The first thought that comes to my mind about Mumbai summers is sweaty collars, soaring temperatures and flailing tongues. The Kaali Peeli (cab) drivers, the fruit vendors and the flower sellers, everyone seems to be oppressed by the heat and they seem to function on short tempers. Every time summer rolls in, I imagine fleeing to snow caped mountains and shaded valleys (think Switzerland, Bhutan, Shimla and other snowy places synonymous with heaven on earth).
Unfortunately, this summer, I’m here in Mumbai, but rather than resign dejectedly to this fate, I have decided to don rose tinted glasses and love this season too! Of all the seasons, I must admit, summers are my least favourite, but this year I am adamant about learning to love the Mumbai summers and while I’m at it, I also want to up my quotient of self- love and self-care.
1. Sunscreen + Shades = Coolest Summer
Learning how to enjoy the Mumbai summers with a sun-on-my-face-and-wind-in-my-hair selfie! My new best bud- Sunheal Sunscreen
I always thought that sunscreen is for vacations on the beach, where the only intent is to bake in the sun, turn a rosy red and come back with great memories and even better tan lines, but I was grossly mistaken. When I consulted my dermatologist, I was told that applying a coat of sunscreen is absolutely necessary to protect the skin from harmful UV rays of the sun, even when you are not vacationing in a beach paradise. In fact, living so close to the equator means applying sunscreen 365 days, preferably twice to thrice in a day (between 8 am to 4 pm)
Summers are synonymous with shades, and call it psychology or a style mandate; shades always make me feel cool. It’s like suddenly a sheer curtain has been drawn in front of my eyes and the world I gaze at seems relatively calmer and cooler. Instantly, I feel equipped enough and fashionable enough to slay the heat and look gorgeous while I’m at it.
2. Upping the self -care quotient with Cucumbers and face- wash
Besides sunscreen, our skin also needs additional protection and even more pampering. There are so many YouTube tutorials about summer skin care routines and all of them seem enticing, but for someone like me who has little patience for beauty regimes, a beauty hack that I religiously follow is placing a slice of freshly cut cucumber on each eye, plugging in earphones, and take a 10 minute cat nap, where I zoom off into wonderland. This indubitably cools my eyes and rejuvenates my mind. #kktwins protip- Do this in the afternoon between 3 to 4 pm when you are at your sluggish best due to a midday meal!
The humidity and perspiration, which is a by-product of Mumbai Summer, tempts me to wash my face with face wash as often as I can, but my dermatologist was quick to point out that overusing face-wash will only accelerate sebum production, leading to clogged pores and acne. So I resist the urge to use a face-wash more than twice in a day. In case you have combination skin, which means that your skin is oily in the T-zone- (forehead, nose and chin) and dry elsewhere, then just splashing plain tap water on your face is a great way to feel refreshed.
3. Remember to be hydrated
If you are like me, who forgets to drink water at regular intervals and need reminding (yes, sometimes I forget to drink water because I think I am a camel :P) ) or if you work in an office where you do not feel thirsty due to the pseudo winter conditions created by super- fast air conditioning, then the water-minder app should definitely be downloaded on your smart phone/I-phone right now! I personally use this app (the free version) and vouch for its simple design and user friendly features.
A refreshing notification alert, that sounds like a singular water droplet falling from a verdant tree leaf and hitting the surface of a placid lake, serves as a gentle reminder to drink a glass of water at appropriate intervals and for a forgetful person like me, this app is an absolute boon. I have finally and thankfully forgotten how it feels to be parched due to my own forgetfulness.
4. Find a new love or get back to an old flame
By this, I mean sign up for a new hobby class that you find interesting or rediscover an old hobby that always made you happy and cultivate it. This can be any hobby that you couldn’t give time because of the rigours of studies or work. The newspapers are loaded with advertisements about unique hobby classes like aqua-zumba, Bachata dance class, baking workshops, canvas painting, slime-making and gardening. If you are spending your holidays in Mumbai, then this would be the perfect opportunity to make your summer memorable, productive and fun!
5. Give love to your tummy when it’s sunny
Summer is the season of mangoes and pickles. The joy of eating freshly made bright orange and red pickles like Chhunda (Sweet and tangy raw mango pickle), Gor Keri (Sweet and spicy raw mango pickle), Gunda Keri (Salted and spicy mango and cordia pickle), Keri (Gujarati mango pickle), Kabuli Chana Keri (Mango and white chick peas pickle) is unparalleled. Every summer my mother makes a fresh jar of Chhunda and I savor its sweet and tangy taste with every bite of thepla (an all-time favourite Gujarati staple food which is very similar to chapattis but differ due to its color ( yellow due to turmeric) and also contains Fenugreek leaves.
6. Potion of magic for a Non-Pickle Person
If you are not a pickle person then you can enjoy sipping on a delicious, syrupy saccharine water-based drink called Aam Panna, made from raw mangoes. This is my absolute favourite sherbet because it is super easy to make and appeals to the eye because of its refreshing shade of golden.
My mother makes the most amazing Aam Panna (Green mango drink) and although I’m sharing this recipe from her notes I’m making it my own by writing it in #KKTwinsstyle –
This is all you need 🙂
Raw mangoes (Aam) (Green and tangy)
Sugar (to sweeten your summer)
Water (the refreshing and rejuvenating elixir of life)
Cumin Seeds (roasted and ground to fine powder)
Black salt (Don’t get tricked by the name, it’s actually pink in colour!)
Black Pepper (a deliciously spicy black powder)
Salt (the amount that suits your taste buds)
How to concoct the kktwins style Aam Panna Syrup
Skin and chop the raw mangoes into medium sized pieces and place them in a bowl. The quantity of sugar should be equivalent to the bowl size of the chopped raw mangoes, thus achieving a ratio of 1:1. (We have twin bowl sets at home, so this makes my life easy!)
Now add water to the bowl of sugar and the quantity of water must be equivalent to half the size of the bowl (in the ratio of 1:0.5)
(This may seem like a class of ratio and proportion to you, but trust me, I have realised that while cooking, rigid measurements like litres and millilitres take the fun out of cooking. My great grandma used to say that a meal can only be sumptuous when it is cooked with love and care. After all, the measure of love is love without measure, so I’m ditching exact proportions and sharing with you’ll my own version of ‘measure’, which is full of love!
Boil the sugar and water till you see the water turn into a slightly thick syrupy constitution. As the sugar water starts boiling to resemble a concentrate, add the chopped raw mangoes to it.
To this mix, you need to add black pepper, black salt, powdered cumin and salt (the proportion depends on your preference, because all these ingredients will make the Aam Panna saltier and spicier, so add a suitable quantity to satiate your palate).
Boil this aromatic potion for five minutes and then allow it to cool down. When the concoction cools down to room temperature, crush the raw mango syrup, strain it and bottle it (preferably in a transparent jar) so that you can admire its golden- green hue and then refrigerate it.
How to drink the Aam Panna *kktwins style*
Anytime you feel the need to beat the heat, simply add 5 to 6 table spoons of Aam Panna syrup to a glass of cold water, and then shut your eyes while you sip on it to really feel the sweet, tangy and spicy flavors bloom on your taste buds.
You never know, like me, you may learn to appreciate the sweltering Mumbai summers, and in hindsight, you might even become nostalgic about the white fluffy clouds and robin blue summer skies once the grey overcast skies herald the homecoming of magical monsoons in our lovely Mum(bae)!