Seasons in India
I don’t know if you have noticed this but our schools still teach children that there are 4 seasons and Autumn is when the leaves fall. This probably happens in our hill stations – but for many many parts of India, fall season is spring season. Does any Indian reader remember walking across heaps of dry leaves in early April?
Physically we hate the sun. Aspiration-ally we reach out for it!
So, here is my pet peeve. The sun is something we Indians hide from. Women stay inside, and if they have to go out in the hot summer sun they cover themselves from head to toe. The reasons are twofold. The temperatures are so high the rays literally burn the skin. Our ever active melanin quickly springs into action and tans any exposed skin until the UV rays become less damaging. But no one cares about Vitamin D or protective benefits of a tanned ‘twacha’. Our bazaars are full of dupattas and chunnis that are bought to match each of the outfits in every woman’s cupboard.
Walk into any busy street in any small town during summer season. especially between 2 and 4 pm and start counting. How many of those passerby women have covered their entire faces and arms with these dupattas and chunnis to stop the natural process of getting a tan. Those ditzy young girls heading back home after college on their Bajaj scooties even have long white gloves (otherwise associated with fashionable soirees in rich British homes) covering their entire arms. Heaven forbid that the ubiquitous ‘kaali’ gets associated with their light brown skin.
Then there is a very successful programme on radio that urges listeners to ‘Get some sun’. Arrey Bhaiya! We are waiting for the monsoon to bring some relief.
What the Ads sell and show
Now turn your attention to the ads and the websites that sell fashion and a whole host of summer related products to these very same women.
Here’s one that is selling nautical inspired blue stripes for a leisurely beachside stroll. Hello. India’s beaches are deserted in summer. It’s hot and very very humid. The sand will be scorching and the beach shacks and merry makers have flown to Manali.
Indian families shut themselves into AC rooms or drive to the hills hoping for some coolth to remind them of a mild winter in the plains. Those who can afford it have escaped to Europe and Canada or some other cold country. And yet our fashion websites and advertising glorify the summer season as a holiday on a beach.
I never said that advertising should reflect reality. But imagine if instead of selling bikinis, advertisers and sellers got their thinking out of their colonised mindsets and started selling products that people escaping to the hills actually need. Walking gear, sun protection caps…or capes, indoor action for restless kids, poolside toys, we can keep adding to that list.
I asked a school Principal, “what will happen if our text books and youtube learning videos tell our children about the real Indian weather.” (I didn’t add this other thought of; not some glamourized version of England’s weather) and she said the concept of weather has to be …some sort of standardised information. Leaving me with more questions than answers. At the end of the day we are teaching our children that when you walk to school on a moderately warm summer day. With dead leaves crunching under your feet, remember this is spring and leaves don’t fall in this weather.
These very same kids then grow up and create advertising that would appeal to audiences who sit in AC rooms and buy clothes that glamourise a summer beach. Because if the beaches in England have perfect weather at this time of year, we need to dressed for it in India