Of course, there’s nothing in the world that can compare to the Mumbai rains. It’s something that is exhilarating and enlivening, and exquisite and exotic.
Right now, summer’s begun in India. As the months go by and the heat becomes unbearable, all India will await the onset of monsoon. By May-end it’ll hit Kerala coast and reach Mumbai by the first week of June.
When it does, it changes the city from a snarling, over-heated beast into a cowering, demure virgin.
You know, I may be getting a bit carried away with romanticism here. In recent years, the uncontrolled urban sprawl has taken its toll and rains are more a problem than a respite to the summer heat.
But even now, you won’t find an Indian who doesn’t smile involuntarily when she hears of the rains.
One of the best pieces of journalism I’ve done is to write about the Mumbai rains when I was a reporter at The Daily (this was a long time ago…almost as far back as the time when dinosaurs roamed the planet), and had interviewed a few archetypal Bombayites (it wasn’t Mumbai then) such as Russy Karanjia, YD Phadke, G.R. Khairnar, Shobha De, Dr. PS Pasricha.
This morning, I was all ready and dressed to go out in the rain. Fortunately, I had a couple of appointments, so I had a reason to get wet. I had a meeting with Bill Dampier, my official mentor, and then to my son Che’s school for a discussion with his teachers about his dropping grades.
Great opportunity to walk in the rain; get drenched, get my socks soggy, jacket dripping with water, and fighting with the gusts of wind to hold my umbrella from turning inside out. I hadn’t factored the cold.
It was plain and simply wonderful; now my nose is running and I’m humming Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have you ever seen the rain? Actually, a better song is Raindrops keep falling on my head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (though there's no rain in the movie during this song).
One of the most amazing books on Indian monsoon is Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater. It’s the only authentic book on the Indian monsoon that I’ve read. It’s a book that one (as a native of Mumbai) can read without getting either a sense of déjà vu or that feeling of reading a travelogue written for a western audience by a westerner who has little or no clue about India.
Frater chases the monsoon from Kerala to Cherapunji – supposedly the wettest place on earth, according to the textbooks that were written during the British times, and haven’t been changed in over a hundred years, because most school textbooks in India even now claim that Cherapunji is in Assam. It isn’t. It’s in Meghalaya, and it isn’t the wettest place any longer, it has a water shortage.
The book has Nehru’s quote on Mumbai’s monsoon and how unimpressed he was by the momentous event.
See the post below for the quote.
Image: View from my window of Lawrence Ave W drenched in rain
Alexander Frater: http://www.panmacmillan.com/Authors%20Illustrators/displayPage.asp?PageTitle=Individual%20Contributor&ContributorID=70891&RLE=Author
Chasing the Monsoon: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Monsoon-Modern-Pilgrimage-Through/dp/0805020527