After days of stifling heat and humidity, the deluge has begun.
Complete with darkling skies, thunder, sheets of rain and that strange grey light that accompanies Indian monsoons. And only yesterday, I was trying to explain to a colleague the beauty, the absolute wonder, of the monsoon. Thank you, universe, for listening.
My flat is not made for rain-spotting. No grilled balconies where the spray comes glancing in, which is half the fun. But through the time I was growing up, I had a balcony to sit in. Cosily wrapped in a ragged "kantha", sitting in an "easy chair", with a mug of steaming tea and a couple of books balanced on the arms, I could watch the heavens burst open. A book would lie open (and forgotten) on my lap, and my senses would swell with the smell of wet red earth, as I watched the rain streak in dirty lines down the sides of once-white houses. Little puddles would form in the "maat" in front of our house, and swell to rivulets that would wind their way through the mud. Occasionally, a hapless cyclist, desperately trying to shield himself with the aid of a garish green plastic sheet, would go by, leaving deep squelchy ruts in his wake, and the rivulets would wind through these. Shivering crows would take shelter in the eaves of the balcony, or in trees.
And the sound! Everything else was drowned out by the companionable pattering of rain interspersed with bouts of rrrrrolling thunder and cracks of lightning. And you could just sit there and watch... and watch... and watch... and let your thoughts drift and your train of thought run away into far-away lands.
As a seasoned rain-spotter (no, I'm not sorry!), I knew when the rain was going to begin, and when it was going to end. And once the clouds had spent their fury, and the rain slowed down to a the occasional big fat drop, all the neighbourhood dogs - and the kids - would come out, to jump around in the mud and run around screaming, exulting. The air would have cooled, the skies grown a little lighter, and there would still be the occasional rumble of thunder, like the muted sound of someone's indigestion, promising more rain to come.
Not strange at all, I suppose, that of the thousands of songs that I learnt through years of singing classes in school, the one that sticks in my brain the most has a line that goes, "it's kind of nice when rain falls."
I wrote that last bit while I was still safely ensconced inside office.
Then I stepped outside. Traffic lined up for miles. My usual roads home awash with water, the rain pounding down so hard that even at the fastest wiper speed I could barely see. Driving through ocean-sized puddles that my temporarily-opaque windscreen had rendered invisible, making sheets of water rise from the wheels like the parting of the Red Sea. Crawling through foot-deep puddles and patting the wheel of the car reassuringly, murmuring, "Come on, Bootle, don't let me down now," looking at all the cars that had got stuck and praying it wouldn't happen to me. The world outside looked like this:
But I got home, finally, and opened my door to the rain, and stood in the doorway for a while, cradling a mug of hot tea in my hands and watching the rain, and all was right with the world again.