And take time off to revel in the magic of the monsoon…
It has certainly taken its time about it this year, but finally the monsoon is upon us. And not a moment too soon, either, if you ask me. Just when we were about to wilt under the unrelenting heat and melt into a little puddle of humidity, the skies opened up and gave us the magic of the monsoon. The rain came crashing down, washing away the dirt and grime of an Indian summer, and suddenly the world looked green, clean and freshly-laundered, with the smell of petrichor filling the air.
As you can tell (and you certainly can, if you have been regular readers of this column), I love the rains. I love the sight of dark, gathering clouds. I love the fat little droplets of rain that fall on my window. I love the drama of the thunder and the flash of the lightening. I love the romance of walking in the rain, getting soaked to the skin and drenched to the bone.
Which is why I can never understand the monsoon nay-sayers, the ones who moan and groan about the onset of the rains. Yes, I know that traffic can become a mess after a five-minute shower in some parts. I know that if a storm breaks, a power cut can’t be far behind. And that the slightest hint of rain is liable to make Tata Sky (less a DTH service; more a weather app) disappear off your TV sets.
But come on! It’s the monsoon. It’s the season to leave all your inhibitions aside and embrace the promise of the rains. It’s the time to sit on your balcony and watch, hot mug of tea/coffee in your hand, as the showers transform the urban landscape. Or just snuggle up on your couch, with a good book, and read all day long with a thunderstorm providing the perfect background score.
Are you really going to be put off by a few puddles or even massive waterlogging, for that matter? Isn’t a traffic snarl a small price to pay for the privilege of gazing at those darkening skies, until they finally split open and shower their largesse upon us? Does kitchdi ever taste better than when it is accompanied by a light but unrelenting drizzle? And did I mention that the temperature falls by as much as 10 degrees?
Growing up, my idea of heaven was getting a ‘rainy-day’ holiday from school. During the monsoons, I would get up and run to the window to conduct a ‘rain-check’ first thing in the morning. And my joy knew no bounds if the rain was already coming down in its full glory. If it lasted for an hour or longer, the odds of school being called off because of ‘rain disruption’ were very good indeed. And then I could do all the stuff that made monsoons memorable: get down and dirty in the puddles in the garden; plug the drainpipes and create my very own swimming pool on the terrace; gorge on pakoras and other deep-fried delights.
So, my message to all the monsoon kill-joys out there is this: lighten up and embrace the season. It is going to rain – incessantly, if we are lucky; on and off, if we are not – for the next couple of months, whether you like it or not. So, why not try and get into the monsoon spirit this year? In case you’re game, here are just a few pointers to get you started:
• Take a monsoon break. Kerala never looks more beautiful than during the rains. Beach destinations like Goa take on a particular charm at this time of the year. Or you could simply head to the hills for a spot of R&R. Take off for a week or even a weekend to enjoy the stunning beauty of the monsoon in these scenic locations. An added bonus: off-season rates ensure that you spend a fraction of the money you would have during high season.
• Can’t take so much time off? Or simply can’t afford another vacation after the expense of the summer holidays? Never mind. Make the most of what your neighbourhood/city has to offer. Slip into a raincoat and head out for the park, thermos of hot tea tucked away under your arm, to be enjoyed in some verdant spot. Organize a rainy-day barbeque in the backyard and call the neighbours over. Or simply walk along a sodden beachfront and watch the waves roll in, a grey symphony with the overcast skies.
• Getting stuck in traffic snarls is a given. Don’t be caught out. Take along an ipod loaded with the best monsoon songs, which you can sing along to as the rain batters your windshield. Use the time to make a call to a long-neglected friend or family member. Or just chill out and clear your mind of all the clutter it has accumulated during the day. Don’t stress yourself out because of the delay; that won’t make the traffic move any faster.
• Want to feel better about yourself, even if you can’t about the season? Then take this opportunity to set up a water-harvesting unit at home, in your building, your colony or your cooperative society. The water table will thank you, as will future generations. And who knows, you may even finally get the point about the monsoons!