Now that the monsoons are here in Mumbai again, I keep thinking that there is no other season or weather that can fill one with as deep and different emotions as the rains. There is a little something in these for everyone. Hindi movies have always used Saawan or rains for varied purposes. The most common is the longing that the village belle feels for her lover who has gone to pardes (out station) and has not returned even when the romantic season is here. Taste this: “Saawan ke jhule pade hain, tum chale aayo (Swings are out on the trees during rains; come to me, my love”; or “Saawan ke din aaye, beeti yaadein laye..(Rainy days have arrived again; bringing with them lost memories”.
As far as titillation is concerned, there is nothing like rain to wet the saree of the heroine and give alluring glimpses of her sumptuous assets. The sensuousness of a Bollywood actress is often measured against the scale of her revealing herself whilst performing the rain dance. The heroine sings that her heart is going “dhak dhak” but actually that is the effect of the song. Drops of rainwater falling over a pond and causing small ripples are an enchanting sight. And if one is to watch these whilst listening to the crickets and the plonk of the drops, one would be filled with an overwhelming desire to be out walking in the drizzle. A boat in the lake in soft drizzle is another picturesque sight.
In a city like Mumbai or for that matter any Indian city facing perpetual water shortages, rains signify the abundance of this scarce commodity. Many people just walk in the rain to have a bath they had promised themselves long back. Many leave buckets and pans in the open to fill these up as never before.
Rainy season is a favourite for unplanned holidays or breaks from work. It is because Mumbai’s transportation system comes to a halt with anything but light rains. Schools and colleges are closed and offices are forced to let off their staff either early or for the days when it rains heavily. Walking on the roads is the most dangerous exercise one can indulge in.
As you gingerly find your way on the flooded roads and you only manage to find your foot in the pothole you have luck on your side; you manage to return home with minor injuries. However, if your foot finds an open manhole (such manholes are often left open by the municipality to add to the adventure of being in Mumbai) you will face huge hardships. Rains are also a good excuse for not doing anything or for postponing things. After you have chosen your furniture at the neighbourly shop and paid the advance money and you await delivery, the rains break out. You are left high and dry, nay, low and wet. “Let the rains get over”, your friendly shopkeeper informs you, “and I will make sure your sofa set is delivered promptly”.
(This is first part of the article and the remaining part will continue tomorrow)
– Part I