Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bambai ki Baarish

This one is for the rains of Mumbai. The other day I happened to talk to a friend who recently moved to Mumbai. I told her that she has come at the perfect time to Mumbai, since Mumbai rains are nothing short of poetic. She in turn told me that she hated the rains and that she preferred hot weather! But I felt that she was missing out on something in life, by not really savoring the icing on the cake called Mumbai.

For me, the rains are synonymous with cloudy, dark skies, pouring rain, a calm, chilled weather outside, rainwater trickling down the long clear glass window panes, a mug of piping hot coffee in my hand, a good book in the other and perhaps Enigma, Enya or Yanni playing in the background. And then living in a city by the sea, rains mean huge tidal waves that lash against the wavebreakers off Mumbai's sea coast. Rains bring on those huge waves that send in misty sprays all over Marine Drive and Worli Sea Face. A picture of a rainy day would perhaps be incomplete without the swaying coconut trees and mellow, non-bright afternoons.

This does not mean that the rainy season is a period of vacation for everyone in Mumbai. But rains bring out the quick-dry synthetic outfits, the all-season footwear, the psychedelic umbrellas, kids in bright colored rain coats, squeaky clean looking cars (thanks to a free car wash), and everything left looking as fresh and clean as new. The leaves of trees that had been covered in soot all along would suddenly look clean and green! And of course, rains bring out the coal-powered segris and with them, the ever-enjoyable corn, called Bhutta in Mumbai. The corn is roasted on the coal stoves, and then garnished with lemon, salt and chilly powder and a bite of something as delicious with the salty monsoon winds billowing against one's hair is nothing short of beautiful. And topping it off with a sip of 'tapri chaai' or the piping hot roadside tea while standing under the canopy of the chaiwallah's electric blue plastic sheet - ETHEREAL!

Some of my friends complain that I love Mumbai to the extent of almost condoning everything that is not so good about her. And so, in an honest effort to be unbiased, my favorite rains do bring along a flip side. Heavy rains, though lovely, remain so as long as they are being enjoyed in the cosy confines of a house or an office building. The very thought of commuting in such weather is enough to bring out the groan from every Mumbaikar, even the kattarpanthi enthusiasts like me. Water-logging in places is a reality, although I'd like to believe that the volume of water logging has come down in the recent years. Trains get delayed and sometimes, water logged tracks in the heart of the city cripple train transport. Water-logged roads cause vehicular traffic to literally grind to a halt and the already dreadful traffic becomes unbearable. Walking in potholes and puddles is annoying for adults, although these are the highlights for kids!

Now that the 'unbiasing' is out of the way, I'll get back to the beauty of the rains. Imagine sitting inside a car watching the raindrops trickle down beautifully down the windscreen. Or imagine seeing the occasional raindrop clinging on to the tip of a clean, green leaf or the petal of a flower. Or sit by the window and look at the drenched crow trying to shake itself dry! And while seeing all this, just smell the scent of mud freshly soaked in rainwater. And then decide whether rains aren't a thing of beauty to be enjoyed and savored as much as you can!

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