Sunday morning brought showers to the joy of the residents of the Kathmandu Valley. The brief period of rain provided the people with the much-needed respite from the hot and dry days of May and June. The sweltering heat had been causing hardships to many people across the country. Kathmanduites were coping with the hottest days in their recent memory. On Saturday, Kathmandu’s maximum temperature neared 35 degrees Celsius. For some four decades, the average maximum daytime temperature of the capital city had hovered around 28 degrees Celsius in June.
This year’s rise in temperature, along with frequent power outages and water shortages, was taking a greater toll because rainfall had remained rare and erratic until mid-June. Several places outside the valley were also experiencing excessive heat conditions. Nepalgunj recorded the highest daytime temperature near 45 degrees Celsius. In Lumbini Hospital, the summer heat took the lives of two people undergoing treatment for heat-related illnesses. Weather experts had forecast no immediate rain or thundershower. The rain god, however, proved them wrong. The early morning downpour came as a cool surprise.
The rain was welcome not just for cooling off a bit. In our agricultural country, the month of Asar, that is June-July, means a time when no one would actually mind getting drenched. This is the time to prepare for paddy plantation. Farmers wait for the rains to soak their fields and plant the rice saplings by muddying them to the tune of asarai mainama… Our electricity generation depends on rainfall. Rains clean the dirty rivers and roads. In cities like Kathmandu, adequate rainfall also means better chances of receiving piped water supply in the homes. Every year, therefore, the monsoon brings hopes for millions.
The excessive heat conditions before the onset of the monsoon this year had made the people wait for rains with greater urgency. As the wait continues, the summer heat is threatening the elderly people, children and chronically ill patients. Those who need to work or play in the heat are also among the vulnerable lots. Dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid breathing and heartbeat, dry mouth, sticky saliva and dark yellow urine are some of the symptoms of heat illnesses. Doctors tend to advise common sense in treating these illnesses: drink plenty of fluid and cool yourself in the shade or under fans. Drinking or sprinkling water is the best solution for most of these conditions.