Saturday, July 24, 2010

Indian Monsoon


Its a cloudy day outside since its the monsoon season in India.  It had rained last night while we were asleep. It was my favorite season as I grew up. I used to love to go on my terrace where I could be alone and get drenched in the pouring rain. There was no scare of catching a cold or falling sick.

Indian literature and music has so much romance associated with this season. Most bollywood movies are incomplete without the hero and heroin getting drenched in the rain and singing a song. Two of the best being “Rim jhim gire saavan, sulagh sulagh jaaye maan” sung by both Kishore and Lata for the Movie “Manzil” and the sexy song of Mister India where Sridevi, getting drenched in the rain was singing “Kate nahin katte ye din yeh raat”. Of course, there is the song from Chandni too. I’m sure everybody has their favorites , rain songs being plenty in bollywood movies.

In Indian classical music which has its origins in the Vedas (namely Sama-Veda, which has instructions in it of how a note and hymn must be sung) every raga is associated with different moods. That’s why every raga has a time for its rendition. And for the mood that the monsoon brings, we have Raag Malhar.  Mood of the Indian monsoon could be of Romance and Joy for the youngsters, feeling of peace, satisfaction and contentment for the middle aged,  For the poor, every monsoon cloud brings the threat of destruction. The threat that their huts will collapse or get washed away in a freak flood. Indian farmers depend a lot on this season. The feeling of the farmers has been so well expressed in the song of the Oscar nominated movie “Lagaan” called “Ghanana Ghanana,  ghir ghir,  aaye badera”. 

For me, I am reminded of the day in Mysore when, after an hour long swim in the university swimming pool (an open pool, not protected from sun or rain), we girls had walked 3 miles in pouring rain back to our hostel, on the way splashing in the puddles and singing.  There was not a soul visible around. The university area was such a beautiful place far from the crowd of the town. Just as we neared our hostel, we had stopped to buy some “bondas”, stuffed potato fritters and hot tea from a mobile cafe. There is this rhyme that goes like:

“There was a girl, tall and thin and fair. Her hair, her hair, was just the color of ginger..” (to be repeated)

We had made a line sideways holding each other’s hand through our waist, criss-crossed in the back, and done a step dance to that. That day and many more like that had been my fun nest (as my daughter would put it) rainy days. Even my kids are trying to get wet in the rain when ever they get a chance. Haven’t seen or had this type of fun back in the USA and I miss it. I miss it so much. Also realized that I haven’t gotten a chance to get wet in the rain with my husband. We haven’t romanced in the rain like how Amitabh Bachan and Moushmi Chatterji walked in the rain in ‘Manzil’. Maybe someday we will be able to do that before we are too old to hold our teeth in our hands (like one of my friends had put it once).

I don’t feel like spoiling the mood of this season by writing about the negatives of the rain, but we don't live inside a bollywood movie, do we?  The problems a common man faces in the rainy season, usually dampen all the good feelings that the rains bring.. Lots of problems that are associated with the rains could be listed. Here goes a tiny list.

1. Mosquitoes. Their population increases in a jiffy just with the first rain itself. Lots of other pests population increases with the rains. Beetles and other ephemeral creatures come.

2. Puddles form on the roads, thanks to the substandard roads that are built by greedy contractors.

3. Sometimes, the puddles are so big, a innocent pedestrian or a scooter, has no idea how deep the puddle maybe and gets stuck.

4. Overflowing gutters everywhere, thanks to the great garbage disposal system that we have here.

5. Jammed traffic

6. Water contamination with broken pipes.

7. Leading to spread of diseases.

8. Just like we don't have electricity during summers due to in-sufficient water in the reservoirs, we don't have electricity with a little hard rain too.

9. Clothes, hung on the line, don't dry easily.

But, in spite of all the problems the rain brings, everybody in India,  has this in mind as they are on their way home from work on a rainy day.

Tea with Pakodas, mirchi or non-mirchi”.

My best imagination used to be, to watch the rain drops hitting the ground, sitting by the window with a cup of tea in my hand and a plate of fritters by the side. How I love the rainy season here and I’m happy to be back here to feel the rain on me once again.


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