Interrupted only by two months of torrential downpour, Bombay suffers valiantly its 300 days of summer. Usually dripping with either rain or sweat, we certainly know what it is like to be drenched. Weather doesn’t make for good banter here. Like bad conversation, our seasons too are made of monosyllables. Parts of the country might have it marginally better, but let’s face it—as a whole, we Indians sadly need to be privileged to enjoy summer. We need to be able to turn on our air conditioners.
Though I liked my six-week summer holidays as a child, my undergraduate classmates in Britain would look confounded when I told them that my parents and teachers didn’t really want me to go out and play in the sun. They really just wanted me to stay in. My British friends, on the other hand, spoke of summer with a glee that was unaffected. Our university gave us 12 weeks off, not six. The plans I heard my fellow students make were all audacious. Along with wool, these recently adult Britons were shedding their inhibitions too. I couldn’t go back, not when everything was so copious.
In the summer of 2003, I still had hair I could grow down till my shoulders. I left the university’s student accommodation and began to shack up with people I barely knew. Cornwall, a county of cliffs, castles and countless beaches, came alive with the mercury. Falmouth, the student town where I stayed, transformed itself into a paradise for holidaymakers. Much like the yesteryear fair, the travelling Southwest Film Exhibition arrived suddenly. I got myself a job, and for three months, I funded my hedonism by guiding children through a convoy of Aston Martins James Bond drove. I was beside myself.
While I had familiarised myself with Falmouth’s bus route, I had really only ever known three stops—college, home and the grocer’s. That summer, I decided to expand my horizons. I started going as far as the beach. I ate ice cream and got drunk in the afternoons. Sitting in the back of my friend’s car, we would leave Falmouth to discover Cornish woods and pasties. We reached Land’s End (a real place with landscapes that stagger). Fun does make time fly, but it also makes distances shorter. We impulsively drove to London for a concert once, and then on another afternoon, we went to Bristol for a sandwich.
In all the years that have followed, I have chased the breeziness of that summer, but unlike seasons, the carelessness of early youth is stubborn. It doesn’t always return. In my mind, there still could be no better summer destination than Cornwall, but this magazine’s writers and photographers are obstinate. They differ. According to them, there are 26 other places in the world that can compete. Even though I demur, we do have the same purpose at heart. We want you to escape these 300 days of our summer.
Shreevatsa Nevatia never travels without his headphones, coloured pens and a book. He is particularly fond of cities, the Middle East, and the conversations he has along the way. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Traveller India.