Few things bring as much joy as the first few drops of rainfall at the end of a long summer.
We all count days as we look up at the vast skies and try to predict the rains as does the weather man. From the farmers, foot-ball enthusiasts, nature lovers to the common public sweating and sighing as they cope with the vagaries of global warming, each of us anticipate the rains each year, hoping that the season lasts long than it did the year before!
The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word “mausam” meaning season. Monsoon as a phenomenon is vital for agriculture and the economy in general. A delayed or poor monsoon leads to a poor harvest, or a crop failure, impacting millions across south-east Asia.
The rains are beautiful, liberating, and romantic. It means differently to each of us even though it is unanimously welcomed. For some, the charm lies in curling up next to the window, watching the raindrops fall as they browse through their favourite book sipping a hot cup of coffee. For others, an elaborate lunch comprising steaming plates of hilsha and khichri are the highlights on a rainy afternoon before a well-deserved siesta. Monsoon evokes varied memories, from sailing paper boats, inhaling the sweet smell of the wet earth after a torrential downpour, watching the sky change myriad colours, wading through knee deep water to playing Antakshari with friends on the long bus rides from school.
Growing up in Calcutta, I looked forward to the monsoon season not only because it coincided with my birthday month, but also because it was a welcome relief after the scorching summer months. As kids, the advent of the season marked the promise of a brand new raincoat and umbrella from K.C. Paul & Sons. We would run to the terrace as we returned from school, unperturbed by the ominous clouds which indicated the onset of a thunderstorm. We would jump on the puddles that formed due to the assimilation of water, and splash water on all and sundry. The evening rendezvous would be followed by a round of piping hot tea accompanied with spicy pakoras. One could see the yellow cabs, the Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial and the maidan with an almost new pair of eyes. The young couples would sneak to the Princep Ghat to enjoy a serendipitous evening while the older folks would enjoy the view cautiously as they looked out from their verandahs.
The rains in Chennai served as a perfect excuse to explore the hidden gems of TN and Karnataka such as Chikmagalur, Ooty and Coorg. I have vivid memories of driving along the rain-drenched picturesque coffee estates, taking in the freshness and the beauty of the surroundings. Even God’s Own Country dons an unnatural beauty as the lakes and water bodies become ever more resplendent due to the bountiful rainfall attracting visitors from all over India.
The rains in Mumbai are a sharp contrast to what I have witnessed before. The force of the wind along with the continuous downpour requires one to hold on to their umbrellas, save they fly away or worse, tear down. True to Bombay spirit, even the heaviest rainfall does not disrupt life in any way and people go about doing their business like they would on any given ordinary day. Despite the many inconveniences that the rain caused, young and old all welcomed the rain with an unusual fervor, true to the character of the city.
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