Alas, it is that time of the year again that all of us have been dreading since the temperatures started rising above 20 degrees. Summers in Lahore are like spending your summers inside an oven at high heat, while you are burnt to a crisp under the glaring rays of the sun that show no mercy to anyone. All our generators and UPSes give up and go on a vacation, along with the AC Service Men.
Power outages only make things worse for all of us. Wouldn’t you rather be freezing, huddled around a heater instead of fanning yourself constantly and trying not to drown in your own pool of sweat?
The canal in Lahore has already begun to fill up with men from the lower classes along with boys as young as four years old, also enjoying the cool relief the water brings them from the unmerciful sun.
One look at the muddy brown water of the canal is enough to make us cringe in disgust and look away while crossing it in our 24/7 air conditioned cars. However, for those that cannot afford the luxury of going to a country club to use an actual swimming pool, the muddy brown water that causes other people to cringe brings relief to those unfortunate.
The air conditioners have all decided to unanimously stop working, as if taking revenge for some misdeed committed in the past. Even the ACs in the cars have decided to rest despite not having been on for the past five months. Poorly made paper fans, folded scraps of papers, random books and file covers are the latest method to make sure you don’t suffocate or die of a heat stroke.
Some ACs have even begun spewing out a mixture of warm air and dust that has been collecting inside our favourite machines since we turned them off in October.
For those few who have working air conditioners and their repair men aren’t off vacationing, the summer is just an excuse to turn the AC down to 16 degrees and then close up the house, keeping out the external world along with the scorching heat.
The houses soon turn into Winter Wonderlands instead of the burning infernos they used to be. The ACs are truly a magical machine, the only thing keeping us Pakistanis alive in this horrid weather. A cold glass of Coca Cola or even water is accepted readily as if it is the last drink you will be having on this earth.
Ice is a rare commodity in household refrigerators as the Lahore Heat Wave spares no one and nothing. Electricity isn’t here long enough for the ice to freeze in one go and instead of solid ice we have a semi solid bunch of ice cubes with more water in them than ice. The ice cream men patrol the streets on their carts, hoping that some exhausted children will hear the siren and run out of their homes and indulge in a cool treat to get their minds off counting how many minutes there are left until the light comes back.
Ice and ice cream both businesses prosper in the summer heat, taking advantage of us dehydrated and burning Lahorites.
You know summer is here in Lahore when sunglasses start coming off people’s heads and onto their eyes like they were designed to be, when you can hear every member of your household sigh irritably as soon as the power outages begin and the buzz of the ACs fades out, when the siren of the ice cream vendor seems more melodious than ever and he becomes your new best friend while you binge on ice cream hoping it will cool you down and prevent you from combusting.
Summer, especially in Lahore, is a terrible thing and extremely hard to get through. However, after years of living in this city, you learn a few tricks here and there to learn to survive these few months of scorching summer and prevent being burnt to a crisp.