Gina writes:

Starting about two weeks ago, the temperature in Koraput dropped to about 45F (8C) at night and 75F (25C) during the warmest part of the day. You're probably thinking, "Big deal! That sounds pretty nice!" Well, let me tell you why it's not so nice.

Basically, India's buildings are structured to withstand and temper the heat, not the cold. When considering construction, the cold temperatures that come for only 1-2 months per year aren't as important as the hot temperatures that are there during 6 or more months of the year.

  • Floors are concrete or marble, which keeps the surface cooler in hot temperatures, but also COLD in cool temperatures. Since shoes are not worn inside most buildings, warmth can just drain out through the bottoms of your feet.
  • Windows are not sealed when they're closed, so cold air seeps in through any gaps in the wooden shutters. In almost every building I've seen, there are vents at the top of the walls that are permanently open to the elements. They let the heat escape, which is good in the summer and bad in the winter.
  • Since the buildings are made to deflect the heat, the concrete walls and floors take a long time to warm up. As I write this, it's 11 a.m. and 55F (13C). I'm wearing socks and a sweater, but am still chilly. It will warm up a bit in a few hours, but then the temperature will plummet again at about 4 p.m.
  • Even if you feel cold inside, it's pretty much guaranteed that the sun is out and is warm but not hot. A few trips outside each day do wonders for the body! Actually, it's strange to walk outside for awhile and feel hot and sweaty and then come inside to feel cold.
  • It probably doesn't need to be said, but NO, the buildings are not heated in any way!

The other thing to remember is that we don't have hot water. We don't have a geyser either (an electric heater for water to pass through before coming out of the tap). I broke down a few weeks ago and started heating water on the stove for a bucket bath. Corey is superhuman and just started doing so this week. The hot bucket bath is nice, but the uncloseable window in the bathroom makes it slightly less of a luxury.

To deal with the cold, Indians have some interesting clothing solutions. Children and adults both wear earmuffs (and usually camouflage-patterned). They're threshhold for cold must be pretty low, because the earmuffs can be seen in abundance whenever the temp dips below 60F (15C).

Also popular here is the hat/scarf combo piece or the ski mask style hat. People even wear them while sitting at their desks in the office!

What seems to be the fad this year is for men to wear fuzzy, colorful vests. Corey wants one, but it's just not in our budget...

Men wear jackets to keep them warm, but I've never seen a woman wearing a jacket. I've seen a few sweaters over saris, but only shawls instead of jackets. Shawls let in cold air when I wear them, so I've worn the same 2 sweaters for weeks now!

The forecast for later in the week is warmer, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. In the meantime, be grateful for your hot water, heated homes, and carpeted floors!