Yesterday, when I went to the school to pick up my daughter, I heard some 6 year olds chanting this masterpiece.
Come soon monsoon,
We are tired of watching cartoon,
When you come we'll play in the rain,
The summer heat is such a pain.
As I have not heard this before, I am assuming some budding young poet or poetess has recently penned these lines. Nature has been such an inspiration to us writers over the years. Think Wordsworth.
I can't help agreeing with this new young talent though. Everyday, I am doing the Lagaan act in Mumbai. Any sign of a passing cloud, I am rushing to the window. Is it raining yet? Just when the Ghanan ghanan ghana ghir aayee badra starts playing in my mind, the clouds disappear. Bummer. Apparently cyclone Aila has sucked out all the moisture and the rains are stranded somewhere.
The heat has been unbearable in the meanwhile. The kids look drained when they are back from school. The thick, 'protector of all virtues' uniforms do not help either. Their brand new umbrellas are yet to come out of their original packs. To add to their woes, I have started keeping them indoors till late evenings. So they grumble about the loss of playing time. What's more, the water supply is playing truant. As I refuse to let them bathe in muddy brown tanker supplied water, the poor kids have no option but to wait till late at night when fresh water comes, to wash off the accumulated grime and sweat. Yuck.
People all across India have a special fondness for rains. Come monsoon, we all shed our inhibitions and turn into peacocks. As a child, I remember dancing on our terrace , getting completely soaked . The lunch would consisit of khichdi and in the evening, if it still rained, we would all sit in a circle, have tea and pakodas. What bliss. In Kolkata, where I spent my summer vacations, the Kalboishakhi would cause a lot of cheer. The gusty wind signalled the onset of monsoons and we would all welcome the rains with glee.
Ayee brishti jhepe,
Dhaan debo mepe,
Dhaaner bhitor poka
Jamai babu boka.
( I am pretty bad at translations still I shall try. This is a popular Bengali limerick that invites the rain. Pour down fast and furious, rain. We will give you rice grains. The grains have insects and the brother-in-law is a fool ! See ,I told you I am bad at this. Please help me someone to authentically translate this.)
Delhi, a city where I grew up, rains often come as late as August. There, the monsoons,which last for may be around 15 days, are like the quintissential Punjabis. Passionate and loud. Accompanied by frightening lightnening and thunderstorms, the torrential rains would often uproot trees, cause waterlogging and bring cheers to thousands of children. The parched land would spring to life, there would be some peacocks dancing in the ridge area and the Punjabis would celebrate with spiked gol-gappas.
Baarish ayee chcham chcham
Lekar chchata nikle hum,
Pair phisalkar gir gaye hum,
Upar chchata neeche hum.
Mumbai rains are more sedate. There is a continuous, steady drizzle.The monotonous sound of rains falling sometimes act as lullabies and sometimes cause immense irritation, depending on how your day went. We initially love the respite it brings from summer heat but soon grow to resent it. The dug up roads can't handle the pressure. Water logging ruins many evening plans and housewives get increasingly angry about the wet clothes perpetually drying inside the house. The four months of continuous downpour finally starts to get on our over worked nerves and we start offering our fervent prayers to the rain gods to just leave us alone. After four months, the roads are hardly recognizable. Our houses permanently wear the aroma of mildew. Our leather shoes and bags are ruined beyond forever. And the kids have grown bored of paper boats and have started watching cartoon again.
Still, come June, next year, we will eagerly look at the sky and pray. We will still buy new umbrellas and loathe to throw away our old ones. We will pack away our cotton clothes and expensive shoes and take out our tacky, synthetic ones. We will keep a change of clothes in office just in case we need to stay the night there. And the latest, we will keep a hammer in the car so that just in case, there is a repeat of 26th July, we can escape from our cars by breaking down the windows.
As I am adding finishing touches to my post, I can hear the faint grrrr sound of thunder. It has become cloudy again. May be all of us should sit in front our computers with some coffee or tea and some pakodas. We can swap our favourite rain stories.
What do you think? Shall we?