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Micro Narrative
Clean, Cool Air:
Health and Air-Conditioning in India (1920s–1960s)
Priya Jain
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“An Interesting Air Conditioning Installation!” read the title of an article in the June 1937 issue of the Volkart Brothers Engineering News, a monthly newsletter of the Swiss trading firm Volkart Brothers, printed at their head office in Bombay (renamed Mumbai in 1995). The article described one of the first installations in the country, at a private office in Bombay, of the Carrier Weathermaker type air conditioner. The text emphasized the unit’s ability to thoroughly clean the “dusty, unhealthy” air from the bustling colonial city outside—and ended with the ironic admission that liberal quantities of this so-called “fresh air” were required to “dilute the smoke from cigars and tobacco” generated in the now-sealed interior.

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