What's been the hottest topic in India or at least in all of north India for the aspst several weeks? An American scientist's claim to have created life in a laboratory, thus effectively pink-slipping God? The patch between the Ambani brothers? Mayawati's/Mamata's latest tantrum (tick whichever applicable)? No, the hottest topic for the past few weeks has been the heat.
The plains of north-west India get hot in summer. It's a fact of life. Like gravity makes apples (ad other things) fall. Like birds can fly, but pigs can't? Like Behenji/Mamatadi will throw a tantrum on any given day (tick whichever applicable, which on some days might be both).
However, summer heat has always been a hot topic. Everyone agrees that the summer of 2010 is the hottest summer they've ever been through. However, within this broad framework of agreement, there is plenty of scope for heated argument. Some say it's the hottest summer in 60 years. Other says it's the hottest summer in a hundred years. Some say it's the hottest summer since meteorological records were invented, whenever that was. Other claim it's the hottest summer since the molesters were invented, whenever that was.
The more people talk about how hot this summer is and how much worse it might still get-the hotter I feel. Ad I am sure so does everyone else. So why do we do it? Why do we work ourselves into a frenzy telling each other how hot it is, recounting cases of people we know who've got sunstroke, or are likely to get sunstroke? Why do we send our internal mercury soaring by squabbling about whether it was hotter yesterday than it is today or whether that ought bothersome dog which, if you pay it the slightest attention, will feel encouraged to get familiar, trying to jump into your lap and slobber all over your face with its great big drolly tongue? Why do we make the heat so much worse by talking so much about it?
Are we a nation of masochists, people who take pleasure in their own suffering? Is that why we allow ourselves to get so hot and bothered about a routine occurrence: On the tropical plains, summer is going to be hot, as sure as eggs is andas? Or do we talk so much about the heat simply because we have no other topic of conversation. (Scientist who created life in a lab? What's so hot bout that? Didn't that Frankenstein fellow do its years ago? Tell you what. Let's compare heat waves instead. I bet my heat wave is bigger than your hat wave).
No, I don't think it's either of these reasons. I think that the reason we talk about the heat so much is because of our profound philosophy, not of man-made climate change, but of karma, which is the same thing. According to the laws of karma, all suffering in this life is an expiation of sins committed in a former life. If we suffer now it's because in our past we probably had it far too cushy and swanked round living the life of Reilly and looking down our noses at our less fortunate neighbors. Yesterday's gain today's pain. That's the karmic formula, as cosmically valid as E=MC2. Conversely, today's pain must equal tomorrow's gain. If we put in more than our fair share of suffering today, tomorrow must in recompense, be hunky-dory, and the more dory the hunky the better. It's like insurance premia; the bigger the premium you pay today (pain) the bigger the insurance pay-off you get tomorrow (gain).
That's why we moan and bitch and bellyache about the heat. Because by doing so we hope in our next incarnation life will in all senses of the term, be cool. Me? The heat's making me so miserable right now that in my next innings Hell itself should freeze over. A real chill out.