Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's the monsoon once more

The northeast monsoon seems to have finally set in. It’s been cloudy in Chennai the past day or so, with the occasional drizzle. It’s all right as long as there are scattered showers and the occasional drizzle, but everybody here must be dreading the cyclone that is bound to arrive. By the end of December, you can be sure that the city would have been devastated (yes, that’s the word) by one or two cyclones from the Bay of Bengal.

When I was a child in Calcutta, there was a sort of romance then with the monsoon rain. I used look out from different windows in the house to watch the crows and pigeons getting wet, some of them cuddled up on a parapet with their beaks tucked in. There would be eagles soaking in the rain, perched atop chimneys or other high points on buildings. And then there were hundreds of sparrows, too. Where do you find them these days? Chennai has lost all its sparrows - I don't remember seeing many ever since I came to the city in the early 1980s.

Yes, back in Calcutta, there would be the odd flooding on the roads. I still remember wading home from school through streets full of water, shoes in hand sometimes, and schoolbag safe on my shoulders. It was all fun, part of the carefree world of childhood when even nature seemed one with you. Nowadays, I am terrified whenever there is mention of a depression forming in the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon and the rains somehow do not hold that old charm anymore. All I can think of is the muck on the roads that you are forced to step on, the craters on the roads that erupt each monsoon and remain for weeks after, and floodwaters entering the house where I stay, like it did last year.

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