Its been a while since I’ve posted here. I guess it’s the summer – too hot for any creative work. I’m exhausted by the time I get home that I don’t feel like doing anything else but take a shower and a nap. And increasingly, the naps are getting more and more drawn out. I guess its another sign of old age slowing winding its way through my bones. But honestly, the summers are getting hotter than they used to be, at least as far back as I can remember them. The summers from my childhood were magical periods, I don’t recall any times of such intense heat.

For those who care for esoteric information, today is the fifth day of Nautapa. There isn’t an English equivalent of this term. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever hearing it outside Bhopal even in Hindi. Direct translation of the word is nine (nau) and hot (tapa). It means specific nine days of extreme summer heat. We have them every year at different times according to some complex amalgamation of our solar and lunar calendars. These are the nine hottest days of the year and the lore says that hotter these nine days are the wetter the upcoming monsoon is going to be. But there is a catch. It should not rain during these nine days otherwise the spell is broken and the monsoons bring scanty rains.

People swear by this information and soothsayers calculate the amount of rains we are going to have by the intensity of these nine days.

As usual, there is a religious story behind the origins of these nine days but I have heard so many contradictory versions that its nearly impossible to figure out what the actual story is so I’m going to skip the details here. If I ever figure out which is the authentic version based on popularity, I’ll remember to bring this topic up again. I love ancient myths and lore. Once you look past the dogma and the rituals, most of these stories are pure sources of information about the nature of our ancestors and the lifestyles they led to adopt these stories in their daily lives. Not necessarily from any historical point of view but from a more personal human perspective. We get a glimpse of their lives and what they thought important as they went about living their day to day lives. Often these stories and legends reflect the very real hopes and fears of those who lived in those times. More often than not, the fantastic battles of gods and demons in the myths are internal struggles of people passed down in religious garb so that subsequent descendants would at least remember the processes which led to their ancestors’ actions. Its amazing how much easier religious stories are to remember than history lessons and far more entertaining. No wonder there is more myth in the world than history.

Coming back to our original topic, so far in these nautapa, it hasn’t rained. I guess it’s a good sign and things look hopeful from here as far as the lore is concerned. We could use a really good monsoon this year or we are going to have major water supply problems next year. The weather people predict the onset of rains in another fifteen days time. Another four days to go before the sun decides to mellow out a bit and the rains decide to quench our parched lives. Lets hope for the best.


  1. interestingly written…though the summer of 2013 in bhopal has been most relentless for as long as i can remember…m counting days…..and nautapa are good two weeks away…heaven knows how this time and nautapa and another few days for the monsoons would pass. quite a test!!

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