Indian summer leads into the monsoons. As the heat of summer gives way to smell of the first monsoon rain, a lot changes for India!
Monsoons are not the same as they used to. When the entire family used to sleep on the terrace and then during the night, the rain would start falling. All the terraces of the neighborhood would witness a skirmish. The light matresses and sheets were quickly folded.. the cots (manjian) were lifted by men and put on a side and everyone would rush down into the hot rooms.
When the rains had started and the initial dust in the air had settled down, I still remember that we used to get out in the rain and bathe under the monsoon showers. The freshness of the rain and the wonder of the the droplets from heaven is difficult to describe!
By the time the monsoons arrived, the best of mangoes would have been tasted – the dussheris and the langdas.. and now, was the time when the whole family would sit together in the evenings as people on the street below would run helter skelter as every one would sip on some hot chai with excellent hot pakoras made of potatoes, methi, onion, etc. In those days the ketchup had just about arrived, and the Mothers those days would learn how to make some at home along with different types of chutneys.
So, the pakoras were usually enjoyed with home-made tomato ketchup and some mint chutney.
Fate of people
Monsoon is also the season when not only the thermometer of the weather goes up or down but also the stock market temperature based on how good the rains have been. Monsoon brings joy or despair to millions in India. On the one side, you can see the farmers rejoicing because their crop will be good this time… on the other side, millions are left without homes as the floods take over their homes.
Rain is a difficult thing to handle in India. We have not figured out how to exactly meet it when it reached India. With great trepidation we meet it every year mixed lot of anticipation… hoping this year at least it will give us more than it is likely to take away!
The crop that it bestows then feeds the masses for the entire year, despite the inefficiency of the Government distribution system!
Love and Fear
Rain and thunder also leaves behind memories of moments of love and moments which were the darkest. The thunderous night when some calamity befell a family – a death or an accident – remains forever linked to rains. On the other hand, the time that you spent with your lover – a la Bollywood couple – is also there to live upto.
When no one spoke, yet a magic was being unleashed.. no hands were touched, yet the soul was drenched in each other’s love. Poets have immortalized the rains as well. The movie, Barsat ki Raat with Bharat Bhushan and Madhubala has Sahir Ludhianvi pen the most beautiful songs. The drenched and sensous Madhubala from Chalti ka Naam Gadi (Ik ladki bheegi bhaagi si) can never be forgotten!
Some also love the underlying sensuality of Rim jhim gire saawan – another classic song!
On that note let me close with a couplet of visit by a beloved on a rainy night, that I find most beautiful:
Ghar tapakta hai, aur us par wo mehmaan hain;
paani paani ho rahi hai; aabroo barsaat mein!
My house is leaking, and she is my guest tonight;
the honor drains out in this rain.
PS: it is not easy to translate the double ironies of this verse that the situation inherently presents, and also there is no real translation for Aabroo!
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