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Its monsoon time once again in Mumbai. Finally I can actually declare that it is indeed Monsoons. For you see, the rains have been quite reticent this time round and no one could really classify whether the ocassional drizzles were pre-monsoons or the real deal.
Now having carried an umbrella around with me for a week, and having to use it almost everyday, I personally can declare that the rainy season has arrived.
Many other cities in India however are unable to boast of the same. While some are getting cloudy skies, others are simply stuck with an over-extended, unwelcome summer. Global Warming sure has caught up with us, and how! It is declared drought in many states now. Sad.

Till the rains started here, the intolerable heat and humidity day after day had an inverse effect not only on people, but their behaviour as well. More intolerant people, more impatience and more unrest in the world. And then it rained.

Monsoons seem to unleash something in the primal spirit of man. It mellows down their outlook and makes the world a better place. Getting wet in the rain touches something so basic inside us that no matter what, at some level we like it. Sure it is inconvenient. To think of going to office drenched, is horrible. To have wet shoes all day is unbearable, and to think of acutally cleaning up the now sullied clothes - ugh!
But abandoning all that, and just letting yourself think of the raindrops on your face, the feeling is indescribable. A feeling of joy, fun, abandon and freedom. And a feeling that something is really, 'washing you clean'. For that moment, all the practical problems can be laid aside, all the worries kept in a box and locked up. While walking towards the shelter without an umbrella, it is best to just give in and enjoy the freedom that a blast of raindrops give you, rather than worry about how your silk gown will probably never look the same again. Believe me, it is totally worth it. The silk gown cant be salvaged anyway, afterall.

In India, the monsoons come after peak summers. After months of harsh heat, combined with humidity in 3/4ths of the country, the monsoons are like the much needed glass of water after a hot hike. And the people love it. There are odes written to the monsoons in every language, praising it, pleading it, asking it to come as soon as possible. Some of the favourite names chosen by parents for their children has much to do with rains, monsoons, and rainy clouds. And so many blogs written by Indians have rains in some form or the other, as their blog name. All this is indicative of the importance and reverence given to rains. Even when some cities complain about it being an eleven month monsoon per year, the moment rains delay by even a week, no one cares about any inconvenience. It is the relief that negates anything else.

For that is what it comes down to. Relief. Rains bring in wet soils and blue skies and greenery everywhere. They bring in clouds to block out the harsh sun, temporarily make it bearable to venture out without squinting, and then, once the clouds losen their burden, leave you with a clean, washed look everywhere, including the sky. And the effect on Man is palpable. People mellow down, problems seem smaller, and tempers running high for so long, temper down.

In cities like Mumbai where winters are only a term, and not a reality, and peak winters provide only 10C as the minimum in three months, monsoons drop temperatures to a pleasant below-25C, and add strong winds laden with tiny droplets into the bargain - which of course, make it really much cooler. And this may go on for days. Of course, nothing beats the view of Marine Drive with the sea waves cresting over the high embankment onto the roads in peak monsoons.

In other cities, like Calcutta, monsoons are torrential outbursts, sometimes continuing for days on end, with large drops of water splashing, with thunder and lightening and gusty winds - a Big Drama Spectable. Rumble of thunder on the horizon, puddles of water, slanting rain pelting down, strong gusts of wind and drops in temperature! Going out on the streets one feels that they can be blown away, carried away by the winds and rains to the black thunder clouds, to another land. There are very few people who actually do not like it at all.

In Delhi, the dry heat saps away everything from the surface of the earth, and then the monsoons bring everything back. Bringing in cold winds instead of the Hot Loo(wind), the monsoons add to the beauty by bringing in water as well. Suddenly the landscape which had turned brown and dustry turns green. Things start to sparkle, the dust settles and there is a rainbow in every mind. All Air conditioners and coolers can finally be switched off, and the air becomes a little humid, providing relief to parched bodies.

With the monsoons also emerges another primal desire - the love of food. When its raining outside, and you are cool and sheltered inside, feeling the spray on your face carried with gusts of wind through the open windows, nothing completes the setting like a plate of hot bhajias and tea. Or corn on the cob (bhutta) - roasted with salt and lemon rubbed on it in your hand. Or piping hot Khichdi (not the North Indian one for ill people) with papad / fried potatoes and tangy mango pickle for lunch. Or hot buttered aalu parathas - yum! In fact, anything hot is fun to eat. And when its raining, we love to much. It prepares one for the forthcoming rain dance ;)
And then, to emphasis the cold chilled feeling, there are ice creams and kulfis and cold drinks. The other end of the monsoons spectrum.

Yes, its monsoon once again, my rain gear is out, and though the mush, the irritation of arriving disheveled and wet to office and the impossibility of keeping things dry increase, one thing is for sure. With the extende summer, I realised just how much I missed it. Im glad its back. As for asking the rain to go away? Not me!

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
2nd Jul, 2009 07:40 (UTC)
And thus speaketh the poetess!
:) well, we are still waiting for the old chap monsoon here in the dry land! But I do remember skidding on bike, going to a friends place for bandage and a cuppa tea, countless nights exploring the sky filled with monsoon clouds and comparing them with battle formation of huge armies, that reddish hue in the sky visible every night but yet so different.. Steaming pakodis or spicy khichdi while rain pelting the window ledge.. Hmmm I do miss the rain and that window ledge. Would be first monsoon in my current place and I am kinda scared of all the mud thats gonna be there in parking lot but I am truly looking forward to the Monsoons to begin.
2nd Jul, 2009 09:44 (UTC)
Strong rains are welcome
but most of the time we have an insipid drizzle that just raises the humidity. In Bangalore that's not a problem, but it somehow always rains only in the late evenings!
And in most places outside of Bombay- rain = powercuts >.>
2nd Jul, 2009 09:51 (UTC)
Re: Strong rains are welcome
Oh if your talking negatives of rain, there's many more than powercuts only! Cold and Flu to start with, and Malaria to end with. :/
2nd Jul, 2009 09:57 (UTC)
Re: Strong rains are welcome
I wonder..the old nursery rhyme of 'rain rain go away' would not be popular in India.
2nd Jul, 2009 09:59 (UTC)
Re: Strong rains are welcome
oh yes. I remember wondering about the rhyme as a kid - and my mom giving soem lame excuse to ward me off.
And yeah, thats what I mentioned in the last line as well.
14th Jul, 2009 08:24 (UTC)
I hated the rains in Calcutta, and loved them in Delhi. Life stops in Calcutta after a downpour, but Delhi gets a new lease of life. Dunno about Bombay, but if you make it sound so romantic, wouldn't believe the critics any more :)

Bangalore in the rains is cold, cloudy, and ideal for bike rides to nearby towns/cities...

Oreen (http://dragons-fly.blogspot.com)
14th Jul, 2009 08:33 (UTC)
Well, monsoons in Bombay dont really satisfy me - it just keeps raining (small drops) in high speed or low speed. I loved rains in Calcutta. Maybe because I was in college things dint seem to stop. Anyway, the infrastructure has improved there and water barely logs. The opposite has happened in bbay. Ppl race home at the hint of rains, trains stop working with first few drops and all taxis refuse to travel.

However, monsoons anywhere has an identity and charm of its own. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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