Discussing the weather has always been the best way to fill up an awkward silence, but these days discussions about the heat does not fill up awkward silences in conversations anymore, they are the topic of conversation! Everyone seems to be complaining about how hot it is! Arre bhai, jab garmi ka mausam hain, toh garmi hi hogi na! Summers have always been hot. Even ten years back and they will continue to be hot even 10 years later. Why do we crib so much about the heat now? Is it because we travel in air conditioned cars, sleep in air conditioned bedrooms and work in air conditioned offices – is that why it is so annoying for us when we have to spend even a few minutes without the icy cool breeze of the AC? Have we conditioned our bodies and mind to be accustomed to an air conditioner? I agree it is really hot this time around, but there are always ways to beat the heat and also make the most of it!
As kids, summer was our most favorite season of the year! Summer brought along with it so many other happy things – mangoes, ice creams, days devoted to playing and fooling around with other kids in the locality. We used to play outdoors the entire day, unperturbed by the harsh Dilli ki kadakti dhoop aur garmi. After coming back home, my mother would always give us a piece of jaggery mixed in water to drink as it helps to maintain the balance in blood sugar and also provides instant energy. Back then we would just be happy to eat the jaggery and not worry about the therapeutics involved. Summer vacations would be like food paradise for our family. My mother would start preparing a hundred different things. Instead of cribbing about how hot it was, we would make the best of it! There are certain things that are best done in summer. Families in the neighborhood would come together and make papads and pickles of different types and then put them out to dry on the terrace. Aam ka panna and gajar ki kanji were my favourites since childhood. Everything was made in bulk and stored in large jars from which my brother and I would steal a taste every now and then. Mangoes would be a regular feature on the menu along with watermelons, muskmelons and lychees. Playing the entire day would be tiring and we would keep hydrated by having something to drink all day long. My favourites were and continue to be shikanji and sugarcane juice and not to forget the cold milk, flavoured with rose syrup that I used to have after the siesta in the afternoon.
We should be happy that we Indians are blessed with plenty of sunshine during summers, while people from other parts of the world wait for some sunshine so they can get tanned! This is also the best time to incorporate fresh veggies and fruits in our diet. It is best to buy fresh produce from your local sabzi market. Avoid heavy meals and stick to fresh juices and frozen fruit sorbets, summer salads, cold soups, etc. as the summer heat does tend to make us feel less hungry. This is also good for people who want to lose some weight. The heat makes you sweat more which helps you detoxify your body in a very natural way, it is like a very natural sauna! Going out in the sun and soaking in the Vitamin D is a great way to regulate blood sugar levels and also to help bones absorb the calcium for our body. But, make sure that you do this in the early morning hours as the sunlight then is the best for our body. It is possible to benefit from this heat. Natural sunlight increases the oxygen content in human body and also has a great effect on fitness, muscular development and stamina. Besides this, for the rest of the day, rub on a little sun tan lotion if you don’t want to get tanned, wear your head gears (caps, hats) or take an umbrella that would protect you from the sunrays and keep sipping on the essential fluids – water, coconut water, fresh juices are what I would suggest. Most of the North and South India and places like Rajasthan and Gujarat have very high temperatures between March and June, but thankfully for me, my current home Mumbai is not that bad when it comes to the heat. The humidity and the sea breeze keep it pleasant as compared to other places that are affected by the hot dry winds also called loo.
I want to end this post by sharing an incident I heard from a friend of mine. So, this friend has had the pleasure of working with Mr Amitabh Bachchan. They were shooting in Chennai during the month of May and this was before the times of air conditioned vanity vans. Mr Bachchan was waiting for a shot, sitting on a chair and reading a book – seeming oblivious to the heat! My friend who had just shouted at the producer for not providing him with an AC room, walked up to Mr Bachchan and asked him how he was so unperturbed by the heat. “Are you not feeling hot?” he asked. Mr Bachchan replied by saying “If you put the thought in my mind then yes, if not then no.” Since that day I haven’t heard my friend crib about any kind of discomfort. He says – if Mr Bachchan can do it why can’t we!
So, get out of the house and enjoy the sun while it is still bright and shining. The monsoons are going to start in a few months and then we will find ourselves cribbing about how rains make our lives so inconvenient! Till then enjoy the summers in the right spirit, and I’m sure these recipes will help you do so!
|Chilled Melon Ball Salad|
|Tender Coconut Kulfi|