I was a bit worried about the weather when I was packing for Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. My friend, who lived in Sweden for many years, told me, “Sweden has two seasons: July/August, and winter.”
After all, I had this 23-kg limitation, and I couldn’t take too much warm clothing.So I packed one light jacket, a couple of shawls and scarves, and one ear-covering cap. I wore the heavier jacket on the flight.
I didn’t realize egg-jackly what my friend said when she mentioned “July/August.”.
The temperature for the past several days has been 31 deg C (that’s 84 deg F) and a humidity varying between 75 ad 97 (I kid you not) per cent. I’ve been using a small, one-speed, folding bike with tiny tyres to get around, and believe me, one feels every degree of the heat and every per cent of the humidity when one is trying to crest the Himalayas (er, they feel like them) in the noonday heat.
Another fact I have learnt. These buildings (in one of which I am staying) have heaters, which are switched on in winter. But they have NO air-conditioning in summer, because probably they don’t HAVE summer. And forget fans.
Forget fans? When every muggy night, as I lie bathed in sweat, all I can think of is switching on the fan in my Bangalore bedroom and going peacefully to sleep? When I went to a couple of stores nearby, I did find pedestal and table fans for sale. But not wanting to put my friend to unnecessary expense, and adding to the junkola accumulation (I am here for aother week!) I didn’t feel like buying one.
I went to Denmark, and standing in the sun to watch the Changing of the Guard,in Copenhagen, I got blistered AND fried at the same time. Never has an ice-cream tasted as good as the one I got on the pier. I wanted to have another one to put down my perspiring back….Well, we got back to Sweden after some more travels which were, lucikly, not too bad. Once again, the temperature soared. cycled to and from work like a trooper.
But…by yesterday (Sunday) , both of us had had enough. “Let’s go fly a kite!” I yodelled. My friend looked at me in surprise. “Sorry! That’s a famous song from ‘Mary Poppins’,” I explained, I wanted to use the tune to sing, “Let’s go… buy a fan!” So off we went. Cycled off in the muggy heat, with Old Sol beating down on our helmeted heads as fiercely as he could, as if to make up for all the snowy, sleety, frosty, rainy mornings when he’d gone off to get some chai and left all the Scandinavians in the lurch.
We went to five stores. Why did we do that? Were we very choosy about the models of the fans and the colours we wanted (the fans we’d seen the previous week were all the reverse of Mr Ford and his model-T story…they were all white.) Oh, no! There was a simple reason why we went to store after store after store after store….there were NO fans!
Stores do change their layouts often, the better to trap the customer with more unplanned purchases, so initially, we thought they’d put the fans Somewhere Else. But when we finally located a store employee in Store no.1, we realized that the Else where they had put the Somewhere was…in Other Customers’ Homes! All the fans were sold out.
Having, ofkose, chosen the hottest part of the day (from 11am onwards) to do the FBE (Fan Buying Expedition), we went to Store no. 2. Then Store no. 3. Then Store no. 4. Puff-puff, pant-pant. Pedal-pedal-pedal. Puddle-puddle-puddle (of sweat.) Sweat trickling down along my ears, along my back, moistening the waistband of my trousers. I suggested to my friend in Store no. 4 that we just climb into one of the display camping tents and stay in the store for a couple of days. He wouldn’t listen, law-abiding nutcase that he is.
I made a Wise Prediction. Murphy’s Law mandated that we would find a fan, probably beat-up and not working, in Store no. 5. I was wrong, as usual. “Zere is a vairee few flaktar (fans),” the Pretty-Young-Thing-Who-Looked-Like-A-Nordic-Wax-Doll at the entrance told us. There WERE fans. They were NOT beat-up old ones, but new. There were actually three models. But…..
One looked like the head of a Storm Trooper from Star Wars. Another one was so small I had to close one eye to be able to see it inside its small metal cage. The third one had no wire or metal mesh at all. In each case, when I put my face about 3 inches from the revolving blades, I felt a faint stirring of a gentle zephyr. The beads of perspiration on my face laughed nastily, and rolled down a bit more victoriously. No wonder the third fan had no grille…it didn’t need one! All I needed to do was to put my pinky finger gently on one of the teensy-weensy plastic blades, and the fan stopped, timorous and worried, and eager to stop.
I had just finished a blistering summer in Bangalore, and come to Sweden. I knew that from here I would be going to St.Louis in August…triple-H…Hot, Humid, and Horrible. So I was very happy to be going to Sweden and Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, where the nip in the air would be very welcome.
Nip? Even the BUSES are not air-conditioned in the summer, they are only heated in the winter!…and remember..there are no water fountains…one has to BUY water, expensive Swedish Kroner water, everywhere!
Nip? The only nip I want to do is to NIP the rest of this trip and fly off to St.Louis, where at least everyone knows what summer is, and there is blessed air-conditioning, and my poor daughter bought me a table fan last year….
One thing you can say is very true…I am NOT a fan of the Swedish summer!