As I wilted under the intense heat of May, I dreamt of the monsoon season for relief. As I mopped the sweat from my brow in a manner of speaking, I visualised grey skies and the welcome coolness brought by rain. The month seemed never-ending and I eagerly scoured the newspapers for forecasts of rain. The Met department predicted a good monsoon and as the monsoon slowly advanced from the southernmost tip of India, I waited for the skies to open up and the cascade of rain.
By the second week of June, the deluge began. It was such a relief to switch off air-conditioners and not have to worry about astronomical utility bills. The accompanying lightning and thunder were marvelled at and just watching the rain was pleasurable. What was even more wonderful was the fact that it usually poured late in the afternoon or at night so one could go about one’s work in the morning and accomplish tasks such as bank work or shopping for necessities. Notes were exchanged among family members and friends on the amount of rain that fell in the area where you lived, laced with a fair bit of gloating if you were favoured with more of Nature’s bounty.
Newspapers went to town with forecasts of a good monsoon and more rainfall than previous years. Graphs to demonstrate comparative rainfall rates with millimetres of rain received in different localities were proudly displayed.
And then came the lull. It was as if Nature was mocking at the expectations of man. The skies dried up and the heat was turned on again. But this time it was worse as the humidity levels climbed inexorably. The trickles of perspiration started and somehow it was worse than May as this was far from the cool weather that we had been looking forward to for so long.
There was a dramatic turnaround in the weather forecast, with predictions of little chance of a bountiful monsoon. Air-conditioners were switched on again as hope faded. Then, one day, we woke up to an unusual sound. The rain was back and expected to last for some days. Once again the weathermen had reason to cheer and the prediction game started all over again.
Most Indians love the rain and look forward to the monsoon after a long seemingly endless summer. I remember writing to a penpal in days of yore, telling him how much I loved the rain. The reaction was one of surprise, almost shock. How could anyone in their right mind love rain, he asked. I was baffled by his reply. However, years later, when I visited Europe and saw how the weather news was keenly followed before planning any outing, I understood. In countries where rain is a given, there is a longing for blue skies and lots of sunshine. As far as I am concerned, I told my friend, he could have all the sunshine and I would gladly accept the wet weather in exchange.
But, after many days of continuous rain, making it difficult to venture out, I realised I was suffering from cabin fever. As Mark Twain wisely said, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” It is human nature to never be happy with things the way they are and what we look forward to can soon begin to pall.
I suppose we shouldn’t knock the weather. Nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. I am sure that all those living in the UAE will agree with me on this point.
So, perhaps it would be nice if we could follow this sage advice: “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”
Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.