After the hugs and the cries of welcome, the first words my mom uttered upon seeing me and S were, "Why are you both so tanned?" Don't get me wrong. I have always belonged to the "curly hair, not so fair" species. I never been bothered about it either - perhaps I have been bothered about the curly hair part of it, as mentioned here. I used to get pretty pained when I saw the ads for fairness creams for women - who on earth mandated that being "fair" was the beauty ideal which Indian women should strive to attain? However, nowadays, I guffaw heartily when I see ads for fairness creams for *men*. Hahahah!
Anyway, I digress. Coming back to my story, I ruefully looked at mom and said, "I know. We got the first tan-coat at San Diego. Just when it was wearing off, we got a second, more-durable coat at New York city. This was followed by a third coat finish at Washington DC. By the time we reached Hong Kong, we were prepped and set for the final sealing coat."
July 2010 had been a month involving a lot of travel and sightseeing for us. While it was a lot of fun, it was also a lot of heat. I tell you, being in the Bay Area has spoiled me so much weather-wise. I imagined a similarly comfortable and pleasant summer in NYC and DC and was shocked to find that both the cities were giant ovens set at broil heat. Needless to say, we both were roasted and well-done by the time the trip was over. On the bright side, it prepped us well for the two days of Hong Kong sightseeing and for the current Chennai heat.
Now, some people, when they get tanned, get tanned evenly. So their entire skin takes on a nice, even, darker-hue. Not me, no siree. Instead, my skin gets tanned in splotches. So at the end of it all, I tend to look more like a human-cheetah or maybe a human-zebra than like a tanned-human. Sigh! Is it any wonder then that I tend to slather on copious quantities of sunscreen, at least on my face, before I go out into the sun?
Clearly, the sunscreen hadn't worked as well as I had hoped it would. So now, Mom has taken on "Operation De-tan Archu" with great alacrity. Every morning, she enthusiastically gives me a concoction of turmeric and cream (skimmed fresh off that morning's milk) - "to be applied right before showering". Then a cube of crushed papaya "to be applied to the face".
I strongly suspect that the only effect these rituals are having on me is to make me smell like day-old milk and old fruit-salad. Still, who can say no to such pampering?