Monsoons and I have a very strong love-hate relationship. Every city gets laid out in a wet chaos, however, we also create some good old memories as our outlines plans go for a toss.
Calcutta rains are typically preceded by really strong winds. I vividly recollect the chaos at home, everyone running up to the terrace to fetch clothes left out for drying. Sometimes in luck while lamenting on wet clothes otherwise. The northern part of the city has not seen much improvement wrt to infrastructure over the last few decades, potholes and open drains continue to pose major hurdles during monsoons. I almost fell into one a few years back while getting off the overtly crowded bus, on my way home after work. I got off in knee-deep water.
Keeping all the city problems aside, a Bengali on an average consumes about 4-5 cups of Cha (tea), which invariably spikes up to at least 6-8 helping of tea a day during monsoons. I recall Baba sipping on gorom cha (hot tea) the whole day on a weekend with a side of The Statesman. Khichuri (khichdi) is another popular dish which echoes splendidly to a rainy day when paired with Begun Bhaja or Beguni. (Brinjal fritters either with a coat of gram flour or just deep fried). Even after the heavy Khichuri lunch, we would be incessantly be famished for Muri (puffed rice) with Telebhaja (fritters), obviously accompanied with Cha. Mamma used to correctly soak the lentils in time for moong daal pakoda by the time it started raining in the evening. I guess mothers do know it all!
I grew up in Muscat for most of my schooling life and my brother and I would be perpetually sad for not getting any school offs on occasion of a Rainy Day, which were quite prevalent at least for a few days every year in India. Oman is a middle eastern country and back in early 2000s, the rate of precipitation was as less as 2-3 hours in a year. However, when it rained, the entire city would come to a standstill; the news of a couple of not so fatal accidents were definite. The water gushing down the brittle hillocks, the grey clouds dawning upon the city were a sweet sight for sore eyes. Baba used to take us on long drives around the outskirts of the city as we munched on a truck load of Sohar chips and Rani Floats. Muscat was majorly hit by the cyclonic storm-Gonu, a tropical cyclone borne in the Arabian Sea. The cyclone had flooded our carpeted apartment on the 7th floor with water reaching up to our ankles. The city was stagnant for more than a week with no power and limited supplies of food and water. I vividly recall the excitement of the rain mixed with the misery of the situation.
Fast forwarding to Allahabad, I have an abundance of crazy memories from my engineering days. We are a tight bunch of 4 girls; each one of us were of a distinct character but possessed the ditto love for rains. We thoroughly enjoyed the rains if we were ever caught in one, our college campus formed the best backdrop as we posed and clicked embarrassing pictures. We then tucked ourselves under the tiny shade of the sweet shop right outside the campus and gorged on a plate of hot Chole Samosa.
KNGH (our hostel) was situated at the fag end of the staff colony; exquisitely maintained with manicured gardens. The post wash look was alluring, the ochre buildings stood out amongst the deep green. I only detested the numerous chameleons and frogs braving out of their den as we strolled outside. There was a huge courtyard right in the center of our hostel building, needless to say, we flocked there quite often to have our “Ghanan Ghanan” moments. God forbid if anyone got placed during one of rainy days; we never deterred from performing our placement ritual, which was nothing short of pouring at least 50 buckets of cold water on the selected candidate.
A rainy Saturday evening was my favorite. We picked up huge glasses of piping hot tea from the mess and Maphisha’s packets of Kurkure or bread pakoda from the canteen and gathered at Suchi’s squeaky clean room. The search for a chick-flick movie always ended on a Bollywood blockbuster. I took great pleasure at butchering every romantic scene while Shady and Suchi frowned, followed by Maphisha's occasional comment, "Gawar movie".
As I sat next to my balcony now, enjoying the rainy breeze while sipping on my hot mug of tea; Pradeep interrupted my train of thoughts, saying, “Someone is lost and smiling!” The very sound of rain brings back a tremendous amount of memories. I got up to make some moong daal pakoda, and while I am at it, why don’t you tell me your favorite memory of the rain?