Lest my absence from this forum be understood as negligence and apathy, I would hasten to clarify no notion of yours. It is, however imperative, for you to get away from this space as quickly as the swiftest winds can take you. For there could be ramifications beyond your wildest thoughts and above your tallest dreams.
Nothing follows from here so for those who chose to stay back I offer the balm of balmy monsoon that has hit upon the littered shores of Mumbai. The romance of this city, brought out in its entirety in this weather, is commented, frowned, cherished, feared and drenched with at equal abandon. I would not add to the already vivid and rampant imageries that are on display to display and interpret and visualise and depict and painted and written about. I would do nothing that no one does to write about monsoon, will be content with it being merely mentioned in our midst, happy with the mess that it bestows upon the city, sad of the weariness that the mendicants impart to the rain gods, joyous of the end of summers, anxious of the half-year that has already gone past us, resolved of the things I need to do to get this year satisfactorily by, and so on and so forth. You get the drift.
All hail the rain gods. And curse the local city government. The spectacle each year changes only so much as the arrival and the departure of monsoon. Sometimes, it arrives in a flurry, and people scurry to take cover. Often, it showers a signal and men walk to the shade. Many a times, it deceives, and men curse still. Wonders the rain lord, cursing is habitual and I will be whimsical as always because men will not change – with or without monsoon.
Local trains are probably the best windows to witness the downpour. With all of these cats and dogs pinching upon us, the movement of the locomotives make for a wonderful jamboree. Drenched in the rain again, becoming who we are. I know. Don’t, please don’t correct me. Anyways, the trains convert the downpour into a manageable shower, acting as a faucet if you may. Exits are painful though, if it wasn’t raining when you entered. A loud sigh and you are on your way though. It would seem to you that Mumbai loses its steam during the rains, the shoves turn into nudges and the 85 degree rotation of your body turns into a mere 50. But that’s a mirage. Safely out of the cocoons of the open sky, the steam reheats itself into full blown whirlpool. If you are careless, you can be taken for a ride, literally. So keep the non-monsoon stiffness with you. Always pays.
While it pours on one and all, monsoons are possibly the greatest differentiators of the rich and the poor, the ones with gold-festooned artificial ceilings and the ones with the star-studded natural ones. Ironically, just the opposite of what they need perhaps. Bollywood celebrates the rains, even as gutters overflow and men erupt. The BMC stays with its pompous self, grossly over-estimating itself every single time. As CK Prahlad would say, men jostle to reach the tip of this inverted pyramid, literally, running to the top. Because lowlands are flooded, and because they have nowhere to go.
Tis the thinking person’s season I think, as men are found looking out more than they look into their LCD gorilla glass screens. Men are found looking at how drenched others are than how the person on the other side of the phone is. As they dry themselves steady, men are found thinking about the Mother Nature even more so than they do in summer. As they say, there are only two seasons in Mumbai – monsoon and no-monsoon. The seas are at their unruly best and yet impart the most severe serenity.
The season cleans Mumbai. Not of filth, but of people as they run to take cover. During weekends, as they make their way towards the Sahyadris and the Western Ghats. Monsoons impart a night-like zen quality to Mumbai – bereft of its prized and exploited citizens – well to a certain extent that is. The cleanest of airs, even if the moist soil smell is accompanied with the open-faeces-smell and the litter-pile-smell. It’s surprising that windows are closed more often than not in the high rises. Maybe they have become addicted to the artificial smell of the air-conditioner. It’s a malady so I won’t say much on that. It would really be a mean thing to say.
My first Bollywood-rendered image of monsoon is a dark night with a parasol wielding Raj Kapoor wooing Nargis with eternal togetherness. The playful Kishore Kumar’s banter with Madhubala in the ’58 classic Chalti ka naam gaadi comes a close second. More recent renditions are Ayan Mukherjee’s wake up Sid and Aishwarya’s dance infused Taal. Sri Devi and Raveena Tandon’s gyrations also comes to the fore. Romantic and foggy highlands, the staple of our films. Rains have really had a masterful impact on the hindi film industry.
There goes the customary note. A nod to the times we live in, well, short-term.
Oh wait. I checked myself before I could commit the blasphemy. A note on the rains is incomplete without the appreciation of the master. The tuneful music director whose rendition caught us all off-guard and probably many on-guard as well. As I sign off, I end on a high note(?) with –
Dekho baarish ho rahi hai..
It’s raining, its raining,
Mera dil ro raha hai
It’s paining, its paining.
Tere liye, tere liye
Tere liye, tere liye.