A little bit of nostalgia sails gently along like a paper boat in a puddle
The rains have never been a dampener in the good old days (nights). Some of my monsoon memories flash before me as Mumbai gets slowly and steadily drenched this season.
Foremost in my mind is my almost nightly visits to the nightclub Studio 29. Once I got a call the morning after on my landline (no mobiles in those days) from the manager, informing that I could collect my umbrella that I had left behind the night before and that he had got it repaired (a spoke had come out).
I thanked him profusely, excusing my forgetfulness, saying that I had completely forgotten about my umbrella since when I was leaving it wasn’t raining. But it was, he told me. Such was the party spirit in those days that there was a certain romance about the rains. Well, perhaps I was awash with rum and cola (that was my tipple then, whisky and soda came much later) that I did not feel the rain.
But I felt the rain good and proper during the Go Bananas rain dance. It wasn’t rain, though, at least not all the water coming down, there were sprinklers to create a rain storm for the party animals moving and grooving to the beat and left it a wet heap. It was all clean fun.
If you were invited for a party in the monsoon you did not think twice, you just picked up your umbrella or wore your raincoat and gumboots and ventured out in the downpour. And you left early since you did not want to be late, not that there was bumper-to-bumper traffic as there were fewer bumpers in those days with fewer cars on the roads. Public transport was the way to go. It is still the way to go for me now, as even now, I don’t have a car.
Those who did would, perhaps, drive down to the Taj and walk up to the Sea Lounge for tea and sandwiches and a view, through the window, of the waves lashing the Gateway of India. While Sea Lounge was not my scene, I recall that my bar-hopping nights did not stop in the monsoon.
It was time to get wet in places like Lancers’ Bar, Malabar Bar on the 35th floor of the Oberoi (the highest bar in town at that time), the next door Supper Club, Harbour Bar, Apollo Bar, Rendezvous and 1900s at the Taj, Talk of the Town, RG’s, Society at the Ambassador and The Gardens above The Top (which was the ideal place to catch the sunset and the falling rain), the revolving restaurant at the Ambassador. Later, my monsoon nights shifted to pubs and discotheques like J49, Razzberry Rhinoceros and that iconic Fire ‘n’ Ice.
And, of course, visits to the Press Club with invariably some photographer clicking a picture of a wet cat taking refuge under an umbrella opened out to dry. And the rains meant the monsoon medleys, all those songs that romanced the rains. It was before Barbadian singer Rihanna taking you under her umbrella.
It was the time for those delightful musicals like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ starring Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, taking you to Hollywood in the late ‘20s. The words grew on you: ‘I’m singin’ in the rain/Just singin’ in the rain/What a glorious feelin’/I’m happy again ...’ And who can forget ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ starring Paul Newman and his ‘Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head/ Just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed/Nothing seems to fit/Oh, raindrops keep fallin’ on my head/Keep a-fallin’/But there’s one thing I know/The blues they send to meet me/Won’t defeat me/It won’t be long till happiness/Comes up to greet me.’
The monsoon medley goes on with ‘It Never Rains in Southern California’ and the words ‘It never rains in California/But girl don’t they warn ya/It pours, man it pours.’ And ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ made popular by CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) with the lyrics ‘I want to know/Have you ever seen the rain/Coming down on a sunny day?’ Some songs, though classic, were not so happy ones, like ‘November Rain’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses which was even more appreciated while viewing the video.
And then there were the party songs like ‘It’s raining/It’s pouring/The old man is snoring/Went to bed in the middle of the night/Couldn’t get up in the morning ...’ and ‘Rain rain go away/Come back some other day/Little Johnnie wants to play ...' Of course, now little Johnnie-come-lately may want to play but he sure does not want to play football in the mucky ground or sail a paper boat in the rain rivulet. He wants to play on his i-pad or i-pod or whatever you call those handheld gadgets and the click click of buttons that passes off for physical activity these days.