Once considered a luxury and now an essential in every household, I am the #UpparwalaInDemand, especially in the summer.

To beat the outdoor heat, I overwork from 9 to… Oh, well, I don’t have a log-out time, I log out only when I conk off and stop working. I labour hard so that people working, especially in offices, can turn in their best output. Those old days of hot and sweaty offices with fans whirring slowly and people drowsy from the excess heat are long gone. Now it is all ‘cool’ comfort, efficiency and productivity.

I am at the mercy of my owner who also has a battle to fight, the battle of keeping me at a mutually agreed temperature. All that everyone wants is to take control of the air in the room through me! People who breathe my air have different opinions about me. The first type is the “Please switch off the AC; we don’t live in an igloo” kind. The second type challenges you to turn off the AC, as “they can’t withstand living in a desert-like environment.”

The third type claims that an “AC isn’t natural.” Lastly, the fourth type questions the need for extravagance and wonders who will foot the bill? No wonder, it’s a challenge to get everyone to agree to the right temperature.

When things get heated up inside and out, I am there to help people keep their cool. Everything’s cool until there’s a power cut. That’s when they realize my true value. Everyone looks up to me and notices my existence! As soon as the power is back and I start working, everyone then forgets about me! But when there’s a debate about keeping the earth clean and green, then sure, I’m the biggest culprit etched in everyone’s mind!

People who own me use me as a status symbol to show off to their peers… All they really want is to look at their friends and say, “Hey, I am so cool!” when I’m the one doing all the work! I’m the one who is cool! My failure to make the space cool, would make my owner look decidedly uncool.

It doesn’t stop here. My comparison is then with my subordinates – fans and coolers as we know them to be. People who aren’t able to get their hands on me think of my subordinates as my equivalent. Ah! such a competitive world for the ACs to be in, you see.

In the present era of insane competition and chaos, my job is also to keep my users a little disconnected from the world that lies beyond the door, all that heat and dust, and provide them with what humans always look for – comfort, convenience and calm. Any place I am in, is considered hygienic because my proper functioning requires the enclosure of space, preventing excessive dirt and dust from entering.

But once all their needs are met, they come up with new wants!!! They want superior comfort! And the power to control me through a remote!! Humans!! There is no satisfying them.

Oh, and the woes of maintenance! Neglected filters, ignored ducts, and the lack of regular upkeep not only impact my performance but also reduce my lifespan. I wish I could communicate with you, pleading for regular attention and care. Alas, I am often condemned to suffer silently until the day I am deemed to be too worn out to be of service. But I will not feel sad just yet, as I know very well that my consumption will grow in the coming days, not just because of the change in climate and the prevalence of heat waves. It’s also due to the change in lifestyles and mindsets of consumers.

Who doesn’t look forward to the most comfortable way of living, enveloped within advanced technologies?

(Hamsini Shivakumar is a Semiotician and brand consultant and founder of Leapfrog Strategy. Naheed Akhtar is senior research analyst at Leapfrog Strategy.)