It is neither any arithmetical figurative rigmarole nor even a daydream of being a self-conceived airy fairy story, but on the contrary, it is an excellent and glaring account of hard facts which simply cannot be challenged or for that matter refuted by anyone, be he or she in the east or west or south or north to be truly honest with you.
Before I jump to the main subject which is to be discussed in the subsequent lines, I would like to attract your indulgence and draw your attention to the fact that surprisingly, the digits 4 and 5 are commonly used over here in reverse, and although there only is a difference of 9 between the figures of 45 and 54, the result is really very horrifying and terrifying indeed. During June 2015, Kuwait, which is a hot country, experienced a very hot and sizzling season for a few days, when one fine day the temperature abnormally touched even 54 degrees, which is quite unusual in a day to day sense, but nevertheless not even a single person was reported to have died in Kuwait on the day when it heated up to 54 degrees.
On the other hand during the same days, the temperature was running 45 degrees in Pakistan, where quite a sizeable number of people died due to the heat. Kuwait’s roads, it must be clarified in the very first instance, are neither covered nor air conditioned or air cooled – rather all the roads, streets and lanes are exposed to the sun exactly like one finds them in India and Pakistan, meaning that all road users in Kuwait face the brute brunt of the sun’s heat, but yet no one even faints, needless to talk of dying of heat strokes. But regretfully, the situation is very much awful in Pakistan. First of all in Kuwait, road users are either not exposed to the sun or may be exposed for a very short while like while crossing the road or entering an office or shop for that matter.
Hardly anyone is seen walking on Kuwait’s roads and no one cycles as well, so the chances are very low to be exposed to the sun, whereas in India and Pakistan, some economically downtrodden people are obliged to walk some distances whereby they face the naked sun. Quite a good number of people who do not carry big bags are obliged to cycle from house to office or college or shopping or meeting relatives and friends etc, which is quite natural and the poor cannot avoid it.
Here in Kuwait, all buildings – whether residential or commercial – are either fully air-conditioned or at least partially air-conditioned. Shops and buses are air-conditioned and therefore if anyone is exposed to the sun for a while, he or she gets relief by entering any of the places mentioned above and thus the heat’s effect is neutralized. Regretfully due to poverty, such amenities are not available in Pakistan and therefore the people there do not get any sort of respite from the scorching sun and they have to face the brunt of it. It must be mentioned that in Kuwait we do see motorcyclists who are fully exposed to the sun and do absorb the 54-degree heat in their bodies, but nothing to worry at all.
They are either riding very expensive motorcycles costing well in the four figures, as some of their motorcycles are more expensive than cars, so such motorcyclists are from rich families and they take breaks to cool themselves by entering a coffee shop or grocery shop if not a house or office, so they are fine riding their motorcycles. The other category of motorcyclist is delivery men supplying food to the doors of those who place orders. They leave their air-conditioned restaurants and ride short distances and then deliver the food under shade, so their exposure to the heat is very limited.
Power outages are very common, which over the passage of time has become quite an ordinary phenomenon in Pakistan, where the electricity supply is disconnected on a daily basis for a few hours if not many hours, which piles more miseries on the poor who curse their fate for belonging to the have-nots, who for very obvious reasons simply cannot even think of switching over to a generator when the electricity supply is snapped off. One can very well imagine the hell they must be facing when the outside temperature rises to 45 degrees and there is no electricity in the house to operate the ceiling or pedestal or table fan to get some relief.
During the current summer season, about 1,300 people have already lost their lives in Pakistan due to the hot summer season temperatures soaring to 45 degrees, but at the same time in Kuwait not a single soul died even though the temperature rose to as high as 54 degrees. God forbid, what could have been the scenario, I dare ask, if Pakistan had seen 54 degrees instead of 45?
By Iqbal Hadi Zaidi