The miniscule winter Mumbai had is officially over. I made note of this in my mental diary as I stood outside the school gates at 2.30 pm, watching my body dissolve into great streams of sweat and pour itself down the drain. There go my electrolytes, there go my pheromones, there goes all the liquid I ingested in the course of the day, saving me trips to the bathroom. I would feel myself being wrung out like a mop. Like some giant hands had caught me end to end, and was twisting me thoroughly. I hurried into the little shade being cast by a tiny stunted tree and elbowed around for standing space with the approximately 400 other school gate moms who were also waiting there for the bell to ring and the apples of their individual eyes to pour out of said gates. When the child grows up, I must tell him the valiant sacrifices I have done for him, including standing in the blaze of the midday heat to ensure he doesnt run onto the road outside the school.
The weather forecast tells us we are at an average minimum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius with a maximum going upto 35, with humidity at 80 percent. Maybe I should just lie on blocks of ice all day. Maybe I should emigrate to the Artic Circle. Maybe I should invent a portable personal cooler in a bubble I could get into everytime I want to take myself outdoors.
The child has the right idea. He enters the house and divests himself of all clothing and climbs into a bucket of cold water with his assorted army of action figures. I would too, if a bucket would contain me. I make do by splashing lots of water on the face and lying down in darkened dimmed rooms with the fan on full speed. Putting the airconditioning on is reserved for the night, given that everytime I see the electricity bill in the letterbox, I have to be revived with smelling salts and some kind person’s stinky socks.
This is not even Mid March yet. By the time we get through May, I would be burnt cinder. I need a strategy in place if I am to survive without ending up like a mummified fossil. I therefore set about collecting a heat survival kit. The first of which is a cap. With a wide visor. This stays on my head the moment I step out into the sun. Never mind if it isnt colour coordinated with what I am wearing. In times of crisis one cannot be fussy about colour. Imagine generals dithering about going off to war because their caps didnt go with their epaulets. Yup. Or because their shoes werent coordinated with their gun holsters. You get my point?
The second item in my arsenal is a bottle of cold water. I sip on it through the day. In fact, I sip on it to ensure my kidneys are in functioning order given that the sun and humidity are conspiring to ensure that everything liquid contained within me should come to my skin’s surface and drip off in most unseemly manner, leaving absolutely nothing behind for the puzzled kidneys to work with.
I sweat like a fire hydrant. I could be a fire hydrant if I wore red, I’m stumpy enough. This has so far proved to be a totally undesirable trait primarily when one is meeting cool and soigne celebrity type, so one cannot even hand over a hand dripping with sweat to have the pleasure of bragging to the world that one has actually had the opportunity to shake hands with a celebrity. Never mind that said celebrity is physically recoiling from the horrific vision you present by actually hopping backwards in quick efficient manner and waving their hands in front of the face and shaking their head from side to side, which most people might interpret as a Get this horror away from me, but which you take to be definite signs of sociability and continue bearing down on them, until they finally hop backwards into an open sewer in which case, the positions get reversed and you start fleeing the scene. Therefore I need to stay undrippy with perspiration if I ever hope to shake celebrity hands in this lifetime.
Going back to the fire hydrant look, I think it could also be highly undesirable give the steadily increasing population of stray dogs in the city. You know, them stray dogs that run behind the car, barking their heads off and like The Joker says in The Dark Knight, “not knowing what I would do if I ever caught one.”
Maybe I should have my sweat glands removed. Might save me a lot in laundry charges. You know, those round circles under the armpits that show up in every photograph one gets clicked of oneself? Maybe that should be some surgery one could save the pennies for.
The third item I am searching for is a battery operated handfan. You see these anywhere? They look like mini windmills and start with an irritating whirring sound that you quickly forgive because they give you such a relieving blast of air. You sit or stand in whatever unventilated spot the Good Lord has placed you in, and switch on the contraption. You also carry a lot of spare batteries in your handbag. And you sigh a lot when you use this battery operated contraption leading to people around you giving you strange looks and edging away from you in a public situation.
The fourth item which I need to stock my refrigerator with is aam ka paana. Heard of it? If you havent, google it. It is a lifesaver.
The fifth is the change of the wardrobe. Light cottons. Thin weaves. Muls. Whites. I need to physically wrench myself away from my much beloved black turtlenecks. People can stop mopping themselves when I come into the vicinity, and yes, its a different level of hotness I embody. Therefore, its shopping time! *blows the bugles*
The sixth is a really big umbrella. What? What? What? I have no shame about being seen in public with an umbrella over my head if the sun is beating down hard. Its not just the rains one needs an umbrella for, havent you been reading up about the hole in the ozone layer and the UV A and B rays which together are doing their damnedest to ensure that they shrivel up our dermal layer, and cause our skin to drastically change colour to a brown that ensures we spend the next few months of our lives slathering on the haldi besan and dahi concoction to get back to presentable levels, by which time its March again and we are back to square one.
Sunblock. Full spectrum. Non greasy. Matte. Which is rather difficult to find. I recommend Neutrogena whole heartedly, and no they’re not paying me to say this. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 55. I slather it on. And stay cringing within shady environs given that the skin becomes the colour and texture of tanned leather after a ten minute exposure to the sun in its full glory. After a day in the sun, I could be put out in the garden as a scarecrow to scare away the birds from picking at the plants.
The best I think would be to spurn the world and remain cloistered in the house between 7 am to 7 pm. What was that story I read about the tribe that works in the night and sleeps at day? They sounded like they had got their fundamentals right.