Let there be rain

MONSOON MUSINGS

Let there be rain

Sawan barse tarse dil
Kyun na nikle ghar se dil…

For some curious reason, of the zillion Bollywood rain songs, this one tops my list. These lines are from a very forgettable movie called Dahek, and the song is picturised on actors Akshay Khanna and Sonali Bendre braving the heavy monsoon showers, running on the roads and getting drenched on a scooter’s sidecar — just to meet each other. Because when it rains, the heart yearns, croon the singers, Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam. Why does the heart not want to get out of the house... they wonder.

Now, that’s familiar feeling. Not love’s longing, but the desire to stay home and do nothing, when it is raining cats and dogs. Ah, to stay curled up in bed all day, with a hot cuppa and a riveting book for company! Everything else becomes such a chore — getting to work, hitting the gym, eating healthy, keeping those dreaded water-borne diseases at bay, having a sunny disposition…

Whether you are a pluviophile (rain lover) or not, it’s a good idea to brace yourself for the change in weather. Unless you don’t mind being like those civic authorities whose shoddy monsoon preparedness is exposed every time it drizzles even for a few minutes.

For a happy, healthy, stress-free monsoon this year, let’s start with a checklist. It’ll help you get ready for your rendezvous with the rains.


Watch what you eat
Our metabolism tends to get sluggish and our immunity is low during this time of the year, making it critical to eat the right kind of foods. As much as it’s tempting to gorge on pakoras and samosas, what your body really needs is some easy-to-digest, home-cooked fare.

“During the rains, you must increase your intake of protein-rich lentils and lean meats; avoid leafy vegetables, red meats and curd,” says Shilpa Agarwal, a Mumbai-based nutritionist. “Also, as far as possible, try to eat warm meals, without having to reheat the food,” she adds.

Unlike in the summer, drinking too much water is not such a healthy idea during the monsoons. “Too much water can slow down your metabolism further,” explains Shilpa. However, nutritious soups and herbal teas are recommended - in moderation, of course.


Food files

  • Boil, filter and consume drinking water within 24 hours.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, as microbial activity increases in the monsoons. Avoid   eating salads and uncooked and junk food from roadside vendors and restaurants.
  • Include spices such as ginger and garlic in your daily diet to prevent digestion-related problems.
  • Cut down on the intake of chutneys and pickles to avoid water retention which is a common problem during the rainy season.
  • Add turmeric and fenugreek to your diet as they help improve the body’s immunity.

Move your body
Yes, we understand, it can’t be fun wading through all that slush and mad traffic to hit the gym. The easiest thing to do is stay home and be a couch potato. But for how long? Much of our lethargy and gloominess actually stems from a lack of physical activity, concur experts.

“Many people feel dull, irritable, sleepy or simply unenergetic when the sky is overcast,” observes Rajeev Rao, a Bengaluru-based personal fitness trainer. “Exercise or any physical activity you enjoy — is the best way to snap out of depression,” he maintains.


Studies have shown how the body releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, when we exercise. “The ‘high’ that we experience after a good workout helps to boost positive feelings and self-confidence. That’s the reason it’s considered a good therapy for clinical depression,” says Rajeev. 


If you are a beginner, it’s best to start with 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week. Once you are comfortable, you can increase the duration as well as frequency of the activity. And don’t be afraid to experiment! 


Fitness fundas
Continue your fitness routine — whether it’s cardio at the gym or playing tennis. And on days when it is pouring, you could try something different at home, like some basic stretching or skipping. How about some yoga or Pilates? Look for fitness DVDs or online tutorials, in case you need help.


Dancing is also a great way to keep your body active. Whether it’s Bollywood dance moves or hip-hop numbers that you love, it is an excellent form of exercise. All you need is some good music and no inhibitions.


Even household chores like sweeping or mopping can give you the benefits of a good workout, provided you do it mindfully and without cribbing. Gardening is another way to keep your mind and body active. 


Pamper yourself
Along with the much-needed relief from the scorching sun, the rain gods also bring humidity – and it is the ideal breeding condition for bacteria and fungus. Our skin and hair are, often, the first casualties.

   
The good news is that monsoons are considered the best season of the year, according to Ayurveda. It is a good time to detox the body without damaging any tissues. “The atmosphere is cool and the body’s pores are fully open, making it further receptive to herbal oils and therapies,” says Vidya K, a Bengaluru-based massage therapist.


From Ayurveda to Aromatherapy and exfoliating mud masks to special manicures and pedicures, the list of monsoon indulgences – for men and women – is rather exhaustive. We suggest you start with some window-shopping!


Treat in time
Go in for an Ayurveda Panchakarma treatment. It is known to eliminate toxins from the body and restore balance among the three doshas (the biological energies in our body and mind).


For those who like to dance in the rain – or have to commute through the slush – a foot spa is worth the indulgence. Feel the grime and dead skin get washed off, followed by a soothing peel, and a gentle foot massage. Foot reflexology is also worth a try. 


In case you can’t spare time for a spa, head to your local parlour for a head massage. The high humidity can wreak havoc with your hair and scalp. Some tender loving care is in order.  


Step out in style
Fold those denims and keep them aside for the next three months. The monsoons call for some wardrobe management. It’s time to bring out those blended cottons, nylons and easy-to-dry fabrics.
 
“The rains are a bad time to wear pure cotton, chiffon and crepe,” says Mansi Jain, a Delhi-based fashion designer. “Blended cotton, nylon and silk are better options since they don’t cling to the body when wet. Also, they dry faster,” she reasons. 


Colours, Mansi insists, are as important as the fabric. So, ditch the boring hues and go in for bolder shades – something that’ll brighten up a gloomy rainy day.    


Fashion wise
Give the greys, blues and blacks a break. Flaunt more yellows, oranges, pinks and other fun colours.

  • Swap your regular trousers and jeans with ankle-length pants or capris in blended cotton. For ladies, knee-length dresses and maxis in synthetic fabrics are also a good option.
  • Pack away your precious leather shoes and bring out those gum boots and colourful, water-proof footwear. 
  • Keep your makeup minimal. Avoid oil-based products if you can. It is better to opt for mineral-based foundations, waterproof eye makeup and matte lipsticks.

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