Monday, July 03, 2006

Wanted: A downpour

Mumbai is getting it again. And I am sorry if this post sounds unapologetic in a time of difficulty.

A few days ago (before the deluge) there was a news piece/ end of the news filler** on NDTV titled Monsoon Magic. It basically tried to romanticise the Mumbai showers, spinning it to show loads of little kids walking around the semi-flooded streets of Mumbai and splashing each other with dirty street water, couples walking along the beach in the pouring rain holding hands and smiling beatifically and generally a lot of green foliage blowing in the lashing winds and downpour. It made everything look romantically beautiful and accompanied by some fairly good music made for one of the few pieces of non-news worth watching.

But this post is not about the rain in Mumbai. It is about the rain in London. Contrary to common belief, London gets a good hot summer interspersed by short drizzly bits that act as the temperature control. Winter however is an altogether different season. Grey skies, a constant drizzle and the sharp claws of cold pretty much sum up 7 months of the year. I have long hated winter but after 4 years here have got used to the cold and built appropriate defences against it. I can safely say I am used to the winters and to a point even like them. Talk about sea change.

What I still intensely dislike (someone keeps telling me how 'hate' is too strong a word to use so flippantly) is the Chinese torture drip-drip rain. Pins and needles when it gets beyond weightless mist, London’s rains are a bit of a joke in the rain game. All you get is what you can’t really see: a rain mist that is a soft, weightless and continuous, that sinks into your clothes even though you can’t really see any droplets and renders you sopping wet by the time you reach the tube station. A barely there drizzle that leaves you wanting more power - oomph if you like - a deluge with a punch. No umbrella really helps – only your head is protected from the sideway moving rain – and strong winds usually mean your umbrella will upturn or be snatched from your hands. When the rain does become a smidgeon heavier it’s for a few scant minutes. And by the time this Indian has pulled on her shoes and run out with every intention of feeling the weight of the rain on her face, it’s gone back down to nothingness. To me the English rains are such a disappointment – not nearly as romantic as story books make them sound.

In my minds eye I can see the big terrace in front of our first floor flat in Delhi being pounded with a monsoon downpour. I was 7 yrs young and the Nik had been born a few month before. As there were no impending exams (my parents excuse for not letting me play holi till I grew up enough to not want to play it myself) my mum allowed me to stand/ dance on the terrace while the heavens opened. The smell of the ground, the smell of the rain, the feeling of getting soaking wet in the rain legitimately, the smile on my mums face as she watched me from the doorway with my baby brother in her arms, the feeling that all was well with my world, that everything was perfect in those moments – everything about that day is clearly etched in my memory.

All these years on, even newly in my 30s, the magic of the monsoon has not diminished for me. In my world, to be classified as rain, it should be constituted of heavy, big, robust drops that cannot help but be attracted to gravity with their sheer weight. The drops should hit the ground with a perceptible ping, a bounce releasing the sweet smell of the earth beneath. A sheet of water that means business. Once in a while it should catch you unaware, soak you before you have the chance to get under that umbrella. It should wash your face as you gaze skyward, running in rivulets down your cheeks.

It’s bright and sunny in London and we are going through one of the mini-heatwaves (30 degrees in which all the newly-moved anglised desis are complaining about how unbearable is the heat – grow up people!). Despite immensely enjoying this hot and bright weather I am longing for a downpour. A sharp shower that will bring the temperatures down a bit and possibly drench me as I walk home. I’ve only ever seen one serious downpour in 4 years of London living – isn’t that a shame? And before you ask, yes I have been looking, monitoring and waiting patiently for the rain to be worth my while! Watching that NDTV filler brought back all those memories and I cannot help longing for heavy rain.

**This new footnote thing is attributed to Falstaff:
Since the advent of 24 hour news channel, the smart masses and not so smart producers have realised that there is only so many times you can repeat the same thing. Very often a slow news day will appear (like 5 times a week) and since nobody interesting enough could be found to be hounded to death/ spycammed into admitting something riveting, news channels will create ‘interesting’ fillers. It is this bloggers opinion that news fillers are usually boring bits of non-news that have been jazzed up to fill in the time between the actual news and the repeat cycle of news that starts in 4 mins…beep….

1 comment:

  1. hey....if it rains here soon, i'll send u a foto from my terrace! i hope u'r enjoying the summer.. i kinda felt like the rain in london would just drip .. all grey and boring without a personality.. it kinda missed the dhoom dhamaka of rain was a great time to listen to jazz, mull over life and write depressing thoughts. delhi rain.. i'm hoping.. after so many years of missing it.. will be a great excuse to go for a walk, look out for a peacock in deer park, enjoy pakoras and live, breathe.. smile.. again!!