Cool mantra to survive Chennai's scorching heat

Weather-wise, the best does not lie in the sweltering months before us. The temperature is going to climb skywards, the occasional cool-down shower will not come by too often, the humidity is going to play merry hell with our sweat factor. The basic survival mantra is: lightly does it. Here are some ways you can get the dog days situation under control.

Vital timing. The old adage really does hold good. Try and stay indoors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make sure you stay indoors between 12 noon and 3 p.m., which is when the sun’s rays are at their most intense.

Proper screening. If you must venture out, and we do have our compulsions, slather on plenty of sunscreen on all your exposed parts. Sunscreens with zinc and titanium oxide are your best bet. Apply generously and at least half an hour before you head outdoors. See that your forearms, neck, nape, nose, chin, forehead and the tops of your feet are well protected.

All about closure. Keep your doors shut and your windows closed when the sun is at its hottest; open up the moment the intensity reduces. Of course, if you live where cool breeze flows, you need to keep your windows open to catch any passing draught.

Fan it. Use a fan with your air-conditioner to circulate the cool air through the room. Get the air moving. Do ensure your air-conditioner is serviced before the onset of summer. But switch it off at night and open your windows to the cool night air, instead. And remember to switch off all lights and power sources when they are not in use.

Smart eating. Consume light meals. Eat every few hours but keep the menu light like fruit platters with the fruit of the season (watermelon rules!), salads with lots of summer greens, and no mayo or creamy dressing. Swap parathas for airy phulkas. Eschew the masala dibba and sprinkle lemon salt or chaat masala on your food instead. And oh yes, onions are a coolant, so chomp as much of them as you can possibly bear to.

Drinking by the gallon. Down as much fluid as you can but remember, it has to be the right kind. We are talking water, gallons of it. Lassi, coconut water, nimbu spiked with honey, aam panna, kala khatta and other such good fluids. Fruit juices too, but only if you can’t find anything else. The bad fluids? Oh, alcohol, of course, and coffee, tea and colas. They are diuretics that can lead to dehydration. Drink whenever you are thirsty and it should be good…you will be thirsty often in summer.

Avoid, avoid. This list has the usual suspects: red meat, spicy foods, oily fare, food with heavy doses of masala in them. You knew this already. So, just avoid.

Dress code. Keep it light. Time to bring all the whites to the front of your wardrobe, all those diaphanous cottons, muslins, linen, the Kota dorias, ikats and chikankari. Loose fit and light colour is the summer code.

Summer style. Go fashionably light. Wear pastel colours and floral prints, sparkly frosts on your nails and lips. Leave off the metal buckles, grommeted handbags and other heavy accessories; trade them for raffia bags, straw boaters, light and bright strappy sandals. Stay far away from heavy metallic eye shadow, dark maroon lippers, and vampy black nail polish. Switch to light airy scents this summer. Looking cool is half the battle won!

Cap it. Cover your head when you are out in the sun. Stash a straw hat or a small umbrella that can act as a parasol, in your bag. While on matters concerning your head, wash your hair often and stay off the heavy mousses, sticky gels and voluminising foams.

Dark glares. Invest in a snazzy pair of sunglasses. You need to protect your eyes every time you are out in the glare; you might as well make a style statement at the same time.

Spray on. Keep a small bottle of water to spritz on your skin for an instant pick me up. Instant coolness as well as a moisture surge for your skin.

Light house. Keep your bed linen light. Pack away your heavy drapes and bring in the softly shaded cotton and muslin curtains instead. Roll up your precious heavy carpets and replace them with light dhurries. Light in colour and texture, you’ll breeze through summer.

Working out. That strenuous workout? Save it for when the weather gets cooler. However, if you don’t want to break your routine, pace your workout and take frequent rest breaks. While sweating is always good, if humidity levels are high, your body won’t release heat as quickly as it ought to. If you swim, make sure you enter the pool only before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.