Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to the heat of Delhi

Vague recollections of thermal expansion from my physics classes at the high school: the volume of liquids expands on heating. The variation of volume is proportional to the variation of temperature. The degree of expansion depends on the fluid, and is expressed by the so called ‘coefficient of thermal expansion’*.

After the fresh of the Italian Alps in summer, here I am back to the torrid heat of the Delhi summer.

I have already bothered you with the description of the Indian heat in past posts**, and don’t want to become repetitive. But what happened to me at my return in Delhi is worth being told as it gives you a tangible image of what the heat in Delhi concretely means...

As a result of our visit to my father during our short trip in Italy (see post below), we were offered a bottle of olive oil - olive oil that he himself produces (100% organic). Only those that have lived abroad for a while know how precious a bottle of olive oil is for an Italian abroad.

Aware of the treasure that we were given, I took good care in carefully wrapping it up with newspaper papers to avoid it could break in my luggage during the trip back to India, I shamelessly lied to the Indian customs’ officials declaring I didn’t bring any organic food with me, and when I finally arrived at home at 3am after a whole day of travel, I proudly placed the bottle that safely crossed in the hold of my plane the skies of half-Europe and half-Asia on the sideboard of my kitchen where it could easily be seen.

The first day in Delhi after a week of Italy has been tough: few hours of sleep the night before, several things to catch up at work, a few hours of jet leg - that are not unbearable per se, but that echoed in my head at the end of the day. But when I was finally returning home at the end of this day, I was already anticipating the pleasure of a salad, a pasta, or a bruschetta dressed with such oil.

You can then imagine my feeling when I arrived home, entered in the kitchen and saw the bottle of oil that I had carefully placed on my sideboard in the kitchen the night before exploded because of the heat.

I have been pick-pocketed once. I have been stolen my laptop once. I left my mobile in the plane once. But in none of these cases I felt as I felt that evening, when I saw that precious irreparably spread on the floor of my kitchen...

(*) The coefficient of thermal expansion of olive oil is 0.00072/oC (more than three times that of water), that is to say that olive oil roughly increases in volume by 1% of its total volume every 14oC temperature increase. Now, assuming that the oil was bottled at the temperature of the Italian Autumn (let’s say 15oC), you can easily imagine how hot our kitchen is in these days...

(**) and


  1. Next time we'll put it into a can. No one drop of this pure, genuine, 100% organic olive oil must be wasted! Let's save bruschetta or salad!
    On the olive trees there are already many small olives for 2010 production...

  2. Can I post an online order for a bottle of 2010 (to be shipped to Mozambique)?


  3. surely you can! (and i am sure the producer will be happy to know he has requests from mozambique as well) - but do make sure of the temperatures in maputo first (even though i doubt it can be hotter than here...)

    btw: to avoid additional disasters, we put the bottle of wine* you offered us during your last trip to india in our fridge!

    (*) wine that has a coefficient of thermal expansion of 0.00110 (five times that of water - and about one and half that of olive oil!)

  4. some of you asked me who cleaned that mess.

    easy answer: pansigh, our 'factotum' (since i arrived in india, i've hardly washed a glass, let alone that mess. these are the little privileges of being an expat in india: am i becoming a spoiled colonialist?)

  5. I wish to know your "factotum". Dedicate a post for this "Hero".

  6. povero pansigh...

  7. bhe, mettiamola cosi: sarebbe stato peggio se fosse stata pece...