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In Praise of the London-Monsoon

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"I am fed up of this rain." My friend's seventy-year old mother who had just flown in from Norway continued, "summers are normally good in Scandinavia, but this year Oslo is just like London!"
"Oh! I actually find the rain quite... uh! Romantic" I replied softly, acutely conscious of how I must sound, as everyone in the room stared at me in disbelief.

That's it! Something in me snapped just then. And so, tired of the incessant complaints about the weather and the washed out monsoon-summer we are having here in the UK, to the sound of the raindrops pattering on the wooden decking outside my kitchen, I sat down to write this post, in defence of the perennial London rain. I am quite aware that in doing this I am flagrantly contradicting my adoptive British heritage, for I am actually going to look on the positive side. But really, am I the only one in this city who finds the gentle English rain uplifting?

Well here is my raindrop-prose which flaunts its umbrella at this season's downpour. I grew up in Bombay, where during the monsoon, the clouds absolutely opened up, and any umbrella was but a slender excuse to perhaps keeping the hair on your head somewhat dry--if you were lucky. After facing the fury of Bombay's legendary rainy-season, the rains in London feel like soothing dewdrops. You can see it, but you don't feel it here, not even when you walk bare-headed, eyes cast downward, cutting a path through the rainwater--somewhat like Don Quixote facing imaginary dragons. The first twenty-five years of my life were spent in weather which you could kindly term hot. Days depleted in thirty to thirty-five degrees celcius--in the shade--mind you, is not as much fun than it sounds. In the weeks before the rains brought relief to the overheated Earth, tempers frayed, the tar on the road bubbled, and stuck in the never-ending traffic, it was all I could do to stop leaping at the next thing-animal-person which passed by venting my rage.

The palpable frustration lingered heavy in the air, the brown mud groaning with the climax building up in the hearts and souls of the citizens, reaching for a nameless release; the pent up aggravation building higher and higher until when it finally seemed that I could not bear one more second of the sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes, stinging from the salt, closing against the glare of the ever-present sun, I would feel the phantom first raindrop on my overheated scalp, and would open my eyes to the grey clouds in the sky. The glimmer of smile on my lips would fade away, and for the next few days the skies would be pregnant with the promise of impending relief. Then one night to the hollering crash of thunder, lighting would tear its way through the virgin heavens and torrential rain would flash-flood everything in sight. That would be the only night I would sleep fanned by the cool winds from the Arabian sea, for the next I would squelching my way through the muddy rivers of the road outside my apartment block. Years later, I only carry the fragrance of the scorched Earth drinking in the first nectar of water and giving up the spirit of the summer past which has embedded itself somewhere in my soul. Fickle as it is, my memory has thinly glossed over the muddy-spattered, mucky bits.

Today, as I gaze at the fragrant roses in my garden, I never fail to marvel that flowers actually flower, casually popping up all over the place in spring and summer. I can actually grow flowers in London, imagine that? No more planting rose-stalks, then watering them, willing them, praying for them to grow, all the while knowing that I would be lucky to see one tiny beautiful bud unfurl--perhaps, before it withers away in the heat. Trees, bushes, weeds, wild-flowers, sunflowers, white & blue flowers, maroon & purple, they come alive all around me, thanks to the drip-drops of rain that tap their way through the stalks of green life. Their splashes of colour enliven the deepening dark of the evening, and yet I confess it is great when it grey outside for it actually means I can stay inside and write. As I step out onto the decking, holding out my palm out to capture some of the light drizzle, peering through the wall-of-mist at the city-foxes at the bottom of my garden, I shrug deeper into my fleece in mid-summer, and shiver slightly realizing (tongue-in-cheek) that this is probably why I am in a minority.

Perhaps like me you too secretly love the rain-in-summer-in-London? Do write in and tell me.

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