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Home Cover Features Enjoy the Monsoon Magic

Enjoy the Monsoon Magic

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The early morning cool breeze, a little mist still left over from the early hours, clean air all around, freshness of mother earth, flowers in bloom, lush greenery abound, the all too familiar smell of wet mud.......all these welcoming you to the ‘Monsoons’ (rather rainy season, if you may call it) that have come!

There’s nothing like sitting in your balcony and having a hot cuppa chai with some piping hot pakoras......while enjoying the blissful rain; a welcome break from the blistering heat of the bright sunny summer days......and all that’s for company is that quiet little sound of the raindrops falling on the roof.....of rain, out in its complete glory.......with a loved one by your side!

It is that time of the year when the grey misty cotton wool clouds lift the spirits. The romance and the spirit of freedom that accompany the monsoon showers are unrivalled. The cool zephyr, a trapped raindrop glinting in the nook of a leaf, the melting clouds - monsoon and its delights are sure to pull you out of your cocoon.

Come August and what would be a regular and timely affair around this time of the year, is somewhat turning out to be something else! The rains are not on time! It’s hard to predict the arrival of monsoons anymore!

But come rain or shine, you have to do what you have to do! So, here is our story on the rains and what to do and what not to do! As the heavens open up and showers descend down, it's important to keep in mind some tips to stay cool and stylish and at the same time stay safe and sound in the monsoon season.

What are Monsoons?
The term ‘Monsoon’ was first used in English in British India (now India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) and neighbouring countries to refer to the big seasonal winds blowing from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea in the southwest bringing heavy rainfall to the area.

The monsoons or wet season or rainy season, is the time of year, covering one or more months, when most of the average annual rainfall in a region falls. The term green season is also sometimes used by those in tourism.

Weakening of Indian Summer Monsoon
Indian summer monsoon rains have been decreasing steadily over the past three decades, a trend not seen in the nineteenth century, says a new study.

The findings confirm the weakening of India's summer monsoon. A team from Andhra University in Andhra Pradesh analysed records of rainfall across 30 meteorological subdivisions in India during the four monsoon months from June to September.
They compared monsoon rainfall trends in these four months over two time scales: from 1871-2005 and from 1970-2005, which marks the ‘global warming era’. Previously, no one had analysed the long-term changes in India's weather to ascertain whether or not recent monsoon phenomena can be attributed to global warming.

Unlike the late nineteenth century, when almost all of the subdivisions recorded active monsoon rains, during the global warming period 19 out of the 30 subdivisions showed decreased rainfall.

The research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year. According to the study this pattern of rainfall tendencies suggests a weakening of monsoon activity over India and this decline has persisted over three decades, unlike in the previous centuries when rainfall rose and fell between, and even within, decades.

Is It Our Doing?
The prevailing scientific opinion on climate change is that ‘most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities’.

An increase in global temperatures can in turn cause other changes, including a rising sea level and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation. These changes may increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and tornados. Other consequences include higher or lower agricultural yields, glacier retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors. Warming is expected to affect the number and magnitude of these events; however, it is difficult to connect particular events to global warming.

Only a small minority of climate scientists discount the role that humanity's actions have played in recent warming. However, the uncertainty is more significant regarding how much climate change should be expected in the future, and there is a hotly contested political and public debate over what, if anything, should be done to reduce or reverse future warming, and how to deal with the predicted consequences.

Monsoon Care
First showers of monsoon are heartily welcomed by everyone after experiencing the scorching heat of summer. But monsoons reduce the immunity of our body and make us susceptible to many diseases which are commonly associated with this season. It is time for us to keep our body resistant against diseases by boosting our immunity and taking precautions against these diseases. And though the fun to play in the rains is uncontrolled, the victims of such a joyful experience are the skin, hair and health. We have listed some do’s and don’ts for a healthy and happy season ahead for you.  

Protecting Yourself: 
It is essential that you take utmost care to protect yourself completely, since it is in rainy seasons that you and your body are more susceptible to harm and damage. Take these precautions for a healthier you!
• Avoid long, flowing skirts and trousers. Knee-length skirts and capris are the best option.
• The slush in the streets during the monsoon means that mud stains are unavoidable on trousers. Brush it with water and hard detergent before you put them in the washing machine.
• Avoid wearing denims in rainy season as it takes longer to dry.
• Make your clothes smell fresh by adding scented waters to an iron and on steam setting, gently waft over the clothing.
• Wear rubber or waterproof sandals and crocks instead of leather shoes.

