In countries all over the world, it rains. In some places, it showers, in others it pours, thunders and even drizzles. Over in the good old Indian subcontinent, we have the ‘monsoons’, a polite term for rain so heavy it feels like someone perched atop the roofs of buildings is emptying buckets of water on our heads.
But we’re used to it. We wouldn’t swap our monsoons for all the cutely-named hurricanes and typhoons raging anywhere else.
There is little to do in the monsoons, except to get drenched in the rain or better yet, stay indoors, play board games, eat monsoon-friendly food, watch movies and purchase an umbrella, a handy device for those days when you feel adventurous enough to brave the outdoors. Let’s look a closer look at these activities and their impact on our rain-filled lives.
Appetizers for a rainy day
The most favoured snacks during the monsoons consist of steaming cups of tea and pakoras (prepared by smothering miserable vegetables in a batter of gram flour and then deep-frying them).
Bengalis make khichdi, which an Indian author pandering to western audiences might describe as ‘an exquisite mixture of rice and lentils flavoured with onions and tomatoes’. They believe the simultaneous preparation of khichdi in a dozen households together creates a low-pressure area thus diverting the clouds’ attentions to other drought-prone locations. This works fine for day one, when the rain does indeed stop. Come day two, we are back to the rain pelting down on our windows and threatening to unscrew its hinges without manual intervention.
My mother has resolved this problem by persistently cooking khichdi every single day of the monsoons until the rains finally beat a prolonged retreat, at which point she takes full credit for the crystal-clear skies.
The Umbrella Phenomenon and Murphy’s Law
This year, for a month and ten days it rained. Continuously. I got drenched, while running from the bus to the office, the home to the auto stand, the auto to the shopping mall…you get the gist. After losing several kilos due to this sprinting activity, I started carrying an umbrella. The first day I armed myself with this shelter-bestowing device, it drizzled. The sky appeared grey and downcast, in no mood to pelt down lashes as it was accustomed to. On the second day it stopped raining altogether. A week of my umbrella-carrying and no-rain-occurring continued, at the end of which I left my umbrella at home, and the entire process repeated itself again.
A few ‘fun’ people actually used to welcome the monsoons. What an opportunity, they said, to not take a bath at home! On 26th July, 2005, after witnessing the city of Mumbai turn into an ocean, they changed their minds. The next day they signed up for swimming lessons, and have always bathed indoors ever since.
Rain in the films
Indian movies tend to give the impression that doing the salsa in the rain is one of the most pleasurable activities one can indulge in. It convinces people that things like pneumonia are but a figment of their imagination, and they need not fear the consequences of waltzing during a downpour and getting soaked to their skin. The sight of heroines wearing sarees or other transparent apparel that have the added advantage (much to the hero’s delight!) of clinging to her curves go a long way in confirming this view, with the result that clinics all over the country during the monsoons witness an unprecedented increase in the number of sneezing coughing patients.
Cricket in the monsoon
The unduly long monsoons that lash our country prevent cricketers from playing as much as they would like. Usually, this period is devoted to playing county cricket, so our players get to inflict their ghastly game on the English viewers. This is beneficial to the cricketers, but sadly, it deprives the BCCI from earning as much as they could have if they were able to set up a few exciting clashes with our rival teams. The BCCI, however, is innovative. This problem cannot stump them for too long. I think the day is not far when an article, such as the following, will grace the sports pages of national dailies:
Cricket in the rain
In a desperate bid to revive cricket frenzy in the country, the BCCI, in a fit of enthusiasm, declared yesterday that instead of abandoning a rain-threatened match, they would provide all the players with umbrellas to continue the game.
This meant that the batsman would have to take guard with an umbrella in one hand, and his bat in the other. But it would be inhuman to suppose that the bowler could bowl holding his own umbrella. Thus the 12th man would be utilized to perform this service, by holding it and running after the bowler in hot pursuit.
This step will have two distinct advantages:
- The batsman would be considerably unnerved by the spectacle of two burly bowlers descending on him, and this would lead him to hit some rather shaky strokes.
- The 12th man would justly earn his bread, as he would be required to run 50 overs per day. (In case of the opponents of the Indian team, this figure may be drastically reduced)
In addition to the above, it will be necessary for the wicket-keeper to catch all catches with one hand. But if he dislikes this activity, he is welcome to (on payment of a token fee) purchase a container in which he may catch the ball.
Of course, the best solution to all these situations, that would combine wholesome public entertainment together with great reduction in costs, would be for all the cricket-playing teams to purchase the CRUMB or the CRicket UMBrella. This is a simple device that attaches itself seamlessly to cricketers’ helmets, caps, turbans, and any other headgear they may choose to wear. Certainly the BCCI would be pleased to be able to offer the CRUMB at a fabulously discounted rate of US$150,000 per piece. The governing body of other cricket-playing nations may also choose to purchase a set of 15 CRUMBS at a nominal rate of US$5,000,000.
With each purchase, the following are free:
- Ear-piece – skin-coloured, waterproof and cleverly concealed in the lining, perfect for communication with the coach throughout the match
- Raincoat – automatically drops down from the CRUMB at the press of a button
We urge cricketers to place their orders for the CRUMBs before it’s too late. After all, the special offer stands only as long as stocks last!
The rain in India,
In mainly near the Vindhyas,
But the cricket in the monsoon,
For the board, ‘tis a boon!
As the poet Henry Longfellow said, ‘Into each life, some rain must fall’!
A slightly different version of this was originally published on Rediff.com