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Mumbai Monsoon Redux

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” 

― Bob Marley

A week after my trip to New York, I found myself back in Mumbai for a short business visit.  It brought back memories of the previous two monsoon seasons that I had spent there.

I never waste a visit. So while the business side of the visit was intense, that did not mean that I could not manage to spend a few hours catching up with favorite friends, favorite haunts and the weather, frizzy hair and all.  🙂

As in previous monsoons, the vegetation had taken a bath and looked exceedingly clean, green and fresh. Beautiful!  

The roads had had a nice body wash too, so although the potholes were profuse, at least the roads looked relatively cleansed.

But the unique smell of Bombay had not gone anywhere. If anything, it had acquired new powers. 🙂

I don’t know what it is, but there is certainly something about Mumbai and the monsoon. They seem to have a mutual admiration thing going on.

It makes me want to say, ‘nice to be here’. But (just to be clear), only for a very short and sweet visit!

Typical of the season, I received a warm and ultra-sultry welcome to the city when I arrived.

This was accompanied by a wet, wet, wet, rain-drenched monsoon goodbye just a few days later at the packed (I mean packed!) international airport. It was the icing on the cake, so to speak, that made the entire seasonal experience hard to forget. Good, bad and ugly coexisting without a blink – that’s the incomparable Mumbai for you.  Indeed.

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The short visit helped me capture just enough Mumbai monsoon snaps for the memory bank.

[Click on one to see a slideshow].

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” 

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Mumbai Monsoon Madness 2012 Begins

A couple of weeks or so ago on the day that I was leaving India to go home for a short visit, it started raining cats and dogs in Mumbai. The timing was right so I figured that the monsoon season of 2012 had officially begun that day.

But during the two week period that I was away, whenever I called the office or my driver in Mumbai to check up on things, I would ask – is it raining? and the answer was always: No. Puzzling!

Then, I returned. On the day of my return, and for a few days after that, guess what? Rain, pouring rain, and more rain! I guess I’m good for something in Mumbai. 😉

But can someone who is more at home here enlighten me please, about the Mumbai-monsoon chaos? The season itself is remarkably regular, like clockwork almost, give or take a few days. Every year, Mumbai monsoon arrives in June and it rains relentlessly for four months. Every year. (And I assume it has been this way for…centuries).

So, how come Mumbai and Mumbaikars are surprised and overwhelmed by it every, single darn year?

How come Mumbai is always caught unprepared for the rain?  

Resulting in its people being forced to endure this way of life –

  • crawling vehicles for miles on end (my usual 15 minute commute is now taking an hour or more)
  • traffic jams so bad – the likes of which you never see in the dry season (even as bad as those are)
  • water logged streets (in the same damn places every year!)
  • potholes
  • more potholes
  • many, many more potholes!

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[To get some relief from this, the only advice I can come up with for the frustrated and stymied commuter is don’t look down. Look up instead, so you can admire the beauty of Mother Nature – the rain, the clouds and the bright green, clean leaves].

You would think that after centuries…or even decades…of being super acquainted with the arrival and challenges of this season, there would be some level of preparedness by the city authorities! This is not rocket science after all.

But noooooooo….

Instead it’s time for Mumbai to be ‘surprised’ by the monsoon yet again this year. (And year after year after year…).

Worse still, why and how do the hard-working, tax-paying citizens of Mumbai put up with this s**t? Other than some bashing by mainstream media, I have not seen much from people beyond general head-shaking and muttering about inconveniences. Where is the collective anger and outrage? Where are the riots and revolts? Why are people so accepting and passive about what amounts to government malfeasance that occurs year after year?

I can hear you now…I’m just a short-timer and expat, what do I know?

Well, I guess it’s just time to shut up and endure another installment in the long-living saga – welcome to the 2012 edition of Mumbai Monsoon Madness.

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Shifting Gears

Enough about that. How about getting some relief from all this pothole-talk…

Just sit back, relax, get in a different kind of Mumbai monsoon mood, forget about all that chaos I described (I want to!) and enjoy this brilliant music (thanks Eurythmics). I mean it. Really enjoy!

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In case Bollywood is more your cuppa tea and only it can put you in the right frame of mind to savor this season, here’s one for you too. Carefully selected, it’s a vintage monsoon melody, with the backdrop of the city, circa 1979 – a relatively pristine and uncrowded yet waterlogged Bombay:

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And simply because I’m in a much better mood now, this one’s a bonus, from 1942 Love Story, capturing all the simple pleasures of love…and  rain:

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Aaaah, I feel so much better already.  You?

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