(Not all post titles can be clever, okay?)
It’s starting to rain here in Bangalore. Light to moderate showers in the past few days have brought some much-needed relief from the heat (and power cuts along with it, but we’ll focus on the good here), and I can already feel my mood lightening. I’m no stranger to rain. In fact, I’m not used to going this long without rain, or to the showers being as light as they have been so far. All through my life, bar a few years here and there, I’ve lived in cities where the rains have had character and been associated with specific feelings and emotions.
My early memories of rain are of the showers in Bombay. For a few years, I remember it starting to rain exactly on June 1st, as though the monsoons were following some sort of strict timetable. School also usually began on June 1st, which meant that for a long time, the back-to-school excitement of buying stationery, wrapping books in brown paper and tailoring new uniforms was associated with the smell of impending rain in the air. Of course, as lovely as those first showers felt – they were cleansing, in a way, both to the environment and to the mind – it was never as romantic actually being in them. There would be puddles, there would be sludge and slush on the roads. Umbrellas would be rendered pretty much useless because of the strong winds. Even though we were allowed to wear ‘rainy chappals’ to school (plastic sandals or shoes that could dry quickly after we trudged through ankle-deep water stagnating on the school grounds), it wasn’t fun squelching around and leaving wet prints everywhere. It would take time getting anywhere because the roads and the traffic would be worse than usual. At home, we couldn’t go out to play as much in the evenings, and after a while, the perpetual dampness would start to get annoying. Still, the rains were an essential part of Bombay life, even if they only lasted a few months. The city just wouldn’t have been the same without them.
When I moved to Singapore, I was expecting heat (what with it being so close to the equator), but not rain. In fact, I got plenty of both. Singapore is one of those “carry your umbrella all year long” kind of cities. It’s also the kind of city where a bright, sunny, clear-sky morning can turn into an overcast afternoon in a matter of hours, where it’s possible to need to switch on your lights at noon because it’s become so dark inside. Singapore, of course, was much more manageable in the rain – barely any sludge, good drainage system – but it was still nicer to be indoors when it started to pour. Sometimes it would rain so hard, you wouldn’t be able to see anything beyond 10 feet, let alone the horizon. Some of my favourite memories of the rain involve sitting in the living room of my 19th-floor house, drinking tea and doing my paint-by-numbers as the cool breeze blew in through the balcony and rattled all the windows.
Unfortunately, my offices have all been in windowless spaces, so unless it rained to or from work or when I was home, I would often miss out on the showers, only realising when I stepped out that it had actually poured that day. Sometimes, of course, it would rain so heavily we would hear the thunder indoors, and even that simple sound, minus any visuals, could put me in a more relaxed mood than I was before. There was a brief period of time when I was working from home when I got to both see the rain through my windows and hear the pitter-patter of rain form a sort of white-noise background to my work (even through my headphones), and it was positively heavenly.
I’m back to working in an indoor, windowless office now, and I don’t live on the 19th floor anymore, but I’m hopeful that I will still get to experience the romance of a lazy, rainy day here in Bangalore, complete with hot tea, pakodas and a good book. Come on, Bangalore, don’t let me down.