Topiary. When you say that word in Tamil, you might be saying 'Throw your cap away.' Topi - erry! In that sense of the word, there's been a lot of 'topiary' in the twentieth century. I wonder why? With temperatures touching new highs every season, we need to keep our heads covered and cool.
If you wear a cap or a hat, you get funny looks. As a woman who wears a topi in the sun at all times, I've faced amusement, ridicule, cockiness and wisecracks, and I'm not exactly thick-skinned. In fact, it’s because of sensitive skin that I always wear protective head-gear. My brother in Delhi completely stopped wearing topis after a motorcyclist flicked one off his head when he was taking an evening walk.
A good alternative would be an umbrella, but the things you get these days are all made of synthetic material which compounds the heat. Instead of getting a little circle of cool shade, like what the black cloth umbrellas of old provided, you find yourself perspiring in a claustrophobic heat capsule.
Now that the monsoon is here, we know it's going to rain at any time, and without any warning. No one in a tea garden is going to leave home without an umbrella. Rainy, sunny or cloudy skies, that umbrella is indispensable.