Why There is Nothing Romantic About the Mumbai Monsoons


Why There is Nothing Romantic About the Mumbai Monsoons

Illustration: Akshita Monga

Monsoon, also known as the season in which people greet you by stabbing you in the eye with an umbrella, is finally upon us. This season has been crucial because India is primarily an agricultural country and therefore, we need the rains to ensure that our Instagram pictures look pretty.

If you look back, I’m sure you’ll have a favourite monsoon story. Most people, apart from farmers in the Vidarbha region, are bound to have one. My personal favourite monsoon moment was the one where I felt the raindrops on my face and rushed home to spend time with my family, only to be welcomed by mom, shouting, “KITNE BAAR BOLA HAI GEELE SHOES LE KE GHAR MEIN MAT AAYA KAR. YOU ARE DISOWNED. THIS IS SPARTA!!”

To repent for my sin, I then had to move to the kitchen and help mom make some chai and pakoras, because, we, as a family, bond over a steaming cup of tea and a plate of cholesterol. Along with chai and pakoras, we also played Bollywood  “rain songs” which are usually… well… set in the rain. The only thing left to get the full feel of a typical Indian monsoon, was to get infected with dengue or malaria, which somehow we didn’t.

I think rain songs in our movies are one of the major reasons why we have a nation romanticising the idea of monsoon. Every such Bollywood number is basically a code for the director telling the audience, “Hey, the dog ate the script, so we don’t have a storyline. But please enjoy this song, where we exploit the actress by over-sexualising and objectifying her, and getting her to gyrate in the rain in skimpy clothes.”

Also, I am just happy that John Kerry got his own car and did not rely on cabs, because even he would not have been able to afford Uber’s surge pricing this season.

I don’t get this whole romance angle. I have never met a person who likes to go on a date wearing damp underwear, soggy socks, and wet clothes, unless he is Aquaman. Bollywood, IMO, has set unrealistic expectations for everyone by over-romanticising the rains. When Ranbir Kapoor looks out of his window in Wake Up Sid, as “Iktara” plays in the background, it is considered romantic. But when I do the same, I am a creep who likes to stare at girls living in my neighbourhood and hence should jump off the window.

Let’s face it. This monsoon, or any other for that matter, is not romantic. What it is, is a reminder. A reminder of the pathetic infrastructure of a country, where roads come apart as quickly as a girl’s make-up after she’s three drinks down. The rains might make Shah Rukh Khan outstretch his arms and romance girls half his age, but the average Indian can only raise his middle finger to the incessant downpour.

Even former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was on a trip to India in August 2016, was not spared by the rains. His motorcade got stuck on Delhi’s waterlogged roads. “I don’t know if you came in boats… but I salute you,” he said, addressing the students. Now, I have full sympathy for Kerry, but this isn’t the worst thing that could have happened to him by any stretch. He could have visited some college in Noida and students would have told him that he was a legend and they loved his acting in Dumb and Dumber.

Also, I am just happy that John Kerry got his own car and did not rely on cabs, because even he would not have been able to afford Uber’s surge pricing this season.

Anyway, now that the monsoons are arriving, we’ll have people frantically searching for the meaning of the word “pluviophile” on Google. If that isn’t enough, a year from now, we will once again abandon everything we are doing and begin a desperate countdown for the rains, and discuss likely monsoon arrival dates, as if we have received a personal Whatsapp from the southwest winds.

Here’s a simple two-step guide to predict the arrival of the monsoons every year:

1. Firstly, and most importantly, people will liberally begin to update their Facebook status with words like “petrichor”.
2. Secondly, it will rain.