For Bombaywalas the monsoon is an important event. Since we don’t have any marked seasons here we cannot go into nostalgic rhapsodies about winter gajak and summer fruits like our friends up north. But we become focussed and intentful like warriors as the rains approach, and then spend the months from June to September discussing the weather, with the same minuteness people discuss relationships.
It starts end of May - we start sighing about the humidity, we huff and we puff and cast ourselves on office chairs and couches like returning adventurers every time we return from outside - baap re, the humidity is crazy. In June we start obsessing about those small smudgy clouds that are in the mid-distance and fantasising about what we’ll do in the rains. Then the monsoon comes and we instantly start cribbing about it.
Subsequently we start obsessing about whether enough water has collected in the reservoirs, all the time fearing our building society’s preventive water parsimony. The papers carry those little tables detailing the water levels in Tansa and Vaitarna et al. I was deeply relieved to know that though there are still two months of the monsoon left, we have already received more than half our quota of water. Good to know there’s more where some came from.
Every year before the rains I become very concerned about my preparedness. I feel I must buy rainy shoes that are exactly correct. They should look cool, be of a colour that is both unusual but magically goes with many other shades. They should not be too high that I can’t balance, nor be so low that my feet will get wet. I wonder if I should buy a raincoat - and peer intently from autorickshaws at every window display. Needless to say, 10 years on I have yet to find those perfect rain shoes or the right raincoat and spend each monsoon destroying my good shoes or never going out.
Then there is the matter of the right umbrella - foldable, but then it’s too small. Big, but then I might leave it somewhere. The matter of fashion and aesthetics also enters this one. And needless to say it’s usually September before I find the right umbrella, the One, the kind you want to marry.
Meanwhile, I have been doing time pass with several less-than-ideal umbrellas, open-ended, non-committal relationships, which may be of my choosing, but still make me feel insecure. About the rains I mean. Recently I purchased a red umbrella from a man walking down the street which, when held in my hand with its nose on the ground, reaches my armpit. It is hard to say whether I look like Mahatma Gandhiji preparing for the Dandi march with this umbrella in my hand or like a politician’s umbrella girl. But I certainly felt I finally had made the right choice and nothing could go wrong.
As I have discovered, it is possible to leave the ideal umbrella, just as you will certainly leave the perfect lover. While you can’t predict the rains, you can definitely predict that you will leave the umbrella in the office exactly when it rains enough to bring back traumatic memories of the 2006 flood.
When the monsoon is not here, we imagine it like the perfect holiday, the perfect relationship, the perfect season in which we will get drenched and eat bhuttas on Worli Seaface just like Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterji in that song, Rimjhim gire saawan. I don’t think I’ve done that since I was 20. Once the monsoon arrives, we complain, we crib and we fear getting wet. That’s love for you.
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com. The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.