The monsoons are here and in some parts of India, it’s not just raining cats or dogs, but bringing you a bounty of fish! Recently, my friend’s northeastern help who has just returned from Guwahati, told me how her house on a hillside would get flooded regularly. But she didn’t seem to mind too much, since she could collect the fish swimming through, in a bucket, to fry later!
In Delhi, for cynics like us, monsoons just mean clogged roads and, if you’re in office, a signal to leave quickly to avoid a bad jam. If you’re fortunate enough to be working from home, you get to look out and enjoy the pitter-patter of rain outside as you work. But, monsoons today are about nostalgia more than anything else. Most of us remember running through the streets with friends as the showers came down for the sheer joy of it, making paper boats, jumping in puddles, and the smell of hot ‘pakodas’. In the sanitised world we now live in, getting dirty is anathema and eating fried stuff a fate worse than death. In fact, you don’t even need to step out to check if it’s raining…there’s a website that tells you if it’s raining now. Go ahead, check and…well, tweet? Perhaps there’ll soon be an app to simulate the smell of wet earth to get one’s creative juices flowing.
A friend from Meghalaya recalls the sound of rain falling on the sloping tin roof of her house, for days on end. Another from Assam remembers her older cousins fashioning a raft from banana trees and going down the pond in it, her uncle pushing them towards the slush to build their immunity! What changed? Helicopter parenting, restricted access to safe places or just an increasing tendency to stay indoors with our gadgets?
We all have a favourite memory of the rains. Avijit Sengupta, a writer and self-confessed pluviophile (look it up!), remembers walking through the sands of Alibaug with a friend, as the rains came crashing down. He describes the visual, “So forceful was the shower that it was white all around, with the swaying pine forest in silhouette. The sky was grey, reflected in the sea beneath, and the surroundings awash in rain made it look like a watercolour painting. The best part was when we spotted a horse-drawn carriage on the beach carrying passengers who loved the rains, just like us! It appeared from the distance like a silhouette and grew clearer as it approached us, making the scene more ethereal than we imagined.” He makes it a point to walk out in the first showers of the season, even if it means going up to the office terrace, to get soaked to the skin. Being someone who loves routine and discipline, he finds walking in the rain liberating, a chance to break free, an almost spiritual experience where nothing else exists.
Let’s not take the monsoons for granted this year, whether it visits in full force or comes in a trickle. Indulge the child within and make a paper boat (there are YouTube videos, if you’ve forgotten!), or just get wet in the rain and, if you’re stuck in traffic, it’s time to turn on some classic Bollywood monsoon melodies! Remember Kishore Kumar and Madhubala’s ‘Ek Ladki Bheegi Bheegi Si’? Time to tune in!