Rain. The very word has so many emotions attached to it. Rain can be soothing, peaceful, destructive, sorrowful, melancholic. It can be hard, soft, gentle, forceful. Rain is like a moody character in a modernist play. Like a lot of people, I enjoy the company of rain when am indoors sitting by the window with a book. I like to hear soft rain falling on leaves and plashing on stones. I like to see the green that pops out on hedges and trees soon after, accompanied by the drip-drip of water from the leaves and the call of birds and crickets. But there are times when I have enjoyed rain in its myriad forms. Here are a few that remain with me.
Masala puri in the rain, Bangalore
Bangalore is (was) known for its moderate climate that delights visitors and residents alike all the year round. But there are some days during the monsoons when the skies turn leaden with fat rain-filled clouds accompanied by a strong breeze that carries the perfume of wet earth. On those days I would stand in the cosy safety of my balcony and watch as hapless people ran for shelter from the heavy downpour while dodging the small rivulets that were already forming on the ground. But one day I became one of them. I was staying at my friend’s place for the weekend and that evening we decided to go to our favourite street vendor to eat some masala puri. As we stood at his stall, scooping up the hot concoction it began to drizzle and then pour. We waited for it to stop. We waited for more than 15 minutes. And then, we stepped out onto the streets with a smile. I felt the rain soak me instantly, my hair sticking to my scalp within minutes. We walked the 10 minutes to my friend’s house relishing the feel of cool rain on a hot day. The roads were nearly empty and the people huddling under shop awnings and bus shelters stared in complete befuddlement at these two women laughing and walking along. This time, I stood in the cosy safety of a warm friendship and felt the rain pour joy down on me.
Skipping to school, Mumbai
Mumbai is known for having rain-soaked months that make the ground heave with muck and debris. The air smells of wet mud, garbage and rubber as people slosh past in wellies holding umbrellas. This is one of the predominant memories I have of Mumbai from my childhood. Every day, there would be three people at my service getting my 5-year-old self ready for school. My grandfather would pack my schoolbag, my grandmother would get my lunchbox ready and my mother would dress me. Wrapped in my printed raincoat and wearing black wellies I would walk under grandfather’s umbrella, holding his finger, hopping and skipping my way to school. I took delight in the smallest of things – jumping into the puddles and creating big splashes, the odd raindrop on my face, a small chocolate on the way back. Today, it’s memories like these that help me to continue revelling in the small joys that life has to offer.
Trekking up a volcano, Indonesia
Mountains don’t enamour me as much as beaches do. Given a choice, I had rather walk on the beach, read a book and watch the ocean waves. But when a plan to trek up Mount Semeru, the highest peak in Java, Indonesia was floated by my friends, I was excited. Trekking up a 2400 meter high extinct volcano (well, almost) seemed thrilling and a wonderful experience. Little did I think how thrilling it was going to be. When we neared Kalimati, the base camp, after trudging for nearly ~15 kilometres the threatening clouds that we saw earlier began to open up. We were relieved when we reached the camp just as it started to pour. But it rained the whole night and climbing the peak in the middle of the night to see the sunrise was out of the question. After sunrise, poisonous vapours make it impossible to climb. Disappointed, we packed our stuff in the morning and began making our way back under gloomy skies. The rain started falling in sheets midway through the trek. We were drenched to our bones as we slipped and slid through the muddy trail. Part of the trail that we had walked on had simply broken, lying on the mountain floor below in a heap of crumbled rocks and mud. How we crossed this is a story for another post but we hauled our rain-soaked selves across somehow. As we dragged our squelching boots, water-laden rucksacks, puckered skin, and cold bodies back into the village where we started from, I felt a sense of relief. Looking back, I can safely say it was one of the greatest adventures I have had in all my travels.
Rain, sun and running, Dublin
Dublin is a small city but its many leafy suburbs and sprawling parks make it a treat to explore. I was lucky to stay 10 minutes away from Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe, where I would go for long walks and runs. Running in the park in spring and summer is a joy and there is one particular day that stands out for me. I had been feeling down because I hadn’t been able to reach my goal of 7 or 8 kilometres despite pushing myself the last few times. On this day, I decided that I would simply run without looking at the distance and pay more attention to the lush trees, the pretty, colourful flowers that waved at me, and the shy deer that grouped around in the field along the trail. When I started out it was pleasantly breezy and I jogged along enjoying the sun on my back. But after some time, in typical Dublin fashion, the skies began to darken as I worriedly looked up. I was not in the mood to endure one of Dublin’s chilly showers. Just as I was cursing the weather, the sun smiled again. And it began to drizzle. I hadn’t stopped running all this while but now I slowed down to a jog as small dots of rain began to fall. I jogged along in the mild sunshine, a gentle misty rain washing my face and soul. I felt my spirits began to lift and I smiled as I turned back to see a rainbow, shimmering in the distance. A divine day and a beautiful memory.
Stormy Skye, Scotland
Scotland was a place that had been lingering on my to-visit list of countries for a long time. I finally made it last year and spent ten rocking days with SoulMuser. We wandered around Edinburgh and then went on to Isle of Skye, a place we had been really looking forward to. Rain was on the cards for the 3 days we spent there but we ventured out anyway. We were staying in a camper van that was set in the front yard of the house where the owners stayed. For miles around, there wasn’t a single tree or shelter but the views were stunning, which is another reason for picking this spot in addition to the fact that we get to stay in a camper van. We set out along the road that hugged the ocean offering spectacular views on one side and small hillocks dotted with wide-eyed sheep on the other. A light breeze began picking up, soon gathering into a strong wind. We were on our way to see the remains of an ancient, crumbling castle. Half way through, the rain came. It was as if the ocean had unseated itself and was beating down on us. The strong winds almost flattened us against the rocks and the rain lashed against us in all fury. We were rooted to the spot as we tightened our jackets and held on to our hoods to stop them from slipping. Laughing and annoyed at the same time we stood out the rain, which lasted just for about 10 minutes. And all of a sudden, it stopped and the sun peeked out. It was almost as if he was playing games and laughing at us because we lost. We stood there taking in the warmth. A delicious mix of bliss, annoyance, and joy that comes from both experiencing the moment and also knowing that it is not going to repeat itself washed over me. “Feel it on my fingertips/feel it on my windowpane,” sang my mind from Madonna’s “Rain.”