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Monsoon Memories

“The first sounds I ever heard were that of the falling rain.”
Thus  begins Alexander  Frater’s memorable paen to the rains in India, “Chasing the Monsoon.”  A  delightful book that traces the path of the monsoons in India as it first crash lands in the southern tip of Kerala, and then slowly makes its way up through the Indian sub-continent. Frater travels along with the rains, proceeding  through the verdant Konkan coast, making his way into the dry, arid  hinterland of Western and Northern India  before ending his journey in the wettest place on the planet, Chirrapunji, in Meghalaya.A great read any time of the year, And particularly worth a re-read  during the monsoon season !

Most of us  too, I guess, cherish our earliest memories  of  the pitter patter of the falling rain. For, the monsoons are such an integral part of our lives that  the rhythms of  the rain have become an element of our life and existence. Something that is almost embedded into our genetic code and  transmitted through the generations. The rains arouse deep primordial instincts and awaken our senses as the monsoon  plays  its  coy, dating game with us every June. After  the baking and oppressive heat of  summer, we eagerly await its arrival. Soon, the earth is drenched by  the cascading rains, and the parched  soil once again turns  dark  green with dense grass and freshly sprouting shoots.  Even as  the sky is streaked with dangerous flashes of lightning, and the majestic rumbling of thunder  fills our hearts with fear and apprehension,   we are comforted by the  familiar croaking of  bull frogs mating under dripping eaves.  The air is suffused  with the promise of new life. And the occasional year, when the monsoon is delayed, or God forbid,  even delinquent, there is utter panic and despair as  our lives are thrown hopelessly out of gear.

Truly, the  monsoon is inseparable from India and her moods, her arts and her culture. Indians believe the monsoon to be a powerful force that is a gift from the Gods. It is central to our life; it is central to our commerce; it is central to our very being. And most importantly, it has become an inalienable part of our cultural lives. This season of thunder and lightning, swollen rivers, emerald green fields and dark, ominous  clouds  is integral  to our social and cultural ethos. It is a time when  peacocks dance amorously, lovers meet in secret trysts and the senses are over powered by the intoxicating smells of wet, damp earth. It is a unique season; one that creates life, and resuscitates life.

And In Kerala, it  is also a  season for  the traditional rejuvenation of the body. It is a time when  the circadian rhythms of life are suspended and  the pace of life slows down, as the mind and the body are subjected to the centuries old traditions of ayurveda. It is  the  time to revitalize our bodies through oil massages and rest;  a time for  drinking karkidaka kanji and  having thaalu curry. A month  for re-reading the wisdom contained in the pages of the Ramayanam. A time of introspection and contemplation when we renew our bond with nature, as our forebears have done through the ages.

The rainy mornings, the sound of rain right outside the window,the colourful umbrellas and raincoats, the splashing sound that shoes make when children jump on puddles, vehicles that splash water on pedestrians and light vehicles, parents carrying children on their shoulders so that the uniform does not get spoilt, the hot teas and idli’s, the varieties of ‘kanji’, the greenery all around, water everywhere. All these are memories that every mallu man and woman will share wherever they are in the world.

Kerala’s beloved “poet of beauty” the late Vyloppili Sreedhara Menon, wrote in his pastoral idyll,   Varshagamam,

“Like a cooling unguent caressing  the eyes,
Like a melodious symphony soothing  the ears,
Like a fragrant balm nourishing  the body
Comes along a new season of rain………..”

Bellissimo……

It’s time to  celebrate yet another monsoon season.


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Author:

There is a deep and cosmological connection between my birth, my parent's decision to name me what they did, my profession and my education. This brings me to the conclusion that fate is predetermined and like in Hindu mythology, is written by Brahma when someone is born. Example: My name is unique. I did my grads in Psychology. I then did my masters in HR (offshoot of following all the psychos). I then did the ultimate decision of joining an MNC in ............. beat it, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. So, I have the concept 'MAD' in my name, my education, my choice of career and all the milestone decisions of my life. Now, is it predetermined or what ? :-D

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