Saturday, June 20, 2009

Come Soon, Monsoon

Before you guys cringe at my tacky header, let me clarify that this awesome line is not my creation.

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?


Meira said...

yup, we're praying for rains in gurgaon too. But there's just one problem...rain plays havoc on gurgaon (and mumbai too :( ). Roads are clogged, no drainage, traffic jams ...yuck. If we are the peacocks, they're the peahen...the ugly side of monsoon:D

SJ said...

Ooo..I love that poem-come soon monsoon :P I don't like rain, because I hate gloomy weather. One thing I do love about rainy seasons is,like you mentioned, pakodas and chai!

sujata sengupta said...

rains are best enjoyed when all are at home and its pouring outside. The hot coffee and the spicy pakodas, the pitter patter on the window panes and the smell of earth...Its been a long time since I have had a full season of rains.

Onkar said...

A wonderful piece. I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Of course, in Delhi also, we are eagerly waiting for the rain. The heat has become too difficult to handle.

AnjuGandhi said...

Aparna Till yesterday I had forgotten what are rains like? but Thank God today morning rains did honour mumbaites with a fleeting visit with a promise to visit again. We all are waiting for rains and of course, pav vadas, bhajiyas , masala tea
But your post has nostalgic memories of rains. dirty muddy overflowing roads. mosquitoes, fungus on the shoes, damp clothes in the house, poor networks( heavy rains and winds will surely lead to it) any this will do but Oh God! please send some rains.
aankhen thak gayi intezaar karte karte. ab to daras dikha ja

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I am not a big monsoon-fan (being paranoid about drying clothes) but in Mumbai, what with the water level going down and the sweltering heat, we NEED rains NOW.

Liked the shower of rhymes in your post.

SJ said...

cough ...cough...Me. huge fan following? me? good joke!!! Most of them are my classmates, one husband one my mom who have been forced to read my blog (at gun point says the husband) and comment!!!!

ZB said...

yea, this is the talk going on everywhere, in Kerala it supposed to have rained a month ago, alas, still haven't.

Monsoon is still fooling around.

"There, the monsoons,which last for may be around 15 days, are like the quintissential Punjabis. Passionate and loud."-lovely comparison. :)))

eye-in-sty-in said...

Bombay ka problem to solve ho gaya :-)

sanjay vyas said...

in westwrn rajasthan falling rain drops used to be a rare ocassion but nowadays it happens many times a year,though the pattern has become more erratic.
enjoyed every word of ur post.

Swatantra said...

Nice post!! In my childhood days, We use to pray for rain with the below sing

Rabba Rabba Minh barsa Sadi kothi Dane pa..

As the rain in Punjab is important for the harvest of rice ( paddy is grown in april)!!

Siddharth my son loves rain!!

BrownPhantom said...

It's raining everyday in Bangalore :). Need I tell about the cool breeze and mild sun in the afternoon.

Having said that, yes I remember as a kid we used to shout out loud all the tain poems. The one you listed here is a good addtition :).

Sakshi said...

I love the rains....especially the Indian Monsoon. As a kid I used to patiently wait for 10 months for my vacation to go to Kerala and we always went during the monsoons... it definitely was heaven at that time. Too many sweet memories :) you made me all nostalgic

Usha said...

Great blog...

Its freaking hot out here in Shanghai as well...well it did rain yesterday but not for long..and chillin winds didn't accompany the rain either :(

Then again I love summer compared to long rainy seasons :D BUT summer in India can be pretty unbearable...Argh...

Good luck with the battle against the heat.

Anonymous said...

Aaah! The rains.Just love them.
I am missing kerala so much now. Mom says rain is playing hide and seek there. Would love relax in my sitout when its raining outside and blog about the wonderful feeling.(With tea and pokodas)

Nona said...

Nice post! Waterlogging seems to common problem in India. Whenever the rains fall in NCR area, you can read about a tree falling on the road and disrupting traffic.

The monsoons on the west side (Kerala, Maharashtra) are different since it rains non-stop. Your entire life is affected and like you said, the smell, the ruined shoes...

But even then, monsoons are beautiful. :)

Sumandebray said...

Hey! Nicely written post; I thought I will try to be a bit funny with my translation attempts! Please feel free to knock this off if you wish. A cool version and the other a YO version;

“Pour hard on us oh rain
We will give all the promised grain
There are insects in the grain
Sis, your hubby got no brain”

“Rain it hard YO rain it hard … YO
Yo will get the promised grain … YO
Loads of funky insects in grain… kwul
Bro – in- law... you turned out to be a darn fool”

Aparna said...

Hahahaha Sumandebroy, you are an absolute genius!!! A YO version? I am rolling on the floor!! I loved both of them. Forgot every protocol about thanking the previous readers and replied first to you. Brilliant.But tell me honestly, how long did you take to translate this?

