Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tropical Beat

In my opinion, the term 'tropical belt' is a double entendre*. Apart from the area around the equator, it's a perfect term for that region on your body just above the hips. They have a lot in common. Both have a tendency to bulge, and in summer, you wish they didn't exist. If you're not a nudist, you know what I mean. You sit down, get up and there's this horizontal stripe of sweat running around the front of your shirt or top. See? Tropical. Belt.

In India, we like to say we have no seasons. We can handle it. We don't need snow. We're tough. We chew iron and stare down lions. We walk through fire. In reality though, we're little bitchy kids. We know we have seasons. Mild summer, Hot summer and Sterilizing summer. We walk around in December (mild summer) with a smile but by mid March (hot summer), we start crying. Year after year, we talk about how much hotter it is and we look at each other in despair as we moan, "Oh my God, what's it going to be like in May (sterilizing summer)?!"

Somehow, we survive. The men start walking around the house topless, and the women stare at the men with hatred. Everybody sweats. Almost everybody, actually. But I'm not going to talk about the minority here- they don't deserve it.

Some of us are blessed with scalp sweat. This is when needlessly overactive sweat glands on the scalp produce so many liters per minute that, like Moses parting the sea, the sweat literally parts one hair in a few dozen places and rivulets stream down a person's face. What activates these glands? A hard hour of toil in the field? A hike up a steep hill? No. Turning my head 45 degrees to the right is enough. Instantly, my hair is plastered to my head, my face acquires a ghastly, ghostly complexion, my clothes crumple themselves and my posture is roughly concave, with my shoulders looking at my feet. I'm picturing this refreshing scene as I write it, and it strikes me that this should have been in my 'Why I'm unmarried' write-up. It explains a lot.

These days, I exit the shower like I'm a low-life trying to convince a cop that I'm not dangerous. No sudden movements. Walk slowly, hands spread out. Look straight ahead. Preserve a neutral expression. Even a twitch of the mouth might set things off. Just be cool. Don't be a hero.

When I see these people who look cucumber fresh after a day out, I don't feel bad. Really. I'm perfectly fine with the fact that the life is unfair. But it's hard not to take it personally. That's why I try to avoid standing next to them or talking to them. When your fingers are constantly working on your face like windshield wipers, it's annoying to have to talk to someone who sits there calmly with one bead of sweat daintily glistening on their cheek. That drop is a mockery to your very existence.

This is also why I love animals. Look at dogs. No sweating, just panting. Look at pigs. No sweating, just wallowing in mud. Or elephants. Just a bit of ear flapping. Now that's smart evolution. I could do all that, you know, instead of sweating. Pant, wallow in mud and flap my ears. Really increase my market value. Now you know why I call this summer 'sterilizing'.

*double entrende: a word/phrase with two or more meanings

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