At the local meteorological observatory in Churu, multi-task serviceman (MTS) Bhagirath Mal snores away on a cot in the office till he is woken up by assistant meteorologist Jile Singh to record weather details at 2.30 pm.
Armed with a notebook and a pen, Singh heads to the roof of the small, single-floor building. He observes the cloud cover and notes the direction and speed of the air on an anemometer.
He then heads to a smaller, gated area on the campus. Once there, he opens a wooden box to find four thermometers. Squinting through a magnifying glass, he first reads the minimum temperature, 30.7 degrees Celsius. Then the maximum. “It says 47.6 degrees Celsius,” he says.
In the next hour, the day’s temperature peaks at 48.1 degrees Celsius. But Singh heaves a sigh of relief. For, the temperature here had gone upto 50.2 degrees Celsius a day earlier on Wednesday — the highest recorded in the district so far.
About 350 km southwest of Churu, a part-time observatory in Phalodi city, Jodhpur, recorded 51 degrees on Thursday, which would make it the highest ever recorded in the country. However, Jaipur meteorological department director A K Srivastava says, “We would not emphasise the Phalodi figures since it is not maintained by us.” Calling it “unreliable”, officials say it only throws up “round figures”.
Despite the record temperature, the streets of Churu aren’t deserted. Neither are bus stands, the railway station or hospitals. Hardly anyone can be heard discussing the heat. With a few precautions, and a lot of water and juice, life goes on as usual.