Now for the only pleasant walk in the day! There is just a faint light in the eastern sky, and the stars are beginning to pale. A cool breeze blows, and the birds are waking. The crows caw noisily in the trees, a flock of screaming parrots flies overhead, doves are cooking, and the brain fevered bird is trying to reach its top note. The grass is cool and dewy, the shadowy trees are rustling their leaves, and the air is full of scent.
The grey light in the east grows rapidly brighter, turns to red and then to gold, and then a burning bright point appears above the horizon. It quickly grows larger and larger and rises higher (how you wish you could stop it!), and then up-leaps the sun and it is day. At once the heat beings, walking becomes toilsome, and one turns back to the house for one’s morning cup of tea, under the electric fan or the old fashioned punkah, on the verandah.
It is not long before the servants begin shutting the house up to keep it cool-every door and window barred against the heat-enemy, that now begins to besiege the fortress. If we can sit inside our fort under the fan, we keep fairly cool. But if we have to go out in the now blazing sun, as most people have to do, then we feel the full force of the heat. In places like Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai, the heat is humid, for the air is full of moisture; it is like being in a hot house or a Turkish bath, and our shirt is wet through with sweat. But in Punjab, the heat is very dry and fierce, like the blast of a furnace.
By noon the sun is blazing right over –head-a fierce, scorching, pitiless sun. The farmers in the fields take refuge under the shade of the trees, and sleep. But noon is not the hottest time. All the afternoon the heat gets more and more intense, until about four O’ clock it is at its worst; and the only thing is to lie indoors under the fan and gasp. How welcome is tea when it comes!
About six O’ clock, we can open doors and windows. But it is still very hot outside, even after the sun has set; for the heated earth, like a hot brick, gives out heat for hours. But when darkness comes, it gets a little cooler; so that one is glad at last to get to sleep in the open air with only a sheet over one.