Monday, June 09, 2014

Arrived. Arrived, it has. The monsoon

"The monsoon has set in Kerala" father said with a great deal of excitement in his voice.

Talking about rain and water is very much a part of life among my people in the old country.  I suspect that I, too, was "drenched" in that culture and, thus, with genuine interest I participate in that conversation.

"Even the falls in Courtallam have begun" he added.

Ah, the wonderful waterfalls by grandmother's place.

No wonder I feel so much at home in this part of Oregon, with all the rains and waterfalls.  And, of course, even when I travel, whether it was Costa Rica or Ecuador.

The monsoon drives India's life.  And culture.  An old story is that Vasco da Gama, who charted the maritime route from the Iberian Peninsula to the land of (black) pepper, requested the local king's permission to take a couple of pepper plants with him.  The king apparently replied that he can take all the plants he wanted but would not be able to take the monsoon to Europe.

The Hindi (Sanskrit? Arabic?) word, mausam, became monsoon to Europeans, who decided to colonize the lands of spices, from India to Indonesia.  Can't blame them; if you eat bland food day after day after day, pretty soon you too will want to go beat the crap out of somebody who has some really tasty food! As long as everybody has tasty food and plenty of it, well, peace shall prevail.

The monsoon arrives, editorializes The Hindu:
For Keralites, it is Edavapathi, the rains that come in the middle of the Malayalam month of Edavam. The arrival of the southwest monsoon over this southern State is an event greeted with unalloyed joy and relief right across the country. The rain-bearing clouds will, in due course, make their way north, bringing to an end the unremitting heat of summer. There is hope too that the rains will lead to a bountiful harvest, thus lending an extra bounce to the economy.
The intense heat and dust with which the British had a love-hate relationship will yield to the invading monsoon wind and rain.  But not in all of India--the eastern side where father was talking from, which is leeward, will, for the most part, continue to be one hot and humid place.

"Even we had thunder and lightning and the summer rains here" father noted.  The rains from the near-equatorial conditions.  Not to be confused with the monsoon, for which it will be a long wait.

May it rain--not too much, not too little, and just right. I wish the old country a Goldilocks monsoon.


Ramesh said...

Arrived. Arrived. So they say. I am yet to find evidence - the useless met office says today it will start in Bangalore and its nice and sunny with not a cloud in the sky.

Without the monsoon, we will all perish. No water to drink. So we pray for it to rain like crazy, form a lake of a few centimetres citywide, create a million potholes on the roads, leak inside every house, etc etc - we'll cheerfully put up with all that in order to get some water to drink for the next one year.

By the way, I am not sure if the monsoon tourism from the Middle East to Bombay still exists. I remember quite a few sheikhs taking up all the suites in Taj and Oberoi only to watch the rain !!!

Anne in Salem said...

Watching the rain, especially with thunder and lightning, is a delightful pastime. Two evenings come to mind. We moved to Utah in the summer, and the clouds opened up with a torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightning, which my daughter had not seen before. She was mesmerized, a face I will never forget. Second, four years ago during a family trip to Colorado, we all gathered on the patio of the house to watch the dry thunder and lightning in the distance. The children watched, silent and still, as if they had never seen such a show. Magical.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, I read the news reports and commentaries about the El Nino repercussions, and whether the total rainfall might be less than normal. The WSJ wonders whether it is too early to think about a drought. I suspect that this is one of those many instances when too much information makes us more panicky than we need to be.

Watching the rain, especially the monsoon rain is simply awesome. The dry thunder and lightning is a tad scary, I admit. Scary because of the potential for fires. And how once a lightning struck our home and mother lucked out by not being in that upstairs room where the electric circuit started smoking. Beautiful or scary, reminders that we humans are insignificant in these cosmological settings.

BTW, here is a video from a few years ago, when I was in Bombay towards the end of the monsoons:

Gowrisankar Namasivayam said...

Had a bountiful rain couple of days back. The monsoon has arrived one week late in Kerala. But in Chennai it was a downpour for 4 hours and then followed with intermittent drisil all through the day. Helped reduce the chennai heat which was soaring to 41°C.