By Akhil Sood Aug. 02, 2016
My house has become victim to the horrors of seepage. I wouldn’t dare step out – each day brings with it a new dreadful tale about submerged cars and six-hour-long traffic snarls.
When the rain begins to smack against the ground, you will invariably have that one person around, wholly incapable of original thought, who will jabber on (with a nauseating sense of accomplishment) about the “smell of fresh rain on soil”. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve achieved in life – this will happen. (And with it, a famous writer somewhere in the world will kill herself.) It’s just how the world works. And then, as the rain transforms into a ceaseless downpour that makes everything, including you, smell wholly fetid and vaguely fungal, the Lit101 blather stops.
Bear with me as I dump my grievances here for some belated catharsis. As I do this, the clanging, scuttling rain is, of course, making a nuisance of itself outside. A drain on the street is blocked because a floating rat doing laps presumably got lodged into it, leading to a knee-deep river of muck, playing the role of infinity pool and graveyard for adventurous rodents.
I can’t figure out the correct temperature to set the AC to, because the abrupt dip in mercury has messed up my internal body temperature, as also the AC’s. I’m either too hot or too cold. There’s nothing on TV except for a black canvas with an absentminded message on it, informing me, “The inconvenience is regretted. Better luck next time. Love, Tata Sky.” The internet tells me, “The inconvenience is regretted. Better luck next time. Love, Airtel.” My phone tells me… nothing. My phone tells me nothing because there’s no network. Not that it matters, because I’m sure the battery has been pickled with muddy rainwater.
My house has become victim to the horrors of seepage, so an icicle just bounced off my head. Another one is forming in its place on the ceiling, ready to drop in a matter of seconds. I could go somewhere, but the great local train network in Mumbai (add “city with spirit of resilience” tagline here) and Ola Cabs which has eliminated its “surge pricing”, will charge me five times the amount as “low peak pricing”. Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t dare – each day brings with it a new horror tale about submerged cars and six-hour-long traffic jams in some or the other thriving, bustling metropolis. In Mumbai, every biker in a reversed jacket seeking refuge under the JJ Flyover near Mohammad Ali Road only adds to the one-billion-car bottleneck developing all the way in Malad, opposite Inorbit Mall. It’s lunchtime as we speak, but people are still trying to reach their office in DLF Phase III, Gurgaon, searching for discount submarines on Flipkart via patchy Vodafone network. Infrastructure has been reduced to a theoretical concept.
Obviously I understand the benefits of a healthy monsoon season, beyond my own privileged intolerance. I very much get that a drought is never good unless it’s surrounded by a beer mug.
It’s no better in the air either. Flights refuse to take off, despite the fact that they have nothing – no ass-headed pedestrians darting across the street, no potholes, no bottlenecks, no cops in yellow raincoats directing traffic – to worry about, turning airports into frantic nuclear shelters. The ones that do take off after massive delays (“The inconvenience is regretted”) have an altogether different problem to tackle: the myriad terrors of mid-air turbulence.
Yes, everything looks really pretty and exaggerated from a distance. The rain cuts the heat instantly. The weather is lovely; it’s romantic and inspiring. The background of a downpour can elevate the experience of listening to music to something approaching ecstasy. The monsoons make for a great companion during moments of thoughtful self-reflection. Heck, you could even try out the trusted chai-cigarette-samosa stereotype for good measure. And playing football in the rain – or dancing, if that works – are indispensable experiences of growing up.
But none of that negates the Wet Socks Principle. As far as discomfort goes, having wet socks ranks very much near the top of the list. Or bottom, whatever. Each step, each physical motion is accompanied by a plomp sound like the death of an overripe tomato. The feet feel like they weigh a thousand kilos; like they need to be lifted up with giant tongs.
Obviously I understand the benefits of a healthy monsoon season, beyond my own privileged intolerance. I very much get that a drought is never good unless it’s surrounded by a beer mug. So those guys deserve all the breaks they can catch, and if the rains lead to a solid harvest, then that’s great. However, coming from Delhi, I’m of course far more familiar with the aggro-culture industry than the agriculture one. You know: floods, destroyed crops, sparse sales, not enough people on the streets to threaten, watery butter chicken, superhero-like insects.
Right on cue, an icicle falls again, and the next one, as if deciding that the rain bashing is now bordering on abuse, falls even faster. The idea of carrying a jumbo umbrella indoors becomes a distinct possibility. That is my nadir. That is where I stop.