Thursday, July 12, 2007

saawan ko aane do...

In the middle of the much-awaited monsoon, parts of the country are wishing the rain clouds away, while in other parts, hopeful eyes gaze at the blue skies. There's something about the weather that always makes it a hot topic for conversation, whether you meet someone for the first time, renew contact with a long-lost friend, greet your spouse in the morning, or chat up a prospective partner. The weather is in nobody's control, yet everyone has an opinion on it. And the wisdom of the ages sprouts anew in the human mind, when the year's first rain showers the earth.

From the met department to the predictor family of astro, numero, and tarot, everyone is into second-guessing what the clouds have in mind. And once the monsoon's gameplan is clear, news channels move in for the kill. You can sense the announcer's exultation when the reporter hits paydirt--flooding in Milan Subway. The excitement is palpable, when citizens of this wet, wet city badmouth the BMC on camera. Channels feel they've earned their ad revenue the day the tracks get flooded, trains stop, commuters are stranded, and the country can see this live 24x7. As long as the monsoon arrives, and as long as this country has politicians, the news channels are assured of breaking news for at least three months of the year.

Despite the saas-bahu melodrama that the monsoon has been reduced to, there's still some untouched beauty left there. The fury, the unpredictability, and the sheer joy that rain falling on earth evokes is almost indescribable.

In Delhi, like everything else, the rain arrives with a lot of shosha. Dusty winds churn dead leaves and roadside garbage, the sky is thunderously angry and lightning flashes threateningly, until the rain begins, cooling tempers and bringing relief from the never-ending heat. In Mumbai, the rain arrives with the matter-of-factness of a crowded local train. Dark, heavy clouds move in from the horizon, gather mass, and empty their load. If you aren't smart enough to jump for cover in time, you're drenched, and before you know it, the sun is out. I had a ringside view of this at Marine Drive. Two women, deep in conversation, didn't bother to move, because they knew the futility of it. College kids took the opportunity of getting a good drench. Lovey-dovey twosomes... well, they continued with what they usually do at Marine Drive. Everyone grinned at each other, deriving pleasure from predicament. The tea-coffee and bhutta vendors peddled their wares with more confidence.

Of course, if you watch the news carefully, these images will flash too, along with the ones that satiate the morbid appetites of the nation. Like everything else in life, the monsoon too has two sides.