Folks, I have seen hell and let me tell you, no bright lights or tunnels made an appearance.
Amravati district in Eastern Maharashtra. Where the temperature on Tuesday was 45 degrees C without even trying. The district project coordinator we met on the day phlegmatically remarked that we were lucky since the temperature on Monday was 47 degrees. Uhuh.
I have experienced such heat only when I lived in the UAE. Even there, we had the good grace to exist in a cucoon of air-conditioning, only venturing outside in the evening. In Amravati, any work worth doing gets done between 5 - 10 am after which time only desperadoes and the suicidal are on the roads. And us of course... the intrepid cast of 'Social Workers sans Frontiers... & Brains'.
Just after we'd attacked a very good roadside dhaba & started on the visions of a beautiful siesta, one of the people I was touring with insisted on being taken for a drive.
At 2:30 pm.
In what I suspect was a fit of malevolence, the long-suffering coordinator decided to fulfill the chap's request by driving us to the hill-station of Chikhaldara. No doubt a normally delightlful journey, the winding roads and hairpin bends on the journey were then negotiated at a speed of around 65 kmph. This, the afternoon furnace (heat being too mild a word) along with the feeding frenzy that had just taken place ensured that one of the other fellows along on the trip thrice pleaded in a quietly determined tone for the vehicle to be stopped. After which, the lunch, mid-morning snack and breakfast proceeded to decorate the landscape in a fashion similar to Jackson Pollock's work.
Needless to say, I could not wait to get out of there. For one, I had begun to have out-of-body experiences while being wide awake. I think. For another, missing the train would mean waiting at Amravati for another 24 hours, during which time this blogger would have been 'well done' in the steak terminology. On a side note, if there is one thing I hate with a passion, it is the summer sun. My dream is to live in some cold, blustery port city in the far north where days of sunlight are a rarity & hence welcomed. Anyway, while waiting at the station, I received a call from my boss. Apparently we've landed a new project on preventing child labour. I will be coordinating (at least in name) this project, quite likely meaning monthly visits to the district where the work will be undertaken.
The district selected for the work to commence ? Amravati.
Song for the moment: Burn - Deep Purple