A Monsoon Diary

by Julian Crandall Hollick
page 2

June 3rd: Tivari prefers driving at night. And it's cooler. So we left Delhi for Kanpur around 4 PM. On the old GT Road via Aligarh and Etah. We stopped at a dhabba for chai around 9:30 and the car wouldn't restart. Tivari eventually stuffed a rag in somewhere. And the engine, of course, then restarted immediately! Near Kanpur, quite a lot of tree limbs were down and the road was wet. The air was also much cooler. We were rattling along about half an hour behind a dust storm. Finally we reached Kanpur and got to bed around 3 AM. Now, we just have to sit, or sleep.....and wait.

June 5th: it's very muggy. The sky is like porcelain. Waiting for the monsoon in May and early June is exhausting. Shade shrinks and all but disappears. Gentle breezes become merely a memory. The sun never seems to go down. And it seems to lick the few drops of dew before the fevered earth can even moisten its lips. It just blazes away, all day long, in a cloudless sky, drying up every smidgen of moisture. Burning, scorching everything.

I've asked Indian friends how they survive this awful month. During the Rainy Season, Shahid Siddiqui's bedroom in his three story house in Delhi's Nizamuddin, shrinks and becomes a virtual one-room apartment. The entire family live, sleep and eat here all summer and Rainy Season. Why? Simple, because only this room has an air conditioner.

"You wait for it for so many months. As soon as the summers come in April, you start dreaming of the monsoon. April-May, heavy. The heat of June is killing. And you're waiting and waiting for the monsoons..... only a person who lives in India, specially north India, will understand what rains mean to a man who has to survive temperatures of 44 to 45 degrees Centigrade every day. So rains are beautiful."

Shahid grew up in a traditional Muslim area in the Old City. As a child, he was a peeping Tom:

"..People used to have their love sessions in those tehkanas, and we young boys and girls, we used to watch what was happening underground....in fact, lots of amorous meetings used to take place because all the people were underground during those hot summer days. But everybody was waiting for the monsoon, everybody was praying for the monsoon..."

Diary Pages:

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