June 2015 was deadly. It killed 1200 people in Karachi. Killed. People DIED of dehydration and heat stroke. It was THAT bad. It was a scorching sweltering sizzling summer. Even for the well-endowed the weather was debilitating to say the least. It was an I-can’t-think-I-can’t-breathe-don’t-talk-to-me-give-me-some-ice oppressive heat. I remember once I was so frustrated with the power breakdowns I just wanted to stand under the shower with clothes on. Plus it was Ramazan. I wasn’t fasting as I was nursing my little one but it was so frustrating to hear about all those dying because they were perhaps too scared to ask for water (or have a sip of water out on the streets in the Holy Month). There is actually legislature in Pakistan which condemns people from publicly eating and drinking in Ramazan and it is titled the ‘Ehteraam-e-Ramazan Ordinance’. I’m not even joking. I am not one to eat and drink in front of someone fasting but honestly, there being a law to protect the sensibilities of those who are, that is just taking the piss.
Ok, I went into a total tangent there. So imagine that debilitating heat, power failures, people fasting and not gaining access to water and dying, helplessly watching all those people dying AND also taking care of a three-month old infant amongst all this. In retrospect I am sure he wasn’t feeling as hot as I feared he must be feeling. This year I am dreading the summers even more because there are predictions that it may be worse than last year. Now what I hate more than facing a bad situation are the soothsayers who make random predictions about things being ‘even worse than before’. The foreboding makes it so much more menacing, don’t you think? Why can’t we just cross the proverbial bridge when we come to it? I think it’s a quirk that runs in our blood as a nation. You always hear stuff like:
- Oh you think one baby is tough? Wait till you have another one..
- Oh you think O’ Levels are tough? Wait till you get to college
- Oh my God this year the rozas are going to be longer and hotter, what will we do?
- How will we manage when prices go up further, the current inflation is bad enough as it is..
- You think your mum is strict, wait till you get married and have a mother-in-law
In no other country is FOREBODING a national hobby. Living in fear of a menacing future without thinking about how the present moment is ruined with such pessimism. We take joy in freaking ourselves out, but more so, those around us.
Oh well. Enough about that. Let’s see what we can do about it to help ourselves and those around us. Let’s learn from our past mistakes. Here’s a list stuff we can do:
Keep a matka outside your home with a plastic cup for passersby to drink from. If ever you happen to be outside while people are drinking from it, ask them if they need ice.
If you have a carpenter/plumber/electrician/AC repairman/paint or polish/similar job dudes coming to your place, pull them aside and ask them very frankly whether or not they are fasting and if they would like to have something to eat or drink. You would be surprised how many people don’t fast and are too scared to ask for even a sip of water.
The cleaning lady who comes over every day, try not to be too hard on her. If there is a room in your house that doesn’t need cleaning, let her skip it. Please donate some used lawn joras and ask her to wear them in the summers. Most days you will notice she will be wearing a thicker fabric like linen as it’s more durable. Educate her about it.
Get a thermos for the cleaning lady and freeze some ice for her to take home every day. She most probably does not have a refrigerator
Also ask her if she knows what to do if someone in her family is near-dehydration. Teach her basic survival skills before the dehydrated person gets professional help. Here is an image to help you explain:
Plan ahead. Go, at this very moment and obtain a summer wardrobe full of light cooling colors. You will feel a lot better with some new pastel shades. Kindly don’t get into the mad lawn rush and embarrass the entire nation. Nothing is worth that.
Get your kids’ wardrobe ready as well. Summer shorts and sleeveless tops are the only way to go.
Get all your appliances serviced, anything that is likely to go bust and leave you devastated: the air conditioners at home and in the car, the refrigerator with special attention to the freezer in particular, the generator and the UPS. Make sure you have the kind of curtains that make it easier for the AC to do its job. If your lounge or drawing room doesn’t have curtains, now is the time to invest in some. Get insulation for your roof. There are cheaper alternatives i.e. get marble tiles and place them on the roof, or even the flatter ceramic pots placed upside down will make a huge difference.
Get a paddy pool or a tub and place it in the lounge for your little one to splash around in. Honestly, you can’t depend on the electricity and the anticipated power failures. You have to plan for all contingencies. There will be days that will be so hot; your little ones won’t come out of the pool all day, preferring to have their meals in it as well. Let them.
In the same vein, get all your swimming gear ready. Doesn’t matter whether or not you know how to swim, just sitting in the pool will do you good. There are many private clubs that offer access to certain sports facilities for a nominal fee. You don’t have to break the bank.
Hats, sunglasses, light scarves, trustee water bottle – make sure you have all these at hand whenever you need to step out for a quick trip. Keep your bag ready.
Most important- drink up. Have tons of water even if you don’t feel the need. Besides water, also try and have energy drinks because as you sweat your busy is depleted of essential salts. Fluids first. Don’t forget to keep your kids hydrated. Have lots of fruit. And try to avoid heavy meals.
When you feel like you are losing your shit and the veins in your head are throbbing due to the heat, head for the nearest loo and wash your face and neck and especially the back of the neck. Also wet your hair. This really helps cool you down immediately.
Avoid stepping out during rush hour (be heedful of when schools open in the morning and especially in the afternoon). Nothing worse than getting stuck in traffic on a hot day. Avoid at all costs.
Try all these but most important, try to keep your wits about you. Don’t ‘lose your cool’ or get into silly arguments because you can’t take the heat. Whenever you feel the urge to lash out just remember it’s the heat talking and has nothing to do with you and the situation.
Focus on the good that comes with summer:
- Cool lawn ensembles
- Longer days so much more manageable in the day
- Enjoying the outdoor in the evening
- No colds & flues
- Not having to shovel snow
- Lots of lemonade and icelollies
- No bundling up in layers before stepping out
- Swimming for you and paddy pool parties for the kids
(I DO realize more than half the list is fruit, sorry for those who don’t like fruit). Keep calm and hope you have a great summer!