Protecting Your Body (Nutrition):
During the rainy season, our digestion is weakened and the dosha (the Ayurvedic term for the three basic metabolic principles connecting the mind, body and biological functions) most likely to go out of balance is the vaata dosha.
Vaata aggravation leads to gas formation and indigestion, which most of us unknowingly experience. Following these do’s and don'ts will help us enjoy the rains without worrying about diseases.
• Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, particularly leafy vegetables and cauliflower, which not only contain larvae and worms, but also collect dirt from the streets.
• Eat in moderation as the body finds it harder to digest food during the monsoon.
• Drink warm beverages; add mint or ginger or dry ginger powder to tea.
• Moong dal is easy to digest and should be the dal of choice for the season.
• Garlic, pepper, ginger, asafoetida (hing), jeera powder, turmeric and coriander help enhance digestion and improve immunity.
• Non-vegetarians should go in for lighter meat preparations like soups and stews rather than heavy curries.
• Stick to freshly cooked food, but if you prefer to store cooked food in the fridge, heat it before eating.
• Drink only boiled and filtered water, and make sure that it is consumed within 24 hours of boiling.

Protecting Your Skin:
Monsoon is a season to rejuvenate all the living things on the planet. It is a refreshing season that makes you feel that beauty tips can be forgotten for some time. However as the intermittent showers pour high, you may notice some uneasiness with the skin. Here are some easy tips to maintain your youthful skin during this monsoon.
• Cleanse your skin daily using a soap free cleanser.
• Just because it is raining, don’t reduce consumption of water. Drink your usual 8-10 glasses of water.
• Use a toner each time you wash your face to close the pores.
Skin becomes dehydrated during the monsoon, moisturize it regularly.
• For dry skin, make a mixture of jojoba oil, fresh curd or yoghurt and honey in equal parts. Apply this as a face pack for about ten minutes and rinse it off with a mild face wash.
• For oily skin, make a cocktail of any oil and rose water i.e. two drops of oil with two teaspoons of rose water. Apply it on your face like a moisturizer. Then, rinse off with cold water after 10 minutes.
Cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. Use natural home remedies.
• For dry skin, crush a handful of almonds and mix it with honey to make a paste. Massage this on your face for about five minutes. Then, rinse it off with warm water.
• For oily skin, make a pulp out of pieces of papaya or use an oatmeal scrub. Apply this on your face and then wash it off with cold water.

Protecting Your Accessories:
Rain usually makes your wardrobe stink and wet weather can risk your favourite outwear and accessories. Here are some tips to rainproof your wardrobe and accessories in the wet season.
• Keep your leather hand bags and footwear wrapped in news paper and keep the wrapped bags in plastic bag.
• Dry the shoes before putting them in the cabinet. Best method is leave them to dry under the fan.
• Use wax shoe polish instead of the roll-ons during the monsoon as it repels the water and prevents shoe damage.
• Wear comfortable socks during monsoon. It acts as a barrier between the skin and the wet shoes. Direct contact of leather with the skin can cause bacterial growth.
• Go for metallic, stones or plastic fashion accessories. Avoid accessories with wooden beads as it takes longer to dry.
• Ensure the handbags that you use are waterproof. Large, functional bags are in fashion this season which can hold your paperwork, umbrellas, windcheaters and your daily makeup kit.

Protecting Your Vehicle & You:
No matter how well your vehicle is serviced, nothing substitutes you being alert and careful on the road. Here are some tips on how you can customize your driving skills for this monsoon:
• Wet-weather driving demands gentle use of all the main controls - steering, clutch, brake and accelerator - and a larger allowance for errors and emergencies.
• If your shoes or feet are wet, they are liable to slip off the pedals. Drive with dried shoes or feet.
• Check if headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are working properly.
• Carry emergency equipment like a flashlight, spanner or ropes; they will be handy during any eventuality.
• Slow down! It takes longer to stop or adjust in wet weather.
• Expressway driving - Leave lots of space between you and the vehicle in front because it takes longer to stop.
• Turn on your lights even in a light rain, or in gloomy, foggy or overcast conditions. They help you see the road and also help other drivers see you.
• Drive in the tracks of a vehicle ahead of you; you will know what lies ahead of you.
• Do not brake suddenly while driving in the rain, instead control the speed with the accelerator, pump the brake peddle and apply the brake slowly. 
• Avoid driving in the rain during darkness. Never drive beyond the limits of visibility.
• Don’t drive in heavy rain. Pull over and wait for the rain to ease up.
• Avoid off-road driving, it's hard to judge the actual depth of puddles.

