In Praise of afternoon sleep (siesta)

For a tropical climate like ours, here in Calcutta (India), from March to October, afternoon sleep appears to have therapeutic effect and productivity amplifier.

This tradition is now completely forgotten although our last colonial rulers with their capital in my adopted city honoured this tradition. The first wave of British people in Calcutta left vivid documentation of their engagement with the tropical heat. Without AC, fan, cooler, they had only two options at their disposal – architectural design and manual labour. The former can be seen the very high ceiling, airy rooms, many windows with system to allow air and block sunlight in the beautiful public buildings they built.. Then there was pankha-pullers – people who pulled a manual fan.

Our technology provided us many benefits and one of them being the liberty of building ugly, shed or box-like buildings  and one may ask whether these are designed for human beings or as a  warehouse. Most of the modern architecture of most of the contemporary cities of the world are proof that we have soaked our very soul to the premise that says – “Beauty and Utility shall never meet.”

This is an utter lie and only minds castrated of beauty and its appreciation will voice such non-sense.

Now coming back to the afternoon siesta.  In Bengal, afternoon siesta in the afternoon (March to October) must have the following design with minor variations :

  • Lunch between 1 pm – 2 pm
  • Ultra light in terms of volume and spice  with rice, lime and ending with curd and a dry sweet.  No meat, no alcohol. Fish allowed.
  • Cotton dress – preferably white.
  • A half-read book (preferably a classic work, e.g  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), a bed-sheet smelling freshness – preferably white and recently washed. No AC, No TV mobile switched-off, curtains drawn but an opening so that one can have a glimpse of the sky, email vacation notice telling ” In a radio silence zone for next 2 hours, starting 1 pm
  • Eau-de-cologne sprinkled in the pillows.

Material aspects being over, now comes the mental training part.

  • One must not think after lying down – “oh, so hot… I cannot sleep. Will I wake up by 4 pm ?
  • One must read the book as if there is no worry in the world.
  • Then one must pray for sleep so that the Mistress of sleep may sit on your eye-lashes ( The Bengali rhyme : “….চোখ পেতে বসো”)
  • With practice, one will wake up by 4 pm – a rest of maximum 2 hours and minimum 1.5 hours.
  • Wash you face, brush your teeth and drink coffee / tea.

Now, following things have happened in this period ;

  • Your body has spent little energy and most of the energy was used in running core processes. One of them being the brain processes. With less loss of salt through perspiration, you shall feel fresh.
  • Since you did not sleep for being tired but “invited”, the quality will be better and you shall have vivid dreams.
  • With time, your body clock can be timed to 30 mins, 45 mins, 1 hour and so on.

The Most Important Question :

Who can have this schedule in our present times ?

In olden times, kings and emperors, High Officials of the Colonial Government, Lazy Rich and so on.

In our times, only someone who is an Emperor of his/her own time can even thinking of such a schedule. But such people are not completely extinct.

True Freelancers – this species who work from home or from a home-like office environment can design their day (working days of the week included) this way.

This perk is forever denied to:

a) Corner Office residents b) All office residents c) Ambitious d) Celebrities e) High Rajas people f) Social Media Addicts g) Mobile Phone addicts h) Work/Game addicts i) People who are scared of being with oneself j) Insomniacs k) School goers l) College and other educational institution goers m) Officials of all variety  n)  Who eat a lot (indigestion) o) Who eat indiscriminately (migraine) p) Who travel a lot – business or pleasure q) Busy bodies of all type.

“Blessed are the Free / For they can command their sleep.”

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