My family and I are visiting my parents this summer for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Both my brother (also an NRI or Non Resident Indian) and I are dreading the Delhi summer heat. Every time we meet, the conversation veers off to the topic of getting roasted in the heat …and stays there. “I’m going to park myself in front of the a/c in the room and not leave,” my brother swears. My parent’s home, like many homes in New Delhi does not have central air conditioning – individual air conditioners have to be mounted separately at considerable effort and expense.
My other brother, who’s currently an expat, working and residing with his family in Gurgaon, Delhi visits the Bay Area every summer. The Bay Area doesn’t usually warm up until July or Aug. and can be counted on for unsettled weather, even a leftover winter storm or two. Last year when my brother was visiting the U.S., a cool gust of wind rolled in from the hills, as we sat in my backyard. I and my kids shivered in the 70 degree summer climate of the Bay Area, while my nephews, hailing from the 112 degree heat of Delhi clapped their hands and laughed in jubilation. “What lovely weather!” they proclaimed, in sheer delight.
The blistering 120 degree weather is not the only menace that plagues Delhites in the summer. Heat winds called loo that emanate from the Rajasthan desert create a risk of heat strokes, heat exhaustion and a real danger of dehydration. So to prepare ourselves for the ruthless Delhi heat, I conducted an unscientific and somewhat goofy poll of how people keep their cool:
1. Drink plenty of water and other fluids. The Indian version of lemonade or nimbu pani and coconut water are popular thirst-quenchers;
2. Throw yourself in the pool;
3. Eat a lot of salads and fresh fruits like watermelon;
4. Live on homemade mango ice-cream and chilled Rabri-falooda. (an ice-cream-like desert) Ymm!
5. Use an umbrella, for shade, if walking.
6. Keep a hand-held fan when outdoors so that you don’t get hot under the collar;
7. Wear light-colored cotton clothing;
8. Avoid moisturizer, specially if you have oily skin;
9. One good thing about the heat – it’s the best way to shed those extra pounds! In the blazing heat, no one has the appetite for oily or fried foods. Fruits and light food items are a salve to the stomach;
10. If all else fails, head off to India’s famed hill stations and enjoy their breathtaking beauty!