Aparna said...

@ Meira,joint prayers may work and the monsoon might arrive soon. If it doesn't rain in Mumbai, we get no water. So people are willing to live with traffic jams, bad drainage and wet clothes.

@ SJ, it's raining here now. Kuch pakoda-shakoda ho jaaye? At least your husband reads your blogs. Mine refuses. And my mother is not even aware that I write.

@ Sujata, so come over. We will have some cup-e cup-e cha and adda.

@ Onkar, thanks. Hope Delhi gets some rains soon.

@ AnjuGandhi, yes it is raining at last. Hope it cools down now. The heat was abominable.

@ Sucharita Sarkar, well, looks like we have to start thinking about the wet clothes once again. It is raining here now.

@ ZillionBig, the errant monsoon has not landed even in Kolkata. The heat I believe is opressive there. Lets hope we soon get some rains all across the country.

@ Eye-in-sty-in, hopefully yes. It has been raining a little bit since yesterday.

Thanks guys for writing in. I really appreciate it.

Aparna said...

@ Sanjay Vyas, thank you very much. Hope you will come again to my blog.

@ Swatantra, rains all over India bring cheer to the farmers, hence the songs and poems.I really love this common culture.

@ BrownPhantom, lucky you. We were praying for it here.I wish you had listed some of those poems and songs here.

@ Sakshi, I have heard a lot of stories of rains in Kerala from my college friend. She also used to visit during that time. Monsoon or no, it is a beautiful state anyway.

@ Usha, thanks. Hope the weather in China is good.

@ Jyothi, I envy your sit-out. I dont have anything like that in Mumbai. Thanks for writing in.

@ Nona, yes, everything said and done, monsoon does have magic. What will we do without rains?

Thanks for writing in all of you.

R. Ramesh said...

Heat has been unbearable?? u people sure must visit this part of the globe and experience the desert heat...have fun..:)

Smita said...

Sigh to pakodas coffee n free time!!!!

But it finally rained today!! And am so relieved though it washes away my plans of wearing saree 2moro. But anything for rains :)

And that kiddo poem was awesome!!!

Guruprasad said...

hi aparna. this is my first time here.

came here through your comment on my blog.

i was away for the weekend and i heard it did start raining a bit over the weekend. i hope the saying comes true - when it rains it pours! :)

(do email me whenever you put up a post... i would like to keep dropping in...)

Sharmistha Guha said...

I like the rains when I'm indoors!
Hate the smell of damp/semi-dried clothes
hate the mildewed stench

ALl in all, am not too fond of monsoons!!
But as you said....the sweltering heat makes even the likes of me yearn for some rain!

Rachna said...

Hi Aparna,

First time on your blog and I enjoyed reading the first three posts. All the best to you!

Supriya Dutta said...

ohhh.....the first limerick was beautiful...and really loved your post as it drenched the parched soul....really.."MONSOON, COME SOON"

Lala said...

i lived in a coastal region for 4 years... i was on a paid vacation there... they gave me a certificate in the end and told me i was an engineer which was fine by me.

the place was hot. wait... did i say hot? yes. it was hot. very very hot and very humid too... and then it used to rain. and the rain wouldn't stop for the next 4 months. umbrellas were useless as the winds had taken a fancy for them...

ah... now i am too nostalgic about manipal to crib... i hope you get the point i was trying to make... if i was doing that. (i'm not too sure. monday blues i guess!)

Sumandebray said...

I am glad that you liked it ...
I was too stressed at work and decided to freak out a little !!!

manuscrypts said...

prasoon has competition ;)
meanwhile, looks like the prayers have been answered?

ZB said...

Hey, You have been tagged. Visit my last post for more info.:)))

Sai Charan said...

Yes, the summer is still waiting to go on a vacation and hand over its charge to the rainy season; but where are the rains??

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this piece from the first line till the end.

This is simply an outstanding piece of writing. Keep writing more...


Neelam Prabhugaonker Shetye said...

hey aparna...visitin your blog for the first time....really love your writing..:)
its lovely how you present a part of your life and family to everyone with such affection n humor...wud surely luv to read more...

Childhood Journeys said...

I am getting addicted to your blog. Well for the translation of the bengali poem (choda as we say) - you were spot on. Brother in law should be son-in-law.

Pour down fast and furious, rain. We will give you rice grains. The grains have insects and the son-in-law is a fool !(Yon cannot rhyme this in english)

Aparna said...

@ R. Ramesh, I spent 5 years in Muscat when I was a child. I do remember the heat. Didn't bother me much as I was kept indoors by my mom. I know you guys really suffer the heat more than we do. Thanks for writing.

@ Smita, you can still wear that saree. Not really raining so much anyway. Thanks.

