Listen to this Story
Narrated by Anjan Prakash
When It Rains Upon Us
`Why are you shouting sitting so close to me?!’, I shouted back at my husband. Both of us looked up at the roof.
Dhad-dhad-dhad-dhad the rains beat down on the roof tiles of our balcony in Goa, under which we had sat down to discuss some work. Sheets and sheets of water poured from the dark sky, with the clouds performing at full volume and intensity.
This is the Indian monsoon taking birth in the Southwest of India from the Arabian sea, first bathing the whole state of Kerala and then moving across India, beginning in June and ending in September. Most parts of Western and Central India get nearly 70-90% of their rainfall in this monsoon.
We are in July, with the peak of the monsoon sluicing down from the dark sky. In the last few weeks of watching the rain touch the earth, something very interesting began to unravel itself. I noticed how the rainwater shapes and molds into various personalities as they fall on the earth. Almost as if, before they burst out of the clouds, they know what they want to be or become as soon as they land.
Some of the rain quickly settle down into calmness and stillness like the elderly, pouring into the trays of pots, and into wells and lakes, exhausted after a long roaring journey from the clouds. Some become parents, a murmuring white noise of instructions, helicoptering over their young ones the entire day. Quite a bit of rain enjoy being musicians drumming off surfaces, clinking on window panes, strumming on asbestos sheets, dripping from flowers and leaves, like jazz with a lot of improvisation and occasional accompanying vocals from birds and squirrels in the day, and frogs and crickets in the night. Then there is the ambitious adult rain that prefers to join the mighty seas and ocean hissing through the tides, or turn into a magnificent cascading waterfall through hills and valleys, wanting plenty of show and attention. Rain gurgling down the drains, or gushing down the river hurriedly to get somewhere, anywhere, away from the source, are like impatient teenagers. Then there is the playful and mischievous rain like children, splashing off the top of cars, gathering in puddles so they can spray into shapes when vehicles pass over them, bouncing off the floor, or dancing by swinging left or right along with the wind, and pitter-pattering in different corners of the house.
Much of the rains love to nurture and nourish as soon as they make their way to the earth. They belong to the service industry. The clouds are like buckets of water emptied into the fields, into the forests, into the gardens, into all life on earth, and the earth becomes a giant sponge, soaking and sucking, drinking and swallowing gallons and gallons of rainwater. Germinating seeds, developing sprouts, blossoming plants, maturing trees, growing life, the rainwater tends to rearing the earth for the whole year, through its presence for the season.
Selfless in colour, it allows all life to reflect through it. Occasionally however, when the rains meet up with the sun, their joyous hug, bursts open into a beautiful rainbow for all of us to appreciate and admire.
Some of us enjoy droplets falling on our bodies, some of us don’t mind occasional sprays, and then there are some of us who enjoy drenching in the rain showers. There are many who do not enjoy wet in any form, and they appreciate rain from a window, or listen to its lilting sounds and whispers, and sleep soundly to its sound.
At home, we sleep the best during the monsoon season. The heavier the rains, the deeper our sleep. In getting curious about why this is so, I stumbled upon interesting research and evidence supporting it. Isn’t it reassuring when science supports your sleep?
It is said that rains produce pink noise, similar to white noise, except it is deeper, and the distribution of the frequencies is lower than white noise for the human ears, and aids a good sleep. One of the researchers point out that if we spend 20% of our total sleep time in slow wave sleep, when the sound of the rain enters our brain it slows down the brainwaves, and increases the slow wave sleep by 8%. How valuable is that.
Further, the negative ion content in the air goes up during rains, and this not only improves the nervous, cardio, blood and respiratory systems, but it’s also meant to have a calming hypnotic influence on the body.
So, whether it is the pink noise aiding the sleep, higher content of negative ions in the air calming us, dimly lit days releasing good melatonin the sleep hormone in our body, or the lullaby of the rhythmic sound of rain, we are being put to sleep, and who can complain about that?
And now for the piping hot gastronomic indulgences that pour in India, when it rains. Maybe the rain falls so heavily in India, only to soak up the rich savory aromas escaping our kitchens and roadsides. A plate of crispy hot pakoras, the delicious Indian fried fritters made with a batter of chickpea flour and onions, or the street-style butta, the Indian roasted corn on the cob, or the perfect golden crunchy samosas, a triangular Indian pastry baked or fried, or a plate of bhelpuri where the crispy puffed rice is tossed with different chutneys and onions, tomatoes, roasted peanuts and coriander, or kachoris made with a dough stuffed with a delicious spicy filling fried to have a nice crunch, or the steamy roadside momos, the bite-size dumplings, to name a few. Any of this along with the good old masala chai, the Indian tea with aromatic spices, or a strong espresso from the amazing coffee beans India produces, beats any Michelin Star pairing. This is pairing done to the weather, the season and the temperature, not just to the palate. With so many creations to celebrate the monsoon, India is like a Noah’s Ark attracting the heaven onto us.
It’s Saturday early morning, and I look out of the window. The leftover plump drops of rain from the heavy dawn showers are drip-dropping and tapping away, inviting me outdoors. The call of the puff-throated babbler is seducing me to listen to his long folktale that he brings to share each morning. The smell of the pour-over coffee that my husband is making is drawing me into the weekend trance monsoon bubble. The plan over coffee is to discuss where we are stepping out for breakfast.
What are you letting the monsoon rains do to you this season? What are you cooking up right now from the above list?
Please share, so we can together add to our Indian monsoon musings, munches and memories.