Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Umbrella - a complex lifestyle accessory

Most umbrellas are black in colour, especially in India. Not quite sure where else. Japanese umbrellas are mostly white and colourful.

Ever wondered why they are black in India? I haven't heard anything very conclusive. But here are a couple of reasons.
  • A legacy of the British Raj. When they ruled India, for them black was the most official colour. So their umbrellas too were black. And we are just carrying on with it, like many other legacies of the British.
  • Umbrellas were mostly used to protect oneself from rain. A wet black cloth dries faster than that of any other colour, since it absorbs heat and therefore water evaporates faster. 
  • Dirt on a black surface is less conspicuous compared to on any other colour.
But if one were to use an umbrella in sunshine, black ones would absorb a lot of heat, and it would become hot. So, some new varieties have a silver coating inside to prevent radiation towards the user. 

Modern features

Some new models come with a feature called 'wind vent', meaning the umbrellas won't fold backwards while holding it in strong wind.

I have also heard of umbrellas that protect the user from ultraviolet rays. But I am not sure how credible those claims are.

Of cows and cats

In Kerala, I have seen cows getting provoked and jumping about in an aggressive manner, on seeing umbrellas. In those days, while passing through the nearby village, we used to often encounter farmers walking with their cows back home. There have been a few occasions, when those farmers, on seeing my umbrella, have called out aloud from a distance asking me to close it, and hide it, so that the cows won't be provoked.

At home, my cats were always fascinated by umbrellas. I used to keep it open for the cats to play hide and seek. Some will try to climb on top of it, and it will start rolling to one side, making the cats all the more excited.

Buying one is not easy 

The monsoon is approaching. I need to buy an umbrella, because the one that I have is so old that it's become totally dysfunctional. I have been looking at some online shopping portals; and after reading the elaborate product details and specifications I am totally confused. Nowadays, umbrellas can also send out a style statement, I am told.

An umbrella used to be such a simple device -- a piece of black cloth strung around a stick -- so that it can be held to protect oneself from rain and sunshine. But how complex and complicated it looks now. I never realised buying an umbrellas is so difficult.

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2018.")


  1. I never heard of cows being set off by an umbrella before. Interesting.

    1. Thanks, ARHuelsenbeck, for dropping by and for your comments.

  2. Those were some great facts your have shared. I did not know cows dislike umbrella and cats love them. After reading your post I realized that black umbrella can be used by anyone for any occasion.

  3. There is a superstition about umbrella. Some people believe opening an umbrella inside the home will bring bad luck. Can we bring an already opened umbrella inside the home? I don't know.

  4. This is such an interesting and entertaining post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I will see how my cat reacts to my umbrella. haven't really noticed before.

    1. Kanika, open the umbrella in front of the cats. That itself will excite them. And then they will start exploring the umbrella, and begin playing.

  5. wow! an entire post on the humble umbrella! NICE.
    you did justice to it

  6. I've had cats for most of my adult life but have never noticed any effect on them when an umbrella was around. Here, umbrellas come in many styles and colors. I usually get a purple one, those things that fold onto itself, so they're portable. I don't see them working in a monsoon though.

  7. Perhaps not all cats are fascinated by an open umbrella. I usually go for a black umbrella.