blazing heat, I could feel my body fluids draining out. My mind and body was demanding urgent hydration. Just around the corner was a ‘Nariyal Paaniwala’, a coconut vendor offering natural coconut juice. The vendor was a talkative man. As he sliced the soft portions of a huge coconut, he informed me about how during the colonial rule the British officers use to take a break and spend the summer months on cool hill stations near Mumbai. His great grandfather use to supply coconut water to most of the British officers then! The coconut water he offered was sweet and acted as an elixir which revived me out of the dehydration that was caused due to heat!
Even today, adventurous Mumbaikars go for a weekend break to the popular hill stations like Matheran and Mahabaleshwar which truly help to beat the heat. For the ones who do not have time to travel or just want to relax at home over the weekend, an air conditioner on full blast acts as ultimate bliss to beat the summer heat!
As I continued my journey, the sun above me was gradually mellowing down. Suddenly I was delighted to randomly find my favourite summer fruit, ‘Tadgola’(locally called so). The tree which produces it is scientific called Borassus Flabellifer. The jelly textured fruit is referred as ‘Ice Apple’ in British English, and is filled with sweet watery juice that quenches one’s thirst instantly.
The last thing on my check list was experiencing a ‘Gola’, a flavoured ice crush compressed on a wooden stick. As I relished a multi-coloured Gola, I could see the sun setting over the bay at Chowpatty sea-shore. It looked as if the blazing rage of the Sun was being swallowed by the waters of the Arabian Sea, thus giving temporary relief to us Mumbai’kars, as they wish for the monsoon at the earliest! But like it is in life, the relieving value of Mumbai’s upcoming monsoon will be created by the punishing nature of the Mumbai’s summer!
Photo credits: Shraddha C Sankulkar