The heat is on the heat

Come summer time, most reports and articles in newspapers begin with the dramatic words that brilliantly define their creativity: ‘Come summer time’.  Personally speaking, being a humour writer, I avoid such stuff as they contain facts.

Anyway, newspaper editors are known to mercilessly send back reports to the authors who are lazy and unoriginal in not incorporating in their articles the ‘come summer time’ description. Only Arundhathi Roy is exempt from this rule based on the commonsense policy that adding any more words to her works would actually tilt the balance of the globe from its axis.

Already, geography textbooks have been amended to read: Earth is made of 10% land, 10% water and the remaining 80% is filled with words from Arundhathi Roy’s essays. These days, the publication industry has come to a common agreement and by which The Hindu publishes the first few ten thousands of pages of her short essay while the succinct ending of few hundreds of thousands of pages are left with the Outlook. The bulky middle is passed on to the Yellow Pages.

But this column is not about Arundhathi, but about the other scourge of summer: Heat.

Come summer time, the weather in these parts is so unbearable that the ‘come summer time’ description that goes at the top also comes down to the middle.

If you think the joke, that there are only three seasons in Chennai —- hot, hotter and hottest —- would now have become cold, well in the all-pervading heat even it has melted to be just an old joke. In the few more months of heat, the joke will be squelched further and will have evaporated.

During summers the mercury just shoots up making the kinky amongst us to wonder whether the thermometers are on some kind of weird viagra. But extreme heat, which leads us to suspect whether we are on the surface of the sun, is not such a bad thing at all. It at least must stop the mandarins in the ISRO from thinking up plans for a sun mission, surprisingly titled Suryayan.

Ok, I am not belittling the moon mission. It was not a failure, in that the spacecraft pushed off in the general direction of the moon —- which is up. Before it went to pieces, the Chandrayan vehicle is also said to have gathered vital information, which I presume the scientists involved will share with us once they make them up. But be wary, and if you find descriptions like ‘celestial body’, ‘bright surface’  ‘manned landing’, you can be certain the mission had less of moon, but more of Moon Moon Sen.

Anyway, before the scientific community sends up more billion-dollar babies up into the orbit for exploration of water on the moon or mars, it would do well to divine for some water in Vadapalani, which is where I live. While on the subject of Chandrayan, let us also be clear that if the crores and crores of rupees that had been spent on it was instead diverted to tribal welfare we will have been spared the menace of Naxalism and the bigger menace of Arundhathi Roy’s essays.

The smart among you would have noticed that we started with the subject of summer heat before the Chandrayan carried us to a different orbit altogether.

But why is the heat so bad here? Well, if we observe closely, you will realise the problem is the thermometer, more precisely the mercury in it. Now, mercury is a curious element of the nature, as it is neither liquid nor solid, but a planet.

Anyone with a fair understanding of weather reports —– we can find them in the humour section of newspapers —– will know Mercury was perhaps chosen to head the thermometer because it was closest to the Sun. Yes, nepotism is universal.  And naturally when the sun is at its peak, mercury too goes up too, thinking itself to be tall.

So the first thing we all ought to do, if we want to combat the heat, is to cut mercury down to size. This should be possible, as the scientific community has the previous experience of derecognising Pluto. (For the record, Pluto was elbowed out because it was so far away from the charmed circle of the sun, which needless to say is the symbol of the ruling party in this State).

As human beings we may also begin practising environmentally unfriendly things that needle the heat. We are pointedly referring to the two flavours of measurement of temperature: Fahrenheit and Celsius.

What’s the difference between the two?  The rule of thumb as far as Indian newspapers is concerned is: If it is cold, it’s Celsius, and if it is hot, it better be Fahrenheit, as you will appreciate that 100 F is more evocative of heat than 37 C while 0 C is considerably chillier than 32 F.

There is also third system of temperature measurement that goes by the name Kelvin, which is arrived at by adding or subtracting, we fail to remember which, 273 to the current temperature, which may or may not be in Fahrenheit or Celsius, we don’t recollect that too.

What’s the big deal about adding or subtracting 273 to any given temperature? Why the heck was this system accepted? Our suspicion is that Kelvin’s dad was a big shot and perhaps was the sanctioning authority in the Directorate of Temperature Evaluation (DOTE). From him came the phrase ‘doting father’.

In that spirit of things, we also propose to introduce Crank’s Corner system of measurement, which entails multiplying what this column truly represents, an absolute zero, to the existing temperature.

If this doesn’t help bring the temperature down, we don’t know what will, and how we will tide over the heat, come summer.