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Stun the sun for summer fun

Here comes the sun' and how! Since it's here to blaze for a while, Metro on Sunday sets out to try and beat the heat. There's no escaping it, we know, but at least let's try and survive the summer of 2005 with a smile. Here goes how'

Screen Saver

The first thing to do before stepping out in the sun is to get the gear right.

Start with the correct skin treatment of a sunscreen cloak if you don't fancy a crisp tan. In the maze of lotions and blocks available, beautician June Tomkyns zeroes in on the Lotus range. She advises using the one with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 40+. 'These are non-greasy and also have skin lightening elements,' says June.

Thus armoured, you can dare to bare, for there is little else you can do to brave the heat and the grime. The dress code of the season reads capris and spaghettis. Men needn't sweat it out in unrelenting formals all the time. Short kurtas and casual cotton shirts could be their lifeline this summer.

Spare a thought for some protective headgear too: caps, hats and, yes, the umbrella. Don't forget to top off with cool sunshades for the eyes, the glamour element in the summer ensemble. And it's not just RayBan anymore, with cool perfume brands Police, Guess, Hugo Boss and Caterpillar eyeing sunshades, too.

Cool Tool

What better way to beat the heat than to buy some really cool stuff' And this summer, Calcuttans more than ever are going for frost-free refrigerators and split air-conditioners.

'There is only a marginal price difference between the frost-free and direct-cool varieties now. Besides, frost-free offers more space as there is no ice formation,' says Jiten Chawla of Cams Corner, which stocks LG products. 'And white is pass',' adds Samsung India's Apurba Nandy. 'Steel and new shades of blue and green are the happening colours.'

On the air-conditioner front, split ACs is what the city is united over. 'Besides the price reduction, earlier installing a split AC was a problem. But thanks to the housing boom, there's planned construction and installation is easy,' points out Nandy.

'In case of window ACs, people are pushing for add-ons like air purification, power saving and less noise,' adds Chawla.

At another end of the cool-off curve, the humble home furnishing shops on Free School Street are also getting their share of summer sales with the age-old khus khus. The natural cooling system is best when used in areas of the house with a proper drainage system to drain out the water dripping from the khus khus.

Blinds at furnishing stores like Times and Skipper help in additional cooling when used with curtains but it's not as effective as the thick brown sheets of khus khus.

'Printed blinds with beadwork are hot this season,' says interior designer Manjari Sahay.

Heat Retreat

As the mercury rises, Calcuttans are making a beeline for the beaches. Southeast Asia scores high, simply for the price factor, with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia the most popular places for Calcutta holidaymakers this summer.

Sticking to the east, Australia and New Zealand are hotspots too. It's not cheap, but there are plenty of package and group tours on offer. In fact, package tours are the way to go, anywhere in the world.

Europe or the US, African Safari or Alaskan cruise, there are no limits. Kashmir is cool once again, the Bahamas is big, the Mediterranean is making a splash' Cruises are catching on, while thrill seekers are turning to treks in the Himalayas, Rocky Mountains and Swiss Alps, or going hot-air ballooning in Australia or snorkelling in the Caribbean.

And prices are free falling. Case in plummet point: Rs 12,000 to fly to and stay in Bangkok for four days and three nights.

Two tips: set a budget and then find out the options from a travel agency; book well in advance to keep your options open and the prices to the minimum.

Kid Caper

They are the restless ones. And cartoons on TV are just not enough to keep them happy at home. The solution: summer camps, either traditional or trendy.

Padatik Dance and Theatre Centre has a plethora of activities lined up, starting May 20. There's math made easy, kathak by Birju Maharaj, children's theatre and Western dance workshops.

If dance is where your child's feet are, Shiamak Davar's Institute for Performing Arts is all set to kick off its summer session in Calcutta.

Birla Academy of Art and Culture has, like every year, varied workshops to bring out the creativity in kids from May 17 ' glass painting, terracotta, pata chitra, paper cutting, mask making, theatre'

Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in Salt Lake has a whole lot of creative workshops from folk art to Indian classical dance, while Birla Industrial and Technological Museum has several summer camps opening up the world of science to students.

Youngsters can also sign up for classes at the Calcutta School of Music to tune into their musical talents.

Then there is the animation workshop for kids wanting to take cartoon viewing to a more creative level. Colorchips and Academy of Animation Arts & Technology are just two of the animation institutes in the city who promise a glimpse into the magical world of storyboards and voiceovers for kids this summer.

Pool Party

Tempted to dive into the nearest waterbody' Do so, but in style. Once the afternoon sun drains you of all vitality, rejuvenating by the poolside in the evening is just what the good doctor would order.

'The best thing about a pool party is that allows for maximum fun with minimum hassle,' says event manager Sanjay Agarwal.

Sparkling blue waters, the right attire, free flow of food and beverage, and some safety measures will see you ready to rock by the poolside.

For the dress code, slip into a snazzy T-shirt and a pair of shorts if you do not have any intention of testing the waters. A swimming trunk for guys and a bright coloured bikini for girls would just be right. Floaters will take care of the feet on slippery grounds.

Throw around some deck chairs and tables by the pool. Children are best kept away, but if some of them manage to sneak in, keep some pool tubes handy.

'Play popular tracks like Superstar and Turn me on,' suggests DJ Girish of Shisha.

If beer and Breezer is the byword for booze, a barbecue on the sidelines is the food for the mood.

Movie Mania

It's time to raise tinsel-town temperatures in the summer of 2005 with both Bollywood and Tollywood lining up interesting releases at a theatre near you.

Vipul Shah's Waqt with Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra promises to make you laugh and cry, starting next Friday, while the Karan Johar-Shah Rukh Khan co-production Kaal transports you to the jungles, but not before an SRK-Malaika item dhamaal.

It's Bachchan bonanza next with Amitabh and Abhishek coming together for the first time with 'favourite' Rani Mukherjee in Shaad Ali's road caper Bunty Aur Babli. Then, step into the time machine to gorge on a grand Calcutta of the 60s in director Pradeep Sarkar's adaptation of the Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay classic Parineeta.

While Sunny Deol goes funny in friend Rahul Rawail's action-comedy Jo Bole So Nihaal, Akbar Khan tries to do a Mughal-e-Azam with Taj Mahal, which also marks the return of Naushad after 14 years. Amidst all the mayhem, Ram Gopal Varma's Factory storms the summer with D, James, My Wife's Murder and, of course, Sarkar.

For local flavour, celebrate the return of Rituparno Ghosh with the Jackie-Abhishek-Soha starrer Antarmahal, and see Anjan Dutt paint a picture of the Anglo-Indian community in Bow Barracks Forever. Then there's Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Swapner Din.

But the crowning glory must be Shyam Benegal's Bose The Forgotten Hero, set to music by A.R. Rahman.

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