… or whether the weather be hot …

Today (April 17th) is the day when the sun passes directly overhead our cottage in the south of Tamil Nadu. This is according to my Table of the Declination of the Sun, which I downloaded from http://www.starpath.com. We are situated 10 degrees north of the equator, so today at solar noon (which is around twenty past twelve Indian time) there will be no shadows cast. And from tomorrow the sun starts to shine on the back of the cottage and the front terrace gets a little bit of shade.

It is already hot. The drought conditions due to the deficient 2012 monsoon have left the countryside parched with less than a third of the agricultural land being used. Water “arguments”, shall we say, between the southern states, are getting hotter too. Many of Tamil Nadu’s key rivers for irrigation rise in Kerala or Karnataka, and the water sharing agreements are based on ancient formulae calculated when the demands of each state were quite different.

The dam in front of the cottage is rapidly emptying. The water is piped to Dindigul for drinking purposes, and water rationing has been in place there for some time. In Chennai too the city authorities are re-opening the deep wells to the south of the city which were last used during the drought years of 2003 and 2004. We were living in Chennai at that time, and had no running water to the house for 3 years! I bought a tanker of water every 2 weeks for household use.

Mid-April is the start of the Tamil month of Chittirai, followed by Vaikaci – the two hottest months of the year when the temperature on the plains during the first two weeks of May can get into the low to mid 40s. This is not as hot as a Delhi summer, but quite enough! May is the month when the hill stations of Ooty and Kodaikanal are crowded with people fleeing the heat, and I will blog later about the flower show at Kodai.

Naturally, the sun passes back overhead at some stage – in fact towards the end of August – but it is not nearly so hot. The monsoon has started by then along the west coast and the clouds spill over the mountains into Tamil Nadu – sometimes with rain, though not always – giving welcome shade. It is a very pleasant time to visit if you can’t make the winter season from December to March.

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