overcast skies, clouds flit, a dampness tinges the air. i awoke in the morning to a dreary day. rain falling between heavy and a drizzle. it seemed fairly typical of new jersey. sunny in the morning, snow in the afternoon. warmth yesterday, heavy rain today.
incidental to all this, i reflected about how i’d commented that rain in the US was irritating. wet enough to dampen you, but not heavy enough to warrant a raincoat. i took off to my uncles’, the rain wasn’t so bad.
however, 7 hours later, when i left.. it had built itself up into a fury. quite the torrential rainstorm. i hit route 1, and it decided to peak for the day. or so i thought. ramming down on the windshield, visibility was at low enough that the car ahead was visible with a squint. and then, traffic.
so very much like back home. the rain pouring down, the traffic, horns, the snail pace of the snaking line.. and eventually you realise that you’re not going to move anytime today. an exit was nearby, and was taken,. a phone call later, i was winding my way back towards an alternate route. the spate increased. windshield wipers now on the highest setting, and yet, it never seemed as though the rain was out of your face.
i eventually did get home that night, with the rain pouring down. quite a few roads were falling prey to a growing film of water. the rain continued. listening to the patter, later that night, i was reminded of bombay. every year, the second week of june was a time when the monsoons would signal their onset with a drizzle, and then the 3-day pour. the first smell of the rain-soaked earth had been something unique to me when i first landed there in 1994. needing umbrellas and raincoats was very different from the desert of dubai. it came to be a permanent part of my psyche. the joy of walking in the rain, the fun of football in the downpour, splashing in the mud, getting drenched, loving it all. i’ve missed it for the last 3 years. last july was good, but the lack of rains did tell.
overnight, i was transported back to a time when we had stood under the barest of shelters in bombay, drinking masala chai. umbrellas were for wimps, after all. someone brought pakodas from the next stall, and that was bliss. then of course, a little further back, and the splashing in puddles. even further back, and remembering myself fall and scrape myself in the mud every day for a week. my mom had not been happy.
the monsoons were this unique phenomenon in bombay. you would await them eagerly in the peak of may, and then curse their existence when they would bring the city to a standstill by pouring down. NJ got a taste of that, with flooding in many parts from sunday’s downpour. the fact that the downpour was barely one-tenth of the average in bombay is something for another discussion. people went crazy, roads closed, college closed.. we all sat down and watched a movie.
and for a minute there, it was the chaos of home.