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For heat relief, India turns to 'desert coolers'

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Hot? You think you know hot?

Texans may brag about the biggest heat. New Yorkers can complain about their scorchers. But during the summer, don't wag those chins at anyone living in New Delhi.

In the United States, people moan and melt if the mercury rises above 100 degrees F. Here, a cold front is when it drops below 100.

So whether by human perspiration or divine inspiration, the local population here - numbering in the several hundreds of millions - has developed a solution to nature's annual summer sizzle.

Indians call it "the desert cooler." Or, in a different vernacular, the boxy refrigerator-sized contraption is known as "the poor man's air conditioner."

While not as effective as standard A/C, desert coolers do take the edge off the heat. They are also cheaper, use far less electricity, and don't need environmentally harmful chemical coolants.

All over Delhi, and much of the rest of the country, the popular water-fed coolers jut out from the backs of apartments, servants' quarters, and government offices.

At the end of the day, as the sun goes down, millions draw the shades and gather in front of the cooler fan for traditional summer fare like watermelon and lime water. If you are one of the 98.5 percent of the population that can't afford iced tea at the Hyatt, chances are you and your family will eat, discuss local issues, watch TV - even sleep en masse - lulled by the breezes of this local wonder machine.


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