A rain day in Bombay

The view from my apartment on the eighth floor is spectacular. The Arabian Sea stretches out towards the west, its waters rolling over rocks as they run towards the shore. During the monsoons, the water becomes an even darker grey as the rain obscures the horizon while the wind whistles, singing its own loud and sometimes angry tune.

I stand by the window watching the dark clouds with the promise of rain. Looking down, I see two young boys playing on the terrace, chasing each other, throwing and catching a tennis ball. Suddenly it starts raining – hard and fast, even though you can see the sun behind the clouds. What do the children do? Do they stop playing? Do they run towards the porch?

Delightfully, they don’t! They squeal and shout, spread their arms wide and run around! The nanny comes running, getting soaked but fulfilling her responsibility as a caretaker to bring the children in out of the rain. She runs after them, but they only laugh louder and run away from her. She continues to chase them. It’s a futile effort, I want to tell her; let them play, let them enjoy the rains.

I can’t remember the last time I played or walked in the rains. We did that as children; as an adult, our first instinct is to seek shelter; the rain feels cold and unwelcome.

But I do remember a time when getting wet in the first rains of the monsoon was a tradition. And I have special memories too of rainy days  in Bombay – the smell of wet earth (it actually has a name: petrichor!); walking on Marine Drive, getting soaked by the waves as they hit the tetrapods; eating freshly roasted bhutta (corn cobs) rubbed with lemon and the special masala; sitting at home nice and warm, reading a book and eating hot pakoras (fried vegetable dumplings), drowned in green chutney and (Kissan) ketchup, while it rained and thundered outside.

The downside to the monsoon is the flooding and the traffic jams that build up as cars crawl on wet slippery roads. Getting to work is painful, especially when you get soaked or have to avoid getting poked by the sea of umbrellas. This year because I am on my break, I get to avoid all of that and enjoy the rains in the comfort of my home.

It’s finally stopped raining, and the boys are finally ready to go home with their nanny. To a good wipe-down and, I hope, a cup of hot chocolate with hot buttered toast! That’s what I would want!


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