• Temperature, humidity, and health.
  • Eat a bit of fruit and make faces in the mirror.
  • All part of the Bengaluru Weather Change-itis.

Cough, cough

Though Bengaluru is not as badly off as Delhi for air quality, we have our set of woes, too.

At this time of year, you will notice that many Bengalureans have a slightly dry, hacking sort of cough. The throat is itchy-scratchy and dry. The coughs are often not “productive”, as our medical doctors may say. A “productive” cough is one that expels phlegm. Eeeewwww!, you say? Well, the body has to cope.

Even non-productive coughs are painful to the person having it. Many of us don’t cover our mouth with a handkerchief when we sneeze or cough, thus making it easy to spread disease-causing germs.

This expectoration is the dry hacking cough I talked about earlier.

Itch, itch

Then many of us experience dry itchy skin. We see a whitish coating of flakes on our skin. We can draw lines on the skin with our finger nail! This dryness and itchiness also occurs on the scalp (the skin on the head)… leading to much scratching of heads … as if we are sitting for an exam and can’t figure out the answer to question number 7 in the geography paper!

In fact, the whole surface of our body is vulnerable to this kind of itchiness and flakiness of skin.


Fog is caused by water vapor condensing into tiny droplets near the surface of Earth because the air is not warm enough to keep the vapor in vapor form. Warmer air can hold more moisture … it can be more humid. Cooler air, less so.

The fog occurs from evening to shortly after dawn. As the sun’s heat warms up the land/water surfaces, the air touching them warms up, and the droplets of water (fog) warm up and get taken into the air.

During our ‘winter’, in Bengaluru, we experience cool temperatures (although some complain about the temperature as if we were living in Siberia!). When we have less rainfall, the air tends to become dry. Cool air, in any case, cannot hold much moisture. We say the humidity is low.

The natural phenomenon of fog combines with the dust we raise and the smoke our vehicles spew to create smog. This affects our breathing … the lungs get deposits of dust and other particles that the want to eject. This process is called expectoration – “to eject or expel matter, as phlegm, from the throat or lungs by coughing or hawking and spitting; spit.” Its origin lies in Latin: “expectorāre to expel from the breast” (dictionary.com)

Free advice

Enter the General Wisdom on how to tackle these problems:

  • Wear a sweater, monkey cap, three banians, gloves, seven pairs of socks, shoes, hug yourself, stomp your feet and complain bitterly to anyone within earshot, “Oh-ho-ho-hoooo! It is sooooooo cold!! It’s verrryyy baaaaad, no?” Of course, I exaggerate just a little But you get the idea.
  • Better advice is to wear clothing that keeps you comfortably warm. Wear layers of outer clothing that you can easily peel off if you start feeling too warm. Towards evening, if you start feeling chilly again, you can put those layers back on. Don’t wear thermal underwear! You could bake!!
  • Drink a lot of water. Now, this is good advice. Because the air is so dry, you lose a lot of moisture (hence the dryness of the skin and throat), so keeping yourself adequately hydrated is a good idea. Keep taking small quantities of water throughout the day; not seven gallons at a time! Warm water is better if you are feeling chilly.
  • Eat a lot of fresh vegetables. They contain much moisture and can help keep you better hydrated. Among these, look around you and see what is especially seasonal at this time. (Hint: a lot of vendors will be selling them, and the price will be quite low … these mean that the item is seasonal). In this season, pay particular attention to:
    • Gooseberry (nelli kaayi in Kannada; Ribus uva-crispa is the scientific name). There are many varieties of these. The one you will see most commonly sold is called bettada nelli kaayi. They are sour beyond belief! Eat one raw, perhaps with a pinch of salt and chili powder. If you can eat their pickles, that is also good. These are excellent sources of vitamin C and this is good in fighting several winter ailments.

Gooseberries are excellent sources of vitamin C. (Source: https://goo.gl/siQacJ Accessed 4 Dec. 2018)

Nutritional information on gooseberries. (Source: https://goo.gl/LIvOR1 Accessed on 4 Dec. 2018)

  • Oranges (kittaley hannu in Kannada; Citrus species). I just had a quick word with my esteemed colleague, Guruji Wikipedia Maharaj. He was very happy to entertain my questions, especially since I gave him half a kilo of gooseberries, and this is part of what he shared with me:   ‘The word orange derives from the Sanskrit word for “orange tree” (naaranga), which in turn derives from a Dravidian root word (from narandam which refers to bitter orange in Tamil). The Sanskrit word reached European languages through Persian (naarang) and its Arabic derivative naaranj.’ Pretty interesting geography and history, no? Anyway, these are quite cheaply available now. They are also good sources of vitamin C.

Orange blossom and fruit. Oranges are a good source of vitamin C. (Source: https://goo.gl/GXHyrv Accessed on 4 Dec. 2018)

Nutritional information on oranges. (Source: https://goo.gl/Ld3aJw Accessed on 4 Dec. 2018)

  • Apply skin moisturizing lotion. There are many available in the market. Choose a good one and use it. This helps retain moisture in the skin. Likewise, for the lips, use lip balm.

As always, our geography is a major contributing factor to our suffering from BWCV (Bengaluru Weather-Change Virus).



  1. Which are the major gooseberry cultivating areas in India?
  2. In front of a mirror, eat a raw gooseberry and look at your face! It will be most entertaining.
  3. Eat a piece of gooseberry and take a sip of water immediately after. What taste do you get in your mouth?
  4. Where are oranges grown in India?
  5. Where are oranges imported from into India?

A version of this article appeared in the Deccan Herald Student Edition, 28 November 2018.

Featured image: This is what happens when you eat a lemon (another source of vitamin C). Courtesy, https://goo.gl/g2s7Fk (Accessed on 4 Dec. 2018)


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