I am in Mumbai and this is my 3rd monsoon here; a phenomenon marvel to be experienced that can be quite adventurous if caught in one of the many nasty downpours. It is also quite unique, unlike other places I have lived around the world, for it can rain nonstop for days. Not the steady rains of the equator or Americas, no, it is like buckets of rain being poured from heavens with frenzy; you hear the robust downpour on the roof and windows, intensity of it increasing and subsiding like the acceleration of a vehicle on a busy road. Farmers are relieved, tempers come down as the heat is finally overpowered, air-conditioners are rested, streets are colorful rainbows of umbrellas, and children don’t care, come out barefoot, dancing and splashing. Even stray dogs seem subdued and the fight for territory or fancied bitch is with lessened frenzy.
The British must be thanked for excellent infrastructure left behind, much of Mumbai still relies on it; by and large the water is accommodated in drainage systems unless the downpours coincide with high tides; then there can be some serious flooding issues. I remember the floods of about 5 years ago when the city came to a standstill for days and hundreds died. The local municipal establishment is so inept and corrupt; Mumbai would have drowned long ago but for the solid infrastructure inherited. Newer crop of leaders are trying to make a difference though, but it’s an uphill task.
These rains serve several purposes; remember, western India gets rains during the monsoons, usually June to September only; period when water tables get replenished, also life giving lakes and water catchment areas. Monsoons are a great cleanser of grime and filth that accumulates for 9 months, Mumbai has some mind boggling, retching filth communities and slums. The rains so far have been handsomely abundant and I am relieved. Although these downpours can snarl already chaotic traffic and cause mayhem commuting from point A to B, the shortage of rain last year were crippling to city water services. Poor areas suffered with 30% cuts in water supplies, the poor got hit with unbelievable spiraling cost of (purposely inflated) grain and vegetable prices and it was the poor and destitute that had to pay more for (hoarded) water supplied to slum communities.
Mumbai is taking a breather from showers today but the forecast is like a broken record from tomorrow onwards; heavy rains, 90F. US Consulate here in Mumbai have a circular out warning us to be vigilant on days when the seas are pregnant with high tides. I will sit tight and feast in the tail-end mango madness, last of season are totopuris and langraas; you have to try them to believe what delightful bounties Allah has given us….