The Strange, Beautiful Indian Monsoons

I recently escaped Mumbai for about four days (Kolad and Kamshet), seizing the opportunity as soon as it appeared. About two hours into my drive, the surroundings became so verdant that I had my camera out and about instantly! All that was good about the Indian monsoon suddenly revealed itself to me. However, there was one problem: every one of my photographs had a dull sky. Let me assure you I have never seen greenery do a better job in a photo than this, but we all know that beautiful scenery is ‘ideally’ supposed to have a lovely blue sky littered with cute little tufts of white clouds. I thought, if I show this to one of my friends in Europe or USA, they’re going to gasp at how green it is, but also comment about the grey skies. Sure enough, it happened. I don’t blame them, clouds like this automatically make us expect bad weather. The funny part was, while the weather seemed bad because of the gloom, I was loving it (and so was everyone around me). It was hard to explain what I was (happily) doing out there on such a day to anyone simply over my mobile phone, which got me thinking and lead to this blog post.

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Monsoon in India (rather, the subcontinent), is different from rain in the western world. For the most part, rain or a gloomy day is cursed in places like New York or London, say. It becomes chilly, windy, and quite uncomfortable. Getting wet is definitely not an option. Although the monsoon in heavy in India, and brings floods, traffic jams, mosquitoes and slime with it, it also makes the weather cooler, brings water to the crops, and beautifies every piece of open land it touches. As much as we wish the rains would go away, it takes just one little excursion into nature to change our minds (or at least mine). It’s the little rivulets of water running between your feet, the liberating, palpable wetness you feel as the bigger drops come down, the glinting leaves on trees with children splashing about underneath them, the frogs and snails finding peace in being out and about, the graceful women working in at least ankle deep water in the paddy fields, and most of all, the hundreds of hundreds of waterfalls that appear out of nowhere and proceed to simply take over the hillsides.

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I soon realized that a lot of guides and travel magazines could be wrong when they say monsoon is not a good time to visit India. It really depends on the kind of person you are. You may have to spend half an hour extra on the plane as it circles Mumbai airport awaiting permission to land or forget your mobile phone in your pocket and find it dripping wet. You may even fail to ever appear presentable (in other words, dry) while the season is ongoing. But then, there’s so much more.

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And how could I forget. The romance. A nice monsoon walk. The most cliched and most amazing thing to do during an Indian monsoon.  Leave your phone, leave your wallet, leave your adulthood. Get drenched. It’s a nice feeling, to go out and get wet, but not freeze to death.

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