I have a simple radical solution for staying cool in Sri Lanka’s “hot season”. You don’t have to flee to your summer palace. Or seek the false refuge of air conditioning. All it takes is a simple change of perspective. Conditioning if you want a one word answer. Up for it?
The solution has two simple steps that MUST occur together. You can’t do one without the other. They are:
- Minimise your exposure to air conditioning
- Drink water often
The point of all this is to condition the mind and thus the body to accept humidity.
Air conditioning disrupts the adaptation process with sensory delusion. The better option is the reverse. Spend a few minutes every 2–3 hours in a room that is a degree or two WARMER than the outside. Such as the kitchen (sauna/boiling room) at my parents’ place. When you come out the outside will seem cooler.
Drinking a lots of UNCOOLED water is a matter of life of death in this process. That’s WATER. NOT carbonated sugar poisons. “Sports” hydration fluids are good if they are the right kind and you can afford them. If you must drink it cool don’t make it freezing cold. It’s too much of a shock to the body. The best option is storing the water in a Gurulethuwa (clay urn used for storing water). The thing keeps water at a refreshing temperature that allows more drinking.
All this boils down to getting comfortable with sweating. It’s your body’s cooling system. Yet tradition AND products of the “deodorised” west want you to hate sweating. Or exile it to the gym. The combined pressure of the old and new cultural symbolism of sweat in Sri Lanka is intense. The mental leap need to defy such social-cultural tyranny is too much for many.
The global warming behind the recent heat doesn’t help.
I have to admit there were days when even my slavish appreciation of humidity was tested. Yet my convictions survived the test and came out stronger.
I doubt the seething masses share my convictions. They will go on whining about the heat. They will remain ignorant of how privileged they are to enjoy such warmth and humidity. They will worship the false idol of air conditioning with greater fervour. The lure to join Sri Lanka’s coolest people will be strong.
No matter. Dim as I am, I denounce air conditioning. I choose a different cool. After reading this, will you?