@ Guruprasad, thanks for visiting. You write very well and I keep visiting your blogs.

@SGD looks like we have to live with the mildew, the rains are finally here.

@ Rachna, thanks hope you will visit again.

@ Priya, thanks a lot.You have made my day.

@lala, I do get what you mean. We know a good thing when we don't have it any more. Good to know you enjoyed your engineering days.

@ Sumandebroy, are you still stressed? Then please go ahead and translate some more limericks for us. You can make a post infact.

@ Manuscrypts, life would be so boring without competition. Yes the rains finally seem to be here.

@ Zillionbig, thanks a lot.

@ Sai Charan, thank you very much. Glad to know you enjoyed reading the post.

@ Neelam Prabhu Gaonkar. Thank you very much. I love my family and I guess it shows in my writing.

A Childhood Journey, I am honoured. You should read sumandebroys translation here in the comments for that translation. Isn't jamai babu also brother in law?

NR said...

Ohh...right now anything thats in full demand in India is rain...but the supply seems to b nil!!! I never liked monsoon but this year i really want them to come as soon as possible.
The heat is unbearable. I live in Kolkata n the heat plus the deadly humidity takes away all our energy.

If something positive is to be seen from this tough summer then its definitely those young kids coming up with lovely cute lines!!

Dev said...

Really wonderful article..Rally great.


DevPalmistry |Lines tell the story of ur life

NG said...

i am a big fan of the rains... and bombay rains are sooo romantic...u dont have to be out there with someone...just urself and still feel the romance :)i miss it soooo much

as much as i love the rains in bombay...i dread the ones in they are nothing but cold showers... so cold and so windy that no umbrella or jacket helps...

i loved ur post... and the way u have spoken about the rains and the longing for rains in different parts of India

Unknown said...

i love the rains when I'm at home snugging in my favorite warm clothes. with onion bhajiyas and adrak chai thrown in, sitting on my terrace watching the pitter-patter!

Magical Homes said... rained in mumbai today...i was in delhi yesterday though and the place was like a furnace...i'd forgottn hot hot delhi can be....

Roshni said...

eheheh! couldn't help laughing at your 'protector of all virtues uniform' remark!
Rain menat school was closed and that was the best part of the monsoons! Other than that, dancing in the rain, then having a warm bath and curling up in bed with a warm blanket and a good book and then having your ma coming in with hot tea and bhaajis!!!

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your nice comments!

Urmi said...

Very beautiful post. Though I don't like rain at all but your post seems to be very interesting. Very well written.

partha sen said...

Really, its 45degree in Allahabad, and people are dying to see the rain. hope monsoon may come soon.
Thanks for your comment on my post.

Unknown said...

Nice post, and not a week too soon! I notice you did not use the famous Mumbai saying: "Cyclone aila toh monsoon gayela".

Unknown said...

this scorching heat has hit us all.. now its time for some cool rain.. kids have a nice way of putting things and your mention of Lagaan song bu AR Rahman was apt... BIL is a fool!

Mystic Margarita said...

Beautiful post...I love the Monsoons. The very word is like a narcotic! I'm so glad I found your blog! And thanks again for dropping by mine :)

Margaret said...

A very well written post Aparna, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

What a difference to here. We've just had a week of rain and we're crying out for the sun. Our summer's over before it even begins!

But I can certainly understand you all eagerly awaiting the monsoon.

I loved the kid's little 'monsoon' verse. :D

Aparna said...

Thanks Nazish. My parents live in Kolkata and I hear how hot it is from them everyday.

Dev, thank you very much.

Hi Neha, I have been to Boston and have experienced that cold wet glad I dont stay there, though it is very beautiful.

Purnima, hope you are enjoying those onion bhajiyas since rains are finally here.

Mumbai Diva, heard Delhi had some rains recently. we need it all over the country.

Aparna said...

Thanks Roshni. You have an amazing blog with all those wonderful stories, I love visiting it.

Thanks Babli, I hope you will keep visiting.

Thanks Partha, hope you enjoyed reading my posts.

Sonada, I never khnew such a saying existed. I would have surely used it otherwise. Seemed really apt.

Thank you Tiger.

Thank you Mystic Margarita. Hope you will visit again.

Margaret, hi. Yes things are a bit different this side of the world and inspite of the mess and the chaos, all of us look forward to the rains.Thanks for dropping by.

sHiNiNg sUrYa :-) said...

Aparna, same painful condition was also here a week back.
gave u my link bellow.
go thru tht, u ll knw hw painful was tht for me?

Sunita Mohan said...

Oh what fun! Another Bombay blog ... another monsoon lover. Hi!
Aren't the monsoons the headiest thrill ever? Love it!

ani_aset said...

wow what lovely description of mumbai and delhi rains..i can relate to it so well :D

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