“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
There is Monsoon at the gates.
Whilst preparing for my arrival in India I was warned that this is the season of rain, humidity and clogged roads – the time of the dreaded monsoon, when country changes into one big puddle of brown liquid, which is neither chai nor coffee, but can taste as bitter as both. I did not know what to make of these warnings. Monsoons after all, come in different forms, in some places having a monsoon can mean that it will rain cats and dogs for days at a time and in other it’s a refreshing one hour drizzle just after the lunch. So, what was waiting for me in India?
I prepared and packed my poncho/rain coat which I use during the rainy days while driving a bicycle in Slovenia, as taking an umbrella seemed to be underestimating the warnings I was given beforehand. Next thing I remember was my arrival to the airport in Delhi, stepping out of the airplane and not being hit in the face by the heat. It was rather cool, being 4am and there was no sign of humidity. Apparently, the monsoon is your friend in Delhi. Reality hit me hard two hours later, when I finally stepped out of the airport and the sun was already up… It was hot! It was humid!
However, it was not raining…
In the following weeks, monsoon showed it’s rainy face only a couple of times, but there was no big splash, no sign of dreaded clogged streets, no run for your life hailstorm… I got to use my rain poncho only once! During my morning newspaper/coffee affairs I also read that this summer rain was sparse and that some regions of India are faced with a farming catastrophe, due to the shortage of water. So what was going on? Where is the rain I was preparing for?
Don’t get me wrong, there were some rainy days, a couple of hours of rain here and there, but nothing dramatic. But these rare occasions and momentary glimpses of things to come made me realize that whenever it starts to rain, everything becomes a bit crazier in India. First of all, people would immediately come out of their houses. A girl staring at the rainy sky on the rooftop in Tigri, guys taking a nature shower in Mandapur Khadar and scaring poor Parul and little kids dancing and splashing in the pool of water on the street are still stuck in my memory (as I guess those naked guys are stuck in Parul’s…). What joy can some raindrops bring! But on the other side, the already crazy traffic turned into carmaggedon, cacophony of honking, splashing, yelling and cursing and streets became rivers. Taking an auto during the rain can quickly turn into a boat ride!
But what would happen, if the rain continued for longer than a few hours and turned into a daily affair? At the end of August, I found out, as it rained continuously for almost a week. Kids were kids, you could still find them jumping in every pool of water where and whenever chance presented itself. But I couldn’t find the girl on the rooftop anymore and I guess those guys were clean enough by now. Welcoming and refreshing drizzle which made everyone run out on the streets turned into a continuous wet white noise, which makes you just shut your door and snuggle inside your bed, watch movies and listen to the raindrops on your windows…
Ok, it makes me do that and I am not really sure what other people were doing, but the fact remains, that there were less people outside and no amazed faces turned at the sky looking for refreshment. However, the city did not become empty and observing the life outside made me realize something else. Some of those who walked the streets did so with pride, not hurrying and making a spectacle of themselves. This is something you rarely see in Europe as we have apparently long ago lost the Art of walking in the rain. I believe that here in India, some people still master this old and wise practice.
Back home I always see panic in people’s eyes when it starts to rain; “Oh my, I’m going to get wet.” We humans can not really master the rain as we did with most of nature. Rain is a different story. We can not really control it, heck sometimes, we can not even really forecast it and as with most things, where we fell out of our system and lose against mother Nature, we try to compensate our deficits with technology, preferably huge, grand scale objects of defiance, in this case umbrellas. So it’s not unusual to see umbrellas that could cover an elephant being carried by a single person. And of course you don’t let anyone stand with you underneath it, you could get wet!
I can see the same “dry” logic here in India, but more often than not, I’ve noticed people here walking calmly in the rain without an umbrella, accepting the rain and the fact that they are wet. After all, it’s not the end of the world, when you get home you can change your clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imagine these wet wanderers wanted to be wet, but they were accepting it and were practicing the ancient Art of walking in the rain. I guess this Art is also slowly disappearing from India, as the globalized modern times bring with them smartphones, which can not get wet, huge umbrellas and the importance of staying dry all the time. But walking in the rain in Delhi made me remember the ancient thruth; rain doesn’t make a mess, we people make a mess out of rain.
So, my fellow New Delhians, what do you do when it rains? You practice the Art of walking in the rain, walk around with your elephant umbrella, jump around like a kid or just snuggle in your bed and listen to the raindrops on your window? Please write in the comments bellow.