Too hot at home? Stroll in a mall, sleep in your car

Too hot at home? Stroll in a mall, sleep in your car

Ruchi Jyotsna, a housewife in north-west Delhi’s Pitampura area, had been gifted an induction cooker by a relative about a year ago. But with no shortage of cooking gas, she never needed to use it. Until a few days ago.

Her sister-in-law called to tell her about a trick to beat the heat in the kitchen. “I plugged in the induction cooker in my air-conditioned room and set up a temporary kitchen there. There were no flames and no heat,” she says.

Soaring temperature combined with power crisis has forced Delhiites to seek shelter through different means; some usual, others innovative. 

Air-conditioners in cars are coming in handy. Janakpuri-resident Deepa Vijjan and her husband spent two entire nights in their parked car a week ago. Those were the days several parts of the city witnessed frequent and long power outages.

“Each time there would be a power failure, we would go and sit in our air-conditioned car and return to our flat when power returned. But the outages were so frequent that we decided to sleep in the car itself,” says Vijjan.

Preparing for competitive examinations at west Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh, Alok Ranjan found the power outages extremely disturbing. Just below his rented accommodation is an ATM. He and his friend decided to spend a night in the air-conditioned room. 

“We went to the ATM room with our books thinking we would study inside for some time and doze off gradually. Instead we found the room already occupied by some other people,” says Ranjan. 

When uninterrupted power supply was restored, it was the scorching heat that troubled Ranjan. That gave him an excuse to gather a few friends and make frequent visits to air-conditioned bars every evening. “The heat was substituted by a get-together and beer,” he says.

While they are very popular with the low-income groups, the power of battery-operated fans is being felt even in relatively posh localities of east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar. 

“Frequent power cuts at night don’t allow my three-month old child to sleep well,” says Ashish Batra, an IT consultant. He says his new battery-operated fan cradles the baby to sleep.

For some families, power cuts have also meant frequent eating out or ordering food at home. 

“My kids just wait for a power cut to pick up the phone and order pizzas,” says Anjali Madan, a Saket resident and a mother to two sons, aged five and 10. “They tell me that they are doing this so save me from the trouble of cooking in the dark,” she says.

East Delhi resident Kapil Chawla says power cuts often gives his family members an added reason to rush to a mall or to eat out. “My house in Laxmi Nagar is at a walking distance from V3S Mall and my family members usually end up spending hours at food joints and eating a lot,” he says.

“The tendency of my family to eat out is bringing good business to the shops but it has started disturbing my monthly budget as the blackouts are happening too frequently,” says an NGO’s advocacy officer.

Dhaba owners and restaurant owners in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar admitted that power cuts increased their sales. “Our home delivery orders jump whenever there is a power cut,” says Ashok Sharma, an eatery owner.

At the students' ghetto of Laxmi Nagar, the seasonal business of renting coolers and air-conditioners is flourishing. 

But what is new is hostels ordering generator sets. “All that the students look for is whether they would get 24-hour electricity,” says a caretaker of Ankit House hostel for boys.