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The art of coping with summers

When the heat is on, some have their own mechanisms to deal with the discomfort

Ah, summer. How I just loathe you.

I grew up in Chennai, a city that has a year-round summer — the heat a sort of clingy companion you cannot evade. We dealt with it using artificial, environmentally unfriendly methods to ease our discomfort, shuffling from one air-conditioned environment to the next in air-conditioned cars.

A decade later, I found myself living and studying in Germany. But, alas, my hope of gaining respite from the heat for a good part of the year was not realised. The last few winters were barely cold, let alone freezing, but the summers were relatively brutal for the region. The Germans reacted in the same way when the sun came out — they stepped outside clad in minimal clothing to soak it all in, even frolicking as they developed the perfect tan. Meanwhile, I remained indoors until 5 p.m., when I could be certain the worst of the heat was over and it was safe to venture out.

I’m very sensitive to heat, more so than the average person. It’s an actual condition and not mere dramatics on my part, as I often tell my dismissive friends. On the warmer days in Germany, I carried sets of handkerchiefs (which I’d brought in bundles from Chennai) with me to soak up the sweat while I saw other people sauntering about, dry as a bone.

But despite all my bemoaning, I’m aware that as far as real-life problems go, this is a relatively trivial one. Over the years I’ve devised ingenious coping mechanisms to make summer just a little easier to handle. For one, my productivity seems to be directly proportional to rising temperatures as I spend 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. indoors, writing or painting. And that still leaves enough time to spend the milder evenings taking a stroll or catching up with friends and not feeling like a recluse. I also do indoor activities during the afternoons — hitting the museums, the cinemas, even sweating it out at the gym (now, that kind of perspiration I don’t mind).

But always the hardest part is grappling with the dreaded FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) that inevitably strikes. Convincing yourself that you’re having a good time indoors while the entire world seems to be living it up without you, can feel like a useless endeavour sometimes. I picture endless summer clichés — piña coladas, inflatable pools, shirtless lifeguards running in slow motion — until I remind myself that all I’m really missing out on is feeling like a polar bear trapped in a sauna. Besides, I live in Delhi now and the likelihood of those things happening is close to zero.

As always in life, there are some things you can control and others you’ve got to roll with. And so, in the hottest months, I put away my favourite trench coat wistfully.

yamunamatheswaran@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 12:49:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-art-of-coping-with-summers/article26899443.ece

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