There it comes again!!!!

Today morning, around 5 am, I woke up to the sweet resonance of water hitting the earth from the heights above. Since the previous night was quite hot and humid, it took me some time to realise that monsoon has once again arrived at God’s own country.

It was an awesome feeling. The feel of God’s greatest gift to earth – the rain – its aroma, the romantic feel attached to it, and of course the possibility of getting a chance once again to be drenched in the precipitation of the cloudburst. All these took me back to my memories of monsoon from my childhood days, adolescence and till now.

My childhood is filled with wonderful reminiscences of a Kerala that had not yet jumped into what is now an urban agglomeration. The nearest neighbour was a bit far off, and the colossal greenery in between gave ample space to enjoy and relish the rains. The vegetation that gets greener with every passing day during the monsoon period, and the rustic smell of rain when it crystallizes into the soil gave a feeling that was out of the ordinary to those days.

Image © Nidheesh Narayanan

The 90’s saw a different attitude to rains. Being an NRI kid growing up in a place with almost negligible precipitation, my association with monsoon was reduced to the two months I get to spend back at Kerala during the summer vacations every alternate year. It was something that was not quite enjoyable, as in those days, the airports were not equipped to a certain extent to handle landings in the rain Most of the time, the start to the vacation was interrupted by flight diversions to other airports where there was less rain, and landing back when the sky clears here. Once home was reached, it used to be a torrid run of the mill holiday where there was very little time to enjoy the rains, as more time would be spent ticking off the list of places and people to visit in that short span of time.

The year 2000 saw me back in Kerala once again, for a longer stay. I had completed my schooling and had come down to join college. Once again I landed on a day when the monsoon was in its full fury. A late flight by 8 hours had almost killed my appetite for an enjoyable stay, but once back in the comfort of home and in no hurry to rush anywhere, I was just beginning to start to enjoy the best of the monsoons.

Then it was the college days.

Like all, I too bought an umbrella, and merrily took it to college on a rainy day. Once I reached there, it did not take long for me to realise that the umbrella was just an excess baggage, and it was not an accessory that the average malayalee college going boy had with him. A bit of basic research and I understood that there were enough space in the umbrellas of girls at college to accommodate a guy. Soon, I too jumped onto the bandwagon, and every day from the bus stop to college, I started supporting myself with any of the vacant slots under an umbrella.

It was really fun – those three years.

In 2002-03, I had the privilege to enjoy the biggest rainfall that had happened in Kerala in almost ninety years. Those three days of rain really taught me to respect the power of God. It was nature at its best – the thunder, lightning and incessant downpour. The non availability of newspaper, radio and electricity, and the cable outage for those three days gave an antique feel to life – a gentle aide memoire of how existence would have been in good old days. The waters took some time to recede, and in fact, boats were on the roads at some places instead of buses.

My days in Coimbatore had one little incident which amplified my love for the rain. I had set off on a bike ride to Palakkad from my college with a friend to invite a dignitary for a college function. Being on the wrong side of the Western Ghats, we never realised that it was the onset of Monsoon in Kerala and we were least prepared. Once we crossed Walayar, the downpour was so colossal that it took us almost 3 hours to complete the 40 kilometre drive, one side. We were entirely drenched, and although each drop of the rain, when it hit our face was like the pinch of a needle, we never bothered to stop a moment and seek a shelter, as it was a moment filled with thankfulness. We had the dispensation of enjoying God’s gift first hand, and it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Once back in Kerala after a small hiatus, I started to enjoy those bike rides with the rain coat on. Those were small trips, from home to office and back, but were good enough to refresh the mind and soul. This went on till I graduated to driving a car – which gave me another perspective to enjoy the rains. The long drives on highway, up the high ranges of Wayanad and Idukki, on the coastal roads of North Malabar, all these are experiences of a lifetime I have gathered, which if missed can never be compensated.

Image © Nidheesh Narayanan
Image © Nidheesh Narayanan

All said and done, the monsoons over the years have changed a lot in terms of the hitches it has started giving to all of us. It seems to be nature’s way of getting back at us for breaking a lot of rules. Increased density of human settlement and lack of space everywhere has started creating a lot of roadblocks in the free flow of rain water, in turn creating unimaginable levels of inconvenience for all of us. And the roads, never has it been like this before. In these recent years, entire stretches of highways need to be re-laid as a consequence of rain beating down on tar. One quote of consequence worth remembering here is that “For the best off-road experience of your SUV, drive on the highways of Kerala”. Well, I do enjoy a lot driving my Scorpio on these roads after the monsoon season ends, as nowhere else in the world can replicate this terrain that we get on the highway here.

Image © Nidheesh Narayanan
As onlookers, we cannot do nothing much about it. As Denzel Washington quoted – “You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it”
Like every new year, when we take a resolution on what we plan to do or not to do that year, I have planned few things to make this year’s monsoon memorable as ever. A few barmy thoughts… like going for morning walk when it rains listening to those special rain songs on my iPod… sitting by Payyambalam beach and watching the rain drops melt into the sea… play beach football when the downpour is at its heaviest… these are all diminutive ideas, whose thoughts even bring a whiff of fresh air into our psyche.“Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.”

Monsoons are what has really made Kerala God’s own country. Thank you God… for this wonderful gift!!!

Image © Nidheesh Narayanan