Monday, August 9, 2010

Monsoon madness - Part III

Monsoon seems to have let itself loose on our country this year. Karachi, so far, is spared and even though the rain is playing hide and seek with us, the city has not had a damaging downpour.  Even as I write this, dark clouds have descended upon Karachi leaving us to guess and wonder when and where the rain will catch us.

So while the rain is creating mystery and the Pakistani cricket team is struggling to win the test match (or to lose it decently), I started to make a rainy list.

Rainy list – Item #1: Songs

Rain has a musical quality about it, both in its light and heavy form. Cloudy weather has a touch of romance, an effect created by the clouds blotting out the sun. A slight drizzle, especially after a hot spell, makes the heart sing. And what could be a better song than ‘Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head – and just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed – nothin’ seems to fit – those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’. The song was in the original soundtrack of the movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. A classic movie, featuring Paul Newman and a very young (and very handsome) Robert Redford.

 The song I absolutely love, rain or no rain, is from my most favourite film - Pakeeza. This is one film that must be in the list of ‘films-to-watch-before-I-die’ and in my case; I’ve watched it to last many life times! Sung by the great maestro, Lata Mangeshkar, ‘Mausam hai Aashiqana’ is one of the many amazing songs in this movie. The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful and it is the ultimate expression of love!

‘Phirtay hain hum akele, bahoon main koi lay ley
(I roam alone, someone take me in their arms)

Aakhir koi kahan tak, tanhayion say khele
(For how long can someone play with loneliness?)

Din ho gaye hai zalim, raatein hai katilaana
(Days have become cruel, nights are murderous)

Mausam hai aashiqana, aey dil kaheen say un ko, aisay main dhoondh lana
(The season is amorous, Oh my heart! From somewhere, bring my beloved to me!)

Mausam hai aashiqana
(The season is amorous)

[My apologies for the crude translation of the lyrics].

Rainy list – Item # 2: Books

Rain also has a lot of drama associated with it. Some books create an element of mystery around rain. Other times rain signifies gloom and tragedy. Still, other times, rain acts as a change agent for the protagonist, steering the story and characters through unchartered territory.

The Wayward Bus (John Steinbeck), which also was a part of my 15/15/15 project, was a book in which rain played a major role. I skimmed through the book again last night and realized, yet again, what a brilliant writer Steinbeck is and the pivotal role rain plays in it. Not only does it make the journey in the bus more arduous for the passengers; it also brings out the best and worst in them.
Rain features strongly in one of my favourite books, Trade Winds, by M.M.Kaye. Kaye creates a lot of drama in the very beginning of the book using rain. As Hero (who is the heroine of the book) is travelling to Zanzibar from England, her ship is caught in a fierce storm. Hero, by some act of fate (as we realize later in the book), falls into the sea and is rescued by the crew of the slave trading ship, Virago. The captain of this notorious vessel is Rory Frost, who becomes Hero’s rescuer; both literally and figuratively.

There are many other books and stories which come to my mind when I think of rain. Somerset Maugham is another author who has made use of rain amply in his writings. One of his short stories is titled ‘Rain’ which depicts the dark side of both weather and humans brilliantly. Rain also helps to create the sombre and heart breaking atmosphere in his book, The Painted Veil.

Authors, mostly, use rain to create or accentuate sorrow. Rain, though beautiful at times, is tragic in many ways also. Too much cloudy weather makes the world blue and blue is really not a happy colour!

Rainy list- Item # 3: Food!

Food is such an important part of our lives and especially in Pakistan, food is at the heart of all our festivities. Come rain and cloudy weather and every house is filled with the aroma of spicy pakoras, samosas and at times, the mouth-watering, lip smacking aaloo ka paratha. Accompanied by spicy coriander chutney (sauce) and hot tea, having pakoras as the rain pours is almost a part of our culture! And how could I forget the warm, bright orange, sweet jalebis which are so essential to have with big, potato filled samosas.

Rainy list – Item #4: Memories

As I watched the rain form puddles on our terrace last night, memories of our rain-filled vacations flooded in my mind. It is amazing how an event (dancing in the first monsoon rain of Karachi with cousins) can come back so clearly after so many years. I remember how we would wait for the rains to come in July, during our summer vacations spent in Karachi, so that we could splash around in our nano’s garden and porch. It seems so long ago now, as if we did it in some other life time. The rain dance and play would be followed by hot pakoras, or samosas with jalebi. Sometimes we had potato chips with tea. Those were the days!

Another rainy memory that I can never ever forget is the wedding of my very dear friend, Beenish. There is an old wives’ tale in our part of the world that a girl who eats from the cooking pot has a rainy wedding. Beenish must have done that a number of times for it rained and rained and rained during her wedding! And it wasn’t even a monsoon wedding because the monsoons come in July and she tied the knot in December!

One of the very recent memories of rain is of our honeymoon. As we drove through the lovely island of Langkawi, we were greeted with rain. It was alarming, initially, because I thought the rain would spoil our trip but as the days went by, we realized that this little drizzle is a part of the island’s beauty. And in this case, rain added to the romance of the place! This picture is on a restaurant we stopped at for lunch during our tour of the bat caves and fish farms in Langkawi. 

Rainy list –Item#5: Rubber pipe for car

Actually, this should be the first item in my list! Come monsoon and you’ll find almost all cars on the roads in Karachi with one thing in common – the rubber pipe fixed on their muffler. Makes the car look ugly but it’s better to have a blemish on the car (I’m being poetic here) than to have a beauty stuck in the water on the main road!

[I would have also added my Winnie the Pooh umbrella to this list but I’ve misplaced it and haven’t used it during these rains (a fact which breaks my heart!)].

What is your rainy list?

All Photographs except ours: Google Images