Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bangalore Diaries - The premonsoon frenzy

When you come back home after a week long holiday, all you want is your own little pillow, a good book, a cup of chai in your hands and some blissful sleep. But the skies in Bangalore are determined to keep me awake all night long. The skies open up, there is thunder everywhere, flashes of lightning and the rains tumble down, their decibel levels shutting out all other sounds for the night.

I lie in bed listening to the rain, a constant companion in the dark, drumming its way on the balcony, shaking the plants out of their reverie . In the morning when I wake up, the sky is still wrapped in the shades of night. The downpour is a drizzle, but the clouds look smug as if they are hiding in their layers, an entire thunderstorm, which they will let loose when it pleases them.  The bamboo plants are all dancing, showing off their new coat of green. The asian koel has not stopped calling . And even the usual morose rock pigeons are showing some signs of emotions. I hear a medley of various sounds, all from the comfort of my bed.

A new month, a new season begins. Growing up in Madras, monsoons to me have always been cyclonic in nature. The trees dance to the cosmic drama and the rains rip through the city, leaving their mark everywhere. The seas snarl, the clouds threaten the earth - nature seems to be fighting its own private battle.

But to me, as a child, cyclones were all about rain holidays. As soon as the water flooded the roads, I used to look eagerly from my window and see if  a board announcing a holiday was put up outside my school located next door. It was only during the monsoons that I felt important . The phone calls would never end . Everybody called me to ask if it was a holiday and I used to feel smug, even proud that I had a wee bit of information that no one else in my class had and I was the first to pass them around. Cyclones were also about endless power cuts, water flooding inside the house, colds and coughs, but then to us kids, it was about watching a paper boat float or get crushed by the coconut tree drowned in a puddle of water.

I went to Mumbai to study and monsoons took a whole new meaning. The drive from Marine Drive to Worli Sea Face to Bandra in the night,  just to see the sea getting wild, throwing its waves up on the rocks, spraying us with its white foam on the first day of the rains is a memory that I hold close to me. The rest of the memories are all about offices and roads getting flooded in the monsoons as we hurry home and watch the fury from the windows.

In Bangalore, however the rains are more romantic. The drama starts sometimes in my own room . Its mid afternoon and the walls suddenly darken. The light fades away and shadows of the plants dancing to the tune of the winds indicates a change in the mood of nature. The balconies and the windows open up and the premonsoon jugalbandi between the winds, the clouds, the rains begin. Thunder and lightning joins in , raising the tempo as hails take over sometimes from the rains. It's a theatrical performance, a musical that steals your blues away and a dance that keeps you on your toes.

I love the pre-monsoons to the monsoons. Its unpredictable, uncontrollable and the energy rubs on to you. Sometimes there is no foreplay. The frenzied passion from the skies just flows and it just bursts out on to the earth. It ends as abruptly as it begins, but it leaves you with a sense of anticipation . The monsoons on the other hand are more staid, predictable and constant and lacks the drama of the premonsoon and hence, I just wait for it to finish its routine and leave.

Rains in the plains, cities, seas, forests and hills are all different experiences. A month ago, I was in kashmir, taking in the onslaught of the rains as they drenched me even as the gentle snow fell into my hands at Gulmarg. Sitting on a pony and climbing a slushy alpine forest in Yousmarg, the rains were far more gentle here as my pony stopped by at a little stream to quench its thirst, even as it nodded in approval to the drizzle. Soaking in the moment, my mind wandered to various destinations where rains have brought in various connotations to emotions - from love to anger.

The breeze visits me as I finish writing this. The birds and the squirrels are all enjoying this morning after. A light drizzle still continues. The traffic on the road steadily increases. I need another cup of tea now. The pre monsoons will soon give away to the monsoons and the drama will end.