Fun Things To Do For Kids
Watch A Movie: It's a perfect time to go cuddle up with your little ones in a blanket and watch your favourite movie and eat some pop-corn.
Game Time: Another thing you can do is play games. With so many kids games now I'm sure you'll have no problem finding a game that the kids love.
Have Fun in The Rain: As much as kids dislike getting a shower or taking a bath they love to go splashing around in the rain. So get some kids rain boots, and a poncho and go outside and have a blast.
Build a Fort: What better way to keep you kids entertained than to let them build a fort. Take a couple of sheets, some sofa cushions and a few chairs and let your imagination run wild.
Have a Ball: Kids like to get crazy, so let them. What a better way to wear them out until they are tired.
Dress Up: Almost any kid loves to play dress up. It takes the imagination to far off lands, beyond our time and space, and even to outer space.
Make a Rain Gauge: Gather the kids, and craft a rain gauge. Rain gauges collect rainwater, enabling to determine the amount of rain received each time it rains. Measuring rainfall with a rain gauge teaches mathematics and diverts children's thoughts away from the dullness of a long day.
Hang a Rain Chain: Take children outside for this rain craft. Centuries ago, rain chains originated in Japan. Used as a melodious and calming conduit to direct rainwater from the roof, rain chains brighten a rain-filled day.
Make Weather Mini-Books: Making mini-books about rainy days or the water cycle will occupy children's hands and improve their reading and writing skills. Allowing a child to author the mini-book creates a sense of accomplishment.
Make Weather Maps: Drawing weather maps on poster board helps children learn geography and how weather systems move across the country. The homemade weather maps add authenticity to the child meteorologist's forecast.

Monsoon Cravings
Right from the first drop of the rainy season one craves for some yummy, tangy, spicy and delicious snacks. Whether homemade or street food, both taste equally delicious. The rainy season is when certain foods make an appearance which everyone craves for on those glum days. These comfort foods give you that warm feeling inside and make any rainy day perfect. Vada Pav, Wada Sambar, Pav Bhaji, Samosa, Pakodas, Roasted Corn (Bhutta) or a piping Hot Masala Chai - all taste yummy in the rains. Try some of these different recipes.

Crispy Pea Cutlet:
Ingredients: Peas - 1 katori, cheese - 6 katoris, ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp, bread crumbs - 4 katoris, coriander powder - 1 tbsp, coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, salt to taste, green chillies - 4 to 5 chopped, oil - for frying.
Cook and mash peas. Grate cheese and mix with the mashed peas. Add bread crumbs, salt, coriander powder, coriander leaves, chopped green chillies, ginger and garlic paste to the mixture. Prepare thin maida paste. Make medium size balls and press them on the palm and dip in the maida paste (or egg white) and shallow fry till golden brown. Serve hot with tomato sauce or pudina chutney. 

Egg Vegetable Cutlets:
Ingredients:  Vanaspathi - 25 gms, maida - 25 gms, milk - ½ cup, hard boiled eggs - 3, ginger-chilli paste - 2 tbsp, salt - as required, red chilli powder - 1 tbsp, 1 egg - beaten separately, bread crumbs - 5 tbsp, onions - 2 cut finely, boiled mixed, diced, vegetables - 4 cups, oil - as required to fry cutlets.
Melt butter or vanaspathi in a pan, stir in maida and fry for few minutes. Gradually add warm milk, bring to boil and cook until thick. To this add fried onions, cooked and drained vegetables, chopped boiled eggs and seasoning. Mix well, form into cutlets, brush with beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs and deep fry until golden brown. Garnish wish coriander leaves and serve with sliced tomatoes and onions.

Baby Corn Fritters:
Ingredients: 500 gms baby corn - long sliced, 1 cup gram flour (besan), 1 cup all-purpose flour (maida), 1 tbsp red chilli powder, 1 pinch baking soda, salt as per taste, oil for frying.
Take a bowl and mix maida, besan, chilli powder, baking soda and salt in it. Now, slowly add water to it and mix well, so that no lumps are formed. Keep stirring it and make sure that a thick and smooth paste is formed. Heat oil in a kadai for deep frying. Now, dip baby corn pieces in the paste and fry them on low-medium flame. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

Bread Dhokla: 
Ingredients: 7-8 slices bread, 2 tbsp coconut (grated), 2-3 green chillies (chopped), ¼ tbsp ginger (grated), 1 cup yogurt, ½ tbsp red chilli powder, ½ tbsp amchoor powder, ½ tbsp mustard seeds, 1 twig curry leaves, 1 tbsp ghee, salt to taste.
Mix yogurt, chopped green chillies, amchoor powder, ginger and salt in a bowl. Remove the edges of the bread slices and cut each slice into 4 squares. Spread the above-made mixture onto each square and join two squares to form a tiny sandwich. Heat ghee in a frying pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves to it. When the seeds splutter, place the sandwiches in the pan and fry on both sides. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut. Serve hot with chutney. 

Give In
Don’t force yourself and your kids to stay put indoors. Every season should be enjoyed to the fullest; even a drizzle or a heavy rain. Make the most of it while it lasts. Head to a park or a safe open place. Enjoy the muddy splash in the rains with your little one! It might actually wash off your worries when you look at that bright glint in the eyes of your kids. Don’t let the rain spoil your kids’ and your mood. Take them out to a small and quick game in the rain.

Like the saying by Gilbert K. Chesterton goes, “And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” Enjoy the rain while it lasts! Or better still like how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would put it, “The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” You can’t do anything better, so don’t even bother trying! So, just “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby,” as Langston Hughes had said. What sums up the awesome rains for me is this beautiful saying “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Whichever one suits you, enjoy the wonderful monsoons!   

Month: August 2010.

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