I grew up where summers were sticky and the thirty degree heat didn’t subside even by midnight. If I turned on a tap for a glass of water, the liquid was lukewarm. Arriving in sweltering Rameswarm, you’d assume a seasoned tropical dweller like me didn’t feel the heat, but that wasn’t the case. I felt dirty all day from oozing perspiration. My clothes hung like rags. My hair was damp and limp from the humidity.
How then, did the local Tamils appear as if the heat didn’t bother them? I learned their secret — oil baths. I had to try one because I looked like a wet potato sack. I rubbed gingerly oil into my body, took a shower using soap nuts powder to wash away the excess oil (an hour long process), and couldn’t believe the aftermath. I felt refreshed and clean until the next day when I was back to square one — looking and feeling like a wet potato sack again.