First Showers

Mumbai received its first monsoon season rain showers this week.

It has been so hot these past few weeks, people have been waiting with bated breath for the rains, which are yet to come actually – we only got a few showers. But those few showers was good enough to transform the mood of the people around !

Yes, rain always brings cheer to people all around, especially in a hot country like India (well, most of it is hot at this time of the year !). Though the skies darken with clouds, rain has been playing hide and seek these past couple of days in Mumbai. News about the monsoon hitting the Southern Kerala State was received well here, as that would mean the monsoon would also come to Mumbai within very few days.

The latest forecast mentions that the rains are likely to come by tomorrow, 10th June. But, looking outside at this afternoon sky on the 9th June, I am not so sure. The Indian Meteorological Department does not have an outstanding track record, not to blame their expertise here, but what can they do when they are deprived of radars ? The all-weather, Doppler radars from China are yet to be commissioned, or if they have been recently commissioned, their ability to predict the weather is probably under a question mark.

Usually, from the middle of June till the end of August is monsoon time in Mumbai, with big rains flooding most roads. People like the rains, but also get prepared in full gear to combat the flooding and the resulting traffic chaos. Every year it happens, so people in general are mentally prepared for the challenges.

For instance, people are covering the balconies of their apartments with plasticized blinds (the external side has plastic sheet for tackling rains) to reduce the impact of the rain water on their balconies and potentially, their living rooms ! All the open areas behind the kitchen and the bathrooms (called as “dry” areas in Mumbai apartments) are getting covered with plastic sheets (not in all apartments, only those with anti-water programmes !), and umbrellas/rain coats are becoming standard accessories while on the move.

The important thing is to provide an additional 30 minutes of travel time for any appointment – there will be traffic issues when it starts to rain heavily. And, while driving on the roads, one may not know where the ditches and the holes are, leading to slowing down of all traffic anyway.

But then, these are annual problems – people carry on with their usual spirit, as nothing can deter them, can only slow them down a bit.

So, we are all waiting for the rains now – may come anytime next week. And when it does come, it pours with an intensity that is unbelievable for the first few minutes – people get dazed for some time. As the dust vapour rises from the ground when the rain comes down, one can smell the freshness of the rains – it takes a while to take in the whole scene and absorb the pleasure of the rains after many weeks of scorching son.

Let us see how this monsoon is going to be, we will know very soon !


Vijay Srinivasan

9th June 2012



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