Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Ginger is not just ginger. It can be adrakwali chai.
“Thoda chai patti aur shakkar de sakte ho?”, a man asked my friend when she at the grocer.
A stranded laborer, he was getting food from the government. But it was chai he craved for.
She gave him all the money in her purse, wishing she had more.
Back in the space which his family inhabits, he will brew chai for his wife and child. As they sip the sugary concoction together, at least for a few moments, the city would feel like home.
Chai is not just chai. It never was. Chai is belonging.
I drop the Red Label chaipatti in. And wait.
In camps where stranded laborers are housed, they wait for 4 pm. Chaitime.
Today there is no chai. The camps have run out of money. They barely have enough for food.
Reduce the food, they say, but give us our chai.
Chai is not an essential, but it is necessary to stay alive.
The steaming beverage on a hot summer day. The sugar rush it provides.
Chai is belonging.
It is the feeling of being wanted.
Of letting you forget you situation.
Of making you feel that you are in control.
I pour the chai into my favourite mug, and inhale deeply. The pungency of the ginger hits me like a tsunami. Carries me away to the ocean where only chai drinkers go.
Chai means different things to different people.
Couple of weeks back, a friend and I were joking about getting handloom face masks to match our blouses. I was dreaming of face masks in ikat and indigo mul, when the pop-up ads started appearing.
Two and three layer masks in handloom or handprinted cotton. Some reversible, all beautiful.
They were so beautiful, and with the linkages to providing livelihood in the handloom sector, and for women tailors, they appealed on more than just aesthatics.
But do these masks really work? When I set out to find out, I realised that most of those mask do not serve the purpose for which they are designed.
The purpose of the masks is to act as a physical barrier to prevent the spread of the virus through respiratory droplets suspended in the atmosphere. Which means, the fabrics and/ or combination of fabrics should be tested for the ability to filter out particles.
The efficiency of filtration of these aerosols was tested on various fabrics and combination of fabrics, especially cotton. Since the size of the droplet is not known, the fabrics were tested for aerosols from 10 nm to ∼10 μm sizes.
Details of the study are given in the article, but to sum up, a double layer was more effective than a single layer, and a combination of fabrics worked better than multiple layers of the same fabric.
Two layers of cotton provides protection of above 70%, but only if thread count is 600 TPI.
Coming to handlooms. Handloom is not densely woven, and has thread count of 80-200. Two layers of 80 TPI provides protection as low as 40%.
Though handlooms look nice, they aren't effective as face masks.
The most effective masks would be a combination of cotton-silk or cotton-chiffon, but both fabrics should have tight weaves.
In the absence of a certifying authority, we should be careful before buying and using a handloom mask- if it doesn't protect, is it worth wearing?
We should certainly support handloom and handmade, but we should also insist on the face masks performing the purpose for which they are designed.
Incidentally, four layers of silk (a scarf wound around) provides upto 85% protection.
Details here- https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252#
Photograph taken from the web.