With temperatures at a record high, and expected to plateau or even climb over the next week, we’re pretty much in for a roast. Operating on the assumption that not everyone has the luxury of being holed up in an air-conditioned environment round the clock, we’re going back to our roots to bring you five fool-proof ways to get cooler in this heat.
Cotton for the win
Forget those silks and georgettes and wool suits (ugh!). When the sun overhead is turning you into a human frying pan, you want flowy, loose-fitting garments in light, breathable fabrics. Unless you’re working in an office where the suit and tie is de riguer (and chances are, those offices have air-conditioning anyway, so you’re cool), switch to the good old cotton panjabi, and you’ll instantly feel the difference. For women, if saris are too complicated (although a light taat or kota sari is just the ticket in this weather), you too, can throw on a panjabi, add a dupatta and jewellery to add a lady’s touch, and you’re good to go.
While on the subject of cotton, let’s not forget the ol’ faithful, the gamcha. When there’s a powercut underway, wrapping a wet gamcha around your head could mean the difference between heatstroke and safety. Keeping a gamcha handy, whether for mopping up sweat, or protecting your head from direct sunlight, or dipping it into water and wrapping it around your head or the back of your neck, might very well save your life.
Hand-held mini fans held close to the face might provide a lot of relief, until their batteries run out. And then you’re left flapping a copy, hoping to generate a little breeze while you wait for the power to come back, or for your CNG to reach its destination, whichever scenario applies. This is where the traditional haat-pakha, or hand-fan comes to the rescue. The ones made from dried palm leaves are the lightest, and most efficient. The western-style hand fans have nothing on ours. If your tote bag is big enough to accommodate one, it’s worth keeping it handy.
When even your mattress seems oppressively warm, it’s time to resort to rustic measures. Sheetol pati, which is a local rattan mat, has been used for generations, to sleep on and stay cool. The natural weaves wick away the sweat, and feel cool against the skin. Sleeping on the floor might take a little getting used to for those accustomed to the comfort of a soft bed, but once you do, there’s no better way to stay cool through the night, especially when you don’t have an AC.
No to soda ….
Forget the soda and overpriced mocktails. Rehydration is key to surviving the heat, and you’re far better off sipping daab er pani (coconut water), tamarind juice, sugarcane juice and ghol (made from blending water, yoghurt and salt/pepper to taste). Not only will these drinks, served chilled, refresh and replenish you, they’re far easier on your stomach and skin than fizzy drinks.
Nature has a way of taking care of its own, and just so, our country is blessed with an abundance of summer fruits that address the very problems associated with the heat. While we’re still waiting for mangoes and jackfruit, a variety of citrus fruits are already available in the market, and definitely worth taking advantage of. From grapefruits to pomegranate, to lotkon, koromcha, aamra, to name a few, there is no shortage of succulent, flavourful snacks to munch on. Skip the greasy puris and shingaras, and reach for the fruits, and you’re less likely to end up with heat induced stomach problems.