Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cymbal #44:: Amplified Heat

Hauz Khas Village, 3 PM. June in the hipster capital of South Asia. It’s hot like melted wax. It’s hot like there are poltergeists with spectral hairdryers aimed at the back of your neck, the back of your knees, the top of your head. The heat bakes everything. Stray dogs are evaporating before your eyes. People waver and flicker, narrower from the head down. The paving stones are radiating heat upwards. You can see it. The waves look like they do in physics textbooks.

In a café. They make cakes, crepes, pastries. Coffee, herbal tea.  Small things, small efforts. The waiter’s from Italy. He’s studying philosophy at JNU and playing football at Siri Fort. He has a full length sleeve tattoo and wears thick rimmed spectacles.

Mewithoutyou - In a Sweater Poorly Knit - 2006

The Meteorology Department says it’s 44 degrees. An unshaven man in yellow shoes assures me it’s much hotter. He confides that WHO guidelines mandate that an emergency must be declared any time the temperature crosses 46 degrees. The government would have to provide free water to millions and it would bankrupt them because it actually crosses 46 degrees thirty days a year.

You would probably not send back a cup of coffee served at 46 degrees. You wouldn’t be thrilled, but you’d grumble a bit and drink it.

The café is not so hip that they don’t have a fridge. The fridge apologizes for its inherent unhipness with postcards from the seventies randomly scattered across its face, half face up – Air France, A Beach, Surfers, Mountains, Air India; half face down – love, missing, kisses.

Cream - Pressed Rat and Warthog - 2005

I go to pay my tab. There is, as there was last week, besides the tip jar, a white lobster in a fishbowl. How’s Lubna, I ask the Italian philosopher, pleased that I remember the beast’s name.

‘Oh that’s not Lubna. That’s Frank. Lubna died.’

‘Yeah? That’s a pity.’

‘Too hot. Water got too hot.’

‘It’s really hot today. How is Frank taking it?’

‘Not too good,’ He pulls a pencil out from behind his ear and dips it in the tank, flips the lobster over. ‘Frank’s dead too.’

1 comment:

  1. If you read Roger Zelazny's Amber series, like I told you to, and like you have not done, you would see a similar story about a fish fry pub. The pub's name would change, to the last owner's name, who all got killed one by one, in Amber's non-nonchalant world.