Mumbai Monsoon

Rapid downpour that lasts hours, flooded streets, Mumbai local trains stuck, commuters stranded, TV channels covering the Mumbaikars woes ceaselessly – images that don’t quite change as every year we welcome the rains.

Sitting in the Middle East where it is sweltering hot as we speak, as I watch the news unfold on my Google feed, it brings back a mixed memories of fun and strife that pockmarked our lives during every monsoon.

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Mumbaikars are used to many routines and monsoons is one of the seasonal ones. We hope it would be different but it usually remains quite standard. It better be I guess for monsoon are our lifeline and far more significant things depend on it than the inconvenience and hazards faced by the ordinary commuter.

One of the things that I used to be prepared for was the possibility that I may have to spend a night at the Office. Sometimes that is simply the safest option than venturing out to find that all modes of transport are stuck – the final desperate move that we have all tried is making a human chain and simply walking on to our homes. Often we would be doing this on submerged railways tracks. It is desperate measures at desperate times.

Else we also manage with some makeshift arrangements – just going along to a friend’s house as he happens to stay in an area that is not flooded. On some evenings you are simply stuck in the car and the traffic. My adventuresome friends would want to explore unknown road routes – well ever tried to take some unheard routes in the Mumbai Salt Pan area called BPT road to beat that traffic snarls that hound the traditional roads.

And there are many fun moments too – time spent at Bandra Band Stand, Worli Sea Face, Bandra Worli Sea Link, and of course the iconic Gateway of India seaface. Idle evening spent with friends often gorging on monsoon delights of roadside Tea and a plate of hot bhajiyas. Street kids and the youth in particular revel in drenching themselves in the monsoon.

For the armchair types, it means more time spent indoors possibly reading books and catching on old movies. They don’t quite make rain songs nowadays like the popular one of the yore. A personal favourite that is often favoured by the radio channels is R D Burman’s ‘Rim Jhim Gire Saawan…’ from the movie Manzil featuring Big B and Maushmi Chatterjee. Kishore Kumar’s romantic voice has the right gravitas for the mood though the rain mood is captured in the peppier rendition by Lata Mangeshkar. The song traipses the familiar sights and scenes in Mumbai. What amazes me is that Lata renders the peppier version to perfection since we associate fun songs more with Kishore Kumar. Whatever might have led to the choice, it works for me. I never quite miss catching this song every monsoon. It remains a truly evergreen one.

Monsoon means a lot more to me now than ever before – for past few years we have been in Middle East wherein rains happen rarely and even then are barely little more than a drizzle. My little daughter has grown up quite a bit without realizing what are rains and the fun she has missed in recent times. Seen from that perspective the ardours of rain don’t seem to be so bad after all.

Credit: Punit Paranjpe Courtesy: Getty Images
Credit: Punit Paranjpe
Courtesy: Getty Images

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