By Zai Whitaker
Author-environmentalist Zai Whitaker shares some of her favourite monsoon memories and reminds us just what makes this season so magical.
Let’s face it, the monsoon sky is one of the most dramatic sights in the world. The special effects are far beyond what Star Wars or Harry Potter can offer. The colours are riotous, the sound range incredible… Have you ever smelt the rain coming? Can any perfume brand ever hope to duplicate that fragrance? Ever felt the touch of the monsoon on your face, hands, feet? Of course, you have!
What are your favourite monsoon memories? If you think hard enough, you’ll probably realize what exciting moments the monsoon has added to your life. I have three major monsoon memories to share.
The first is of a disastrous family picnic in Karnala, in the Western Ghats. I must have been, say, seven or eight – an age when food is extremely important, both as fuel and as a hobby/pastime. Well, my dad parked the car just as it began to drizzle. But it was a small spatter, those little disconnected drops that you KNOW will stop happening.
“But just in case it gets heavy,” said Dad, “we’ll leave the food in the car and have it after our walk.”
This idea I didn’t like at all. But as we know, an eight-year-old is helpless against the laws of…uh… grown-ups. We began our walk up a steep hill and, after getting to the top, sat down to enjoy the view. It must have been beautiful; the Western Ghats in the monsoon are like a green fairyland. But the only view I could think of was one of sandwiches and boiled eggs. And then, the spatter turned to a sudden and unrelenting curtain of water. Our dainty little nylon umbrellas were no match for this thunderous waterfall, and we were absolutely drenched within seconds. We decided to make a dash for the car, and slipping, sliding, skidding, and shrieking, got to the old Ambassador. My father put his hand in his pocket to get the key… and his face told us the whole story. Instead of the key, there was a hole in his pocket! My own memory stops right there – but my mother tells me that, seeing our horrified faces, he set off at once, back the slippery and muddy trail and actually found the keys!
My second favourite memory is of our back verandah in Bombay one rainy afternoon. We had guests who were, as usual, eating up all our favourite snacks. We were snug and dry in my mother’s study, which adjoined the verandah and was separated from it by a glass door. Suddenly, one of the guests, a little girl, escaped from her
mother’s clutches, opened the door and ran out in the rain. She immediately slipped on the messy floor, and skidded a good four or five feet on her bum. Loud shrieks drowned the sound of the rain. Her mother, after a brief moment of paralysis, ran out to rescue her and suffered the same fate. She began shrieking in a slightly higher pitch as she had sprained her ankle. Then my mother, being a good hostess, ran out to rescue the two of them, and well, guess what…
And the last memory is from last year when I came back from a holiday and began making the usual monsoon preparations at home. Windows had to be repaired, clothes moved out of cupboards which get damp, plastic sheets put over the garage roof. And much more, because in an open house like ours with its thousands of windows and doors, the monsoon demands lots of preparation. Even after all this, you end up putting pots and pans all over the place and the house wears the look of a kind of museum of cookware. And you realize how many different tones, pitches and tunes water can sing as it drips into pressure cookers, serving dishes and buckets.
Having done all this, I sat back and waited for the monsoon.
And it never came!
So that’s another wonderful quality the monsoon has: a sense of humour.