What it feels like under the brutal Delhi sun

The National's India correspondent Taniya Dutta shares her experience

People shelter from the beating sun under umbrellas in New Delhi on Thursday. EPA
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I have lived 35 years of my life in Delhi and while I am used to the city’s hot and dry weather, this summer feels different. It is suffocating and intolerable to a degree we have never seen before.

The weather is extremely dry and severe. The sunlight is so harsh, it stings the eyes.

Standing under the sun for even a minute gives one a headache.

The heat feels like it could peel off your skin.

It feels like the gates of hell have been opened in Delhi.

We had witnessed a horrid summer last year when April, the month of spring, was replaced by a scorching heatwave but the month of May was usual, with average temperatures.

But this week, we have experienced unprecedented high temperatures.

On Tuesday, the national weather agency recorded 49.9°C in some parts of the city.

Even as the millions of us were trying to come to terms with the news, the mercury soared, or at least in one part of Delhi, to 52.3°C – an all-time record for India.

At home, the temperature in my room was 44°C although the air conditioner was set at 19°C. It was unbearably hot.

As panic spread, the weather agency quickly jumped in to say there could have been an error. It may not have been the hottest temperature ever – they are examining the data.

But records aside, the temperatures have on average hovered over 45°C in May, and each day has been intolerable.

We are helpless and dependent on air conditioners, but even they are giving up.

Today, a massive fire broke out at a home after an AC unit exploded at a neighbouring residential complex due to being used constantly, providing yet another concern over how to deal with this hellish weather.

Updated: May 30, 2024, 4:15 PM