Dealing with the monsoon’s side effects at home

12:24 PM

The monsoon in Bangalore is pretty harmless, it rains heavily a few hours and then it is dry and cool, the humidity doesn’t build up that much, if you suddenly find yourself during a spell you retreat to the nearest cafe and never have to wait too long for the downpour to become manageable again and head back home relatively dry, even if you forgot your umbrella. It is very rare to have to deal with dampness and mildew inside your home as well. For the people living in the garden city the monsoon is truly a welcome sight, it brings back the cool climate the city enjoys year round without causing too much havoc.
Mumbai has a much different scenario playing however, and this year is going to be my third Mumbai monsoon. Granted last year we moved back in the area in August and had about 1.5 months of ordeal we didn’t have to deal with, we still have until September end to “appreciate” it.
The downpour in Mumbai can be a constant for days at a time, in the early onset of the monsoon like we have now there are still enough sunny spells to just make the humidity in the ground seep right out steaming people and bringing in an insane level of humidity inside the homes, which leads to some serious problems, if left alone…and the task of tackling the mildew and fungus woe is never ending. We fortunately found out that the flat we are living in right now has a much better ventilation than those in the NRI complex in Navi Mumbai so we have it a bit easier.
So here are a few tips on taking care of yourself and your home during the monsoon if you live in an area that sees a lot of rain mixed with a hot climate.

For your home:

- Before the monsoon truly sets in go on a cleaning spree, the less dust and gunk accumulated in corner, the less hot spot for fungus you’ll have, think of all the places you normally overlook or don’t dust often enough and give them some TLC
- De-clutter! Make war to clutter in every room, clutter invites dust, and mold, humidity gets trapped in it and this leads to unhealthy living condition. Ban things like wooden decor items, pot pourri and excess decorative cushion from your place, store them in a wardrobe until the downpour is over.
- Speaking of wardrobes and cupboard, they become mold breading ground during the monsoon and fortunately a new product launched in India last year 9or at least I saw it for the first time then): ABSORBIA
Absorbia comes in different sizes, and is basically something I knew from the west under dehumidifying granule containers, you have the ones for bigger space with a hard plastic shell, and those for wardrobes that look like this:


This one can hold up to one litre of moisture, and as you can see there is already some in the plastic pouch, I bought and installed these on the 24th in the evening, and this picture has been taken today…so in not even 2 days yet that’s how much moisture was in the hanger compartment of my wardrobe! I have a bigger hard plastic shell absorbia in the shelf section, that also started collecting water already. They might be a pit pricey, but will save your clothes from mildew infestation and bad odours, so I strongly recommend these in all the wardrobes and humidity hot spots in the house.

- In the kitchen, make sure ALL food items are kept in airtight canisters and remember to close them all after use, leaving cookies out for just one hour will make them soggy, lentils and flours stored improperly will become unfit for consumption. Transfer your continental cuisine herb mix and some spices not used often to the freezer compartment of your fridge.

- Cane furniture and decorative items do catch green fungus fast, in Navi Mumbai I was tackling it every other day on my bedside table lamps, so you need to wash and dust them daily, and at the first occasion of a sunny spell put them in the sun on your balcony for them to dry.
Wooden furniture aren’t spared either, so keep dusting them daily and pull them off the wall at least once a week to wipe the back as well.

- Take down your paintings and wall decor off the wall once or twice a week to wipe the back clean and prevent mold build up on the back of the frame and on the wall.

- If you can save laundry for sunny days as much as you can, drying a batch of laundry during the monsoon can take twice as long, so anytime the sun is making a special appearance, use it to your advantage to get things done and dry your clothes properly.

- Air your home as much as you can, proper ventilation is the key to prevent mold from building up. I had all kind of tips on that, people telling me to keep all windows shut at all time, people to tell me to shut them during a rain spell…the fact is after trying it all I found out that keeping EVERYTHING open to allow as much air circulation inside is what works best and will minimise the damage. I tried the closing everything in Navi Mumbai only to see the mighty green fungus come twice as fast on every surface inside the house…including my cooking spatulas…ewww!

Tips for yourself:

- Dress the part. Most women even those wearing traditional wear will expose their leg a little during that time, by wrapping a saree to a just below the knee length or rolling up their salwaar to a carpi length, the water level can rise quickly during a storm…very quickly, so when outside you want your clothes to keep as dry as possible. upper middle class women go for stretch capris, shorts, and easy to maintain fabrics during that time. Stretch cotton tops, and poly blend kurti also dry much faster. Dark colours are to be favoured as the muddy water splatter will not be as noticeable even if washing your outfit wont get rid of it all.

- Forget fancy shoes, simply put they will be ruined, get some plastic flip flops, crocs, or plastic slippers, every stores sell them at that time of the year, and you can find some really attractive designs if you are still fashion conscious. If you go to an office where you need to wear formal shoes, slip them in a bag while commuting, and change shoes at your destination. DH lost a pair of leather shoes to decay in one downpour…this is how bad it is!

- The monsoon is the time of the year during which the stomach bugs are out full blast. If you have a sensitive digestive system, avoid things like salads in restaurants, wash your fruits and veggies at home with purified water, and eat more boiled and hot meals. health expert will even agree that this is the time of the year where indulging a little in fried food is ok, and soups are always a definite winner. Avoid fruits that are heavily water based such as melon and watermelon during that time if you are prone to gastric problem. It is also a very good time to get your water purifier filter changed and the unit serviced.

- Keep your hair manageable, or by cutting them short, or tying them up neatly, this will prevent you from looking like a wet mop when outside. Wash them as soon as you get home after being caught in a downpour as rain water is pretty dirty around here, the last thing you need is a scalp issue to deal with.

- Of course the best is to invest in an umbrella. While they weren’t as popular in Bangalore for understandable reason, comes the monsoon in Mumbai and every single shop will be selling them in a lot of designs, quality and materials. If you don’t go out often a small foldable one you can keep in your purse will do, but they won’t keep you dry long enough. If you tend to be out a lot, it’s better to get a bigger one. DH invested in a wide one this season, it’s one of those that look more like a cane when closed so you can’t stuff it in your bag, but they do a much better job at keeping you dry from head to wherever the water level on the road reaches your leg. You can even keep your sweeter half dry as well…WIN

- There are times an umbrella won’t do, so worry not rain coats are as easily and widely available all over Mumbai, keeping those commuting by two wheelers relatively dry.

- Still in the waterproofing vein, keep your mobile phone in a Ziploc bag if you carry it in your pocket…DH lost a phone to the monsoon in 2010 because he was not prepared, he did the mistake once. If you are a lady, try to get a purse that doesn’t take water, and keep your mobile inside the main pocket where it will remain dry.

- Go for pedicures often…silly maybe, but feet exposed to moisture constantly makes for softer skin, and the door open for bacterial infection, so get your feet scrubbed of excess skin and calluses often. Keep the nails clean and wash your feet daily at night before stepping into bed. 

- Last but no least…take time to ENJOY the weather, it’s that time of the year to just take the opportunity to do nothing at all on a rainy Sunday apart from curling up in bed with a good book,  cup of tea and listen to the rain, or munch on comfort food while watching the downpour and rejoicing at the slightly cooler temperatures it brings.

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