Wet Saree

The anxious ones desperately checked if the clouds were cumulus or nimbus and if they can become giant cumulonimbus clouds that bring wonderful thunderstorms
Rupa Gulab Mumbai

I accompanied my best friend to a physiotherapist a few weeks ago - she'd been complaining of a crick in the neck ever since TV announcers broke the most thrilling news the nation has heard since Kasab was awarded the death sentence: the monsoon had hit Kerala. We shuffled in to discover that the clinic was packed to capacity - roughly 99 per cent of the patients had a similar cervical problem. Easily understandable, considering that practically everyone in the city had been staring longingly at the skies, hoping to be rewarded by the sight of dark looming clouds. The more anxious ones, like my best friend, eagerly consulted the Internet to find out whether the clouds over Mumbai were cumulus or nimbus and if they had the potential to develop into giant cumulonimbus clouds that bring wonderful thunderstorms.

Finally, on June 12 the met department dryly informed us that the monsoon had officially arrived - without steamy Shakira doing a Waka Waka! Considering the eager anticipation that precedes the seasonal rains, I firmly believe that there should be a bit of a show put up with cheer leaders and other exciting features. Not skimpily clad East Europeans (fortunately, the BCCI doesn't control the rains - not yet, at any rate, but perhaps they'll get there), but Indians doing the Bollywood wet saree dance! I'm sure all of us (with the exception of the upright and uptight RR Patil, Maharashtra's home minister) would enjoy that. Throw in a medley of soppy rain songs, vendors selling roasted corn on the cob and steaming hot beverages, and the money raised may well eradicate poverty in the nation - and Africa as well! 

As I type this, the temperature is dipping and the heady scent of fresh earth is rising - if this fragrance could be bottled and stored, I'm fairly certain that Indian women wouldn't squander precious foreign exchange at duty-free French perfume stores that do brisk business at airports around the world. Travel agents are busy, busy, busy booking and organising trips to the neighbouring mist-clad hill stations of Lonavala, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani - ideal for extreme trekking and romantic walks in the rain. 

Fortunate people with sea-facing apartments are sipping tea and enjoying the dramatic sight of dark thunder clouds racing towards them, while frisky waves rise like playful dolphins. Internet junkies are cheerfully tweeting about the rains or sending warning e-mails with dates and times of high-tides. Tansa, Vihar, Upper Vaitarna, Bhatsa, Tulsi and Modak Sagar, the lakes that provide water to our overhead tanks are filling, while we heave sighs  of relief. 

And, of course, news channels are determinedly handing out straws to its reporters - the losers who pick the shortest straws will be sent to cover low-lying areas of the city - not a very nice assignment, I can assure you, even if they give you stylish Louis Vuitton umbrellas and sexy Jimmy Choo gum-boots free.Of course, the euphoria will only last for a few weeks. The fresh earth aroma will be replaced by wet dog smell - damp carpets are like proverbial wet blankets! Kitchen knives will be used to scrape inedible mushrooms growing on bedroom walls. Streets will turn into muddy, bacteria-infested seas, mosquitoes will breed, dilapidated houses will fall, overworked doctors will need to see other overworked doctors for stress ailments. 

And through all this, the Bombay Municipal Corporation will continue to assure us that they care for humble citizens dearly - much, much more than they care for builders, cricketers and Bollywood stars. Even so, rest assured, next year we will eagerly welcome the monsoon again.  Mumbaikars are suckers for rain!

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JULY 2010

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