My brother-in-law sent us an email, purporting to have been written by a doctor in Mumbai - one of those emails which gets forwarded from one person to another - and claiming that the juice of papaya leaves is helpful in treating dengue fever. Whether it's true or not, here is the rationale:
It's believed one's body would be overheated when one is down with dengue and that also caused the patient to have fever. Papaya juice has cooling effect. Thus, it helps to reduce the heatiness in one's body, thus the fever will go away. I found that it's also good when one is having sore throat or suffering from heatiness.

I've always been interested in traditional Indian medicine's idea that some things are heating, and some cooling, and that an imbalance between the two causes illness. For instance, mangoes are hot. If you gorge on mangoes and get diarrhoea, it is because you have overheated your system. Some foods are obvious: chillies, onions, garlic are hot, yoghurt is cooling. Others, like the mangoes, are not so obvious, at least to me.

I never knew what to call the condition of heat overload, and now I do: 'heatiness.' I think this is a great word, with many applications. In this fast-paced world of ours, there is altogether too much heatiness; and papaya leaf juice, yoghurt or any other cooling substance is certainly worth trying, to get the temperature down.

A Day of Death

It’s All Soul’s Day today – for Roman Catholics, at least; not for my cook, Mary, who’s evangelical. I drove past the Quibble Island Cemetery today (which was an island in the Adyar river delta once, but is so no more, thanks to all the development in recent years) and saw that the gates had been thrown open, and that flower vendors had lined up on either side, selling garlands of yellow marigolds. A steady stream of people walked through the gate, garlands in hand, to visit their dead. A loudspeaker is blaring out hymns.

When it rains heavily in Chennai, as it did last week, and the soil becomes soft and loose with water, big roadside trees topple over. In our own garden, three eucalyptus trees – twenty years old and at least 55 feet tall - began to lean over our neighbour’s wall, breaking it in one place and threatening to crash down on their roof.

Today we brought seven men in to cut the trees down. We feel terrible about it; R and I both cried when the first tree fell. (Mary was practical: she said, "Such big, thick trees -- we'll get good money for them.")

The men worked so hard all day long – small men all muscle and bone, wearing tucked up plaid lungis, shirtless, barefooted; and with only a long rope, a two-man handsaw and some machetes for equipment. In between feeling unhappy and worrying about whether the job could be done with no damage to the neighbour’s property or ours (ten clay tiles smashed on our side, and a number of smaller plants and branches of remaining trees crushed and broken), I was full of admiration for their industry and skill. But it feels like a day of death, all right.