If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Sep 8, 2008

Rainy Day People...

MRF always has a rain day announcement. Trying to predict the day the monsoon will descend on Bombay. They don’t usually get it right. So the next day they run an ad saying ‘we got it wrong but aren’t you glad you’re ready for the rains with your new MRF tyres. And we wait for the rains to come. Eagerly, at first and after a few weeks anxiously. Crops start dying in far away fields. Vaitarna and Vihar lakes are close to being empty. Prayers are read out in church. Novenas are made. And then on a day the weather report says will have lots of sunshine and no clouds. The rains come. Umbrellas are taken down from the top of the Godrej. Raincoats are washed clear of the powder they’ve been preserved in over the last year. Rain shoes are tried on only to find they’ve shrunk while in storage. [ No ! my feet could’nt have become fatter. ] Wipers are fitted back onto cars. Because you’ve removed them before the local junkies did. Theres a solution called Anti-Rust that goes onto all the chrome that makes it shine like gold . Theres a choice of anti-rusts. Gold or bronze. While all the anti-rust that gets left behind on your fingers only makes them black. And sticky. But it keeps the rust away.
The rains came down. And the floods come up. The gutters either drain the rain water efficiently or choke like when you had to have the bitter jaundice medicine.
. It depends on the tide. High tide , and the rain water can’t get out. Low tide, and our gutters runneth smoothly into the sea. Paper boats are dropped into one side of the sewer that runs beneath the driveway. And applauded when they emerge unscathed on the other side. The little streams that run above ground don’t have enough of a draft for our nautical masterpieces. The bit of palm leaf at the point where it joins the tree makes a perfect boat. Kon Tiki inspired . You paint it. You sandpaper it. You christen it. And then you don’t have the heart to put it into the gutter to test it’s seaworthiness. So you put it in the showcase.
If it’s raining when you go to sleep, you pray very hard. That it might continue to rain very hard. So hard that the next day will be declared a rainy day holiday. The newspaper gets delivered . Not good. If the paper could come to you then you are probably going to be able to get to school. You set off with your socks rolled up in your pocket . You’re instructed to put them on only when you are in class. You’re told not to splash in every puddle between home and school. You’re told to keep your raincoat cap on. You’re told not to forget your raincoat in school on the way back.
You try to get as close to the puddle the bus has to splash thru in before it can proceed. What are raincoats for?
You get to class. A sorry and washed out bunch. Raincoats dripping over the railing. The floor a mix of mud from the playground and the rainwater still leaking thru a not very watertight roof. Fifty raincoats. One umbrella.[ the teachers]. A few wet socks on top of the raincoats. [ Everyones mother didn’t have the foresight of yours.] Books are removed from plastic bags that are removed from schoolbags. A little smudge from where the water managed to get thru the double fold of the plastic bag. And as you settle down a notice is brought to the class. The school is shutting down because of the rain. Did you hear the cry when the Israelites trumphed over the Egyptians. Did you hear the cry when Dhoni and gang won the ODI world cup? Did you hear the cry when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon ? If you heard all these you’ve still heard nothing. Till you’ve heard the cry of 2500 boys who are informed that instead on spending the next eight hours at a desk ,they are free. Free to play football in the rain. Free to sail paper boats in overflowing gutters. Free to try and swim in the 18 “ of water that might flood St. Pauls road. Free. Free. Free.
You rush home. Past stranded cars and motorcycles. Which seem to be wheel less in the rising waters. You stay far from the edge of the road. Where the fine line that divides road from gutter is a thing of the distant past. You give the corner dustbin a wide berth. Some of it’s contents still sail pretty close to where you are. You dump bag school bag and raincoat and socks [ now soaked ] and shoes and school uniform. And set of to enjoy what the raingods have bestowed upon you.
And so it goes. Two days of rain. Three days. A week. The washing is hanging from the backs of the chairs around the dining table. The electric mains are switched off every time the water in the staircase threatens to get to know the meter box in a biblical way. The top woman .[ I love that word. Top woman . Is it because she’s on top of everything ? There’s no such thing as top work. Work is work. Is it because shes top dog in this cluster you call home. Though you’re father thinks otherwise. He does’nt think he’s top dog. He thinks it’s your Mom. ] I digress. The top woman’s house is under water. So she hasn’t shown up for work. Understandably so.
Prayers are now being said to ask God to turn it off. Novenas to mitigate flood damage.
Anthony of Anthony’s Car and Body works is happy. Even the anti rust hasn’t been able to withstand the rain gods fury. The sun comes out. The dining chairs are swiftly emptied of wet clothes. And so it goes. Till the Duckback raincoats are re-powdered and put away once more. The wipers are put back into the dickie. And the fall of rainwater trickling down your open skywards turned mouth becomes a “Was I dreaming ? “ moment in the heat of Mumbai.


Floyd said...

My name is Floyd and I am a bandra bugger addict.
I am back on the juice. Clement Please do not take another hiatus. Keep the words on this blog flowing( like the Bombay Monsoon on St Pauls road.)Its official,I need my fix

Scribbler said...

What about San Anton men! Nobody takes him for procession and sing hymns so dat the rains'll come or what?

Good to see you back posting away.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Finally... It rains - TWO posts, too good...

Duck Back said...

Hello, I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wish you best of luck for all your best efforts.
Duckback Rain Shoes