Come monsoon – every year while city dwellers wait in rapt impatience for the rains to dissipate the summer heat and farmers wait in fertile lands for a richer crop – I alone, wait in silent prayer for autumn’s dryness to disperse monsoon’s dampness.
Against popular opinion – I hate the rains. I know everyone else has a different perception about the rainy season; one that is equated to the romanticized beauty of monsoon: lush greenery, stormy skies, occasional cloud bursts, precipitated mists, blowing winds etc. But the monsoon I see is a far cry from any of that.
The way I see it, essentially monsoons are a hostile time. It’s not just the chilliness and the darkness that engulfs the atmosphere, but because it feels like all the chaos of the whole year unleashes itself into a single season. As if you accidentally set your TV channel to bad news and there’s no way of switching it to something else.
It’s when you hear the most about road accidents; headlines of cities drowning in floods, constructions collapsing, homes destroyed, landslides, the homeless scuttling for shelter, more cases of pneumonia and leptospirosis, motorbikes skidding, higher instances of road rage, overflowing gutters, early sunsets, darker skies, mucky shoes, wet damp clothes…
Monsoons are when I’m the most cynical. And, I think it is perhaps because the rains have this cleansing effect that washes away all the layers of paint that the world otherwise uses to cover up its cracks in dryer months, and exposes me to the bare, raw, unfiltered, ugly side of life. Like having to see all the potholes that truly lie ahead.
But sometimes, just sometimes – ironically – it is only in this very state of bareness, where the world is left in its rawest, unembellished form that you get to see the real unseen beauty of monsoon. Wafting from deep within those very cracks emanates an inexplicable sense of warmth as little glimmers of humanity start to emerge.
Little things, little acts of kindness, small displays of love that I wouldn’t get to see in any other season.
Things I only get to see in the monsoon.
Old people holding hands while walking in the rains, little kids in rainboots sharing umbrellas, strangers sharing a common shelter during an unexpected downpour, catching the golden shards of raindrops from the glow of a street lamp, staying in on Friday nights with your folks rather than driving out in rain soaked traffic to meet your friends, offering your house help your sturdy umbrella; switching her cold beverage for a hot one, reading more on a rainy day, drinking more hot chocolate, learning more…
Small small nuances that perhaps don’t even matter in the larger scheme of life, but still inevitably illuminate us in darker and gloomier times.
And I’m not saying that any of this makes me like monsoon any more than I already don’t – but still every year when the rains inevitably arrive, they remind me that warmth can be found even in hostility and beauty can be seen even in ugliness. Like the literal silver lining at the edge of a grey cloud.
All you have to do is look.
I wrote bits and pieces of this blog post around August last year, but due to a sad spell of writer’s block – I could never really piece it together. I’m not sure if this post is relevant today given the pandemic that has engulfed the planet – but I felt really comforted writing it. I hope you derived a little comfort reading it 🙂
If any of you guys ever want to stay in my beautiful city during the monsoon (or any other season) – and don’t prefer hotels – here is a list of the 12 best Airbnbs in Mumbai. Come visit, and maybe drop in to say hi!