After the blistering summer with the mercury soaring above 30 degree Celsius, the sight of dark rain clouds bring sighs of relief to the farmer as well as the common man facing acute water shortage for domestic and agricultural purposes. The arrival of pre-monsoon rain is a welcome sight.
I always like to hear the pitter-patter of raindrops, howling winds and at times the frightening thunderbolts accompanied by streaks of lightning. As a young lad I detested carrying a bumbershoot that was extremely large and cumbersome. But, its huge curved handle and large spike at the bottom can be turned into a formidable weapon when confronted by a fierce mongrel or dangerous cow. Luckily these days technology has improved the basic necessity.
Five- or six-fold variants of Teflon, UPF-coated, brightly coloured brollies are a fashion rage and are compact enough to fit into any vanity bag. There are also on sale, multiple varieties of light-weight waterproof footwear, raincoats and garments specially designed to withstand the monsoon—no doubt blessing pedestrians and motorcyclists. The monsoons being so severe, around seven to 10 million umbrellas are sold every year in Kerala alone.
After a blissful walk in the rain and getting soaked to the skin, I paid the price for my rashness and was down with bronchitis. The medics then were only apothecaries usually prescribing liquid medicines dispensed in house from a combination of peppermints, ginger berries and other colourful ingredients preserved in glass bottles. Some of the “mixtures” gave a lot of pep when consumed and could be equated with a mild sip of brandy. At home too there were remedies like chicken soup, inhalation, hot fermentation and a rub down with eucalyptus oil.
June is famous for the most number of wet days and monsoon fury. Surprisingly, this is also when schools reopen welcoming many reluctant first-timers. It is interesting to observe the tiny tots in their crisp uniform, with heavy school bags, water bottles and multi-coloured parasols being literally towed by their parents to the school buses amid tearful tantrums!
Come July, there are extremely strong winds and torrential downpours, especially during “Aadi”—the fourth month in the Tamil calendar. “Aadi Pandigai” is celebrated on the first of the month. This is when prayers are offered to propitiate water goddesses. Traditionally, the locals enjoy the festivities by feasting sumptuous meals where the main course is mutton or chicken washed down with alcoholic beverages.
As “Aadi” ends during the second week of August, the monsoon weakens and it rains mostly in the afternoon. It’s time to resume outdoor activities, take stock of the rain-wrought damages and make repairs.