A Monsoon Diary

by Julian Crandall Hollick
page 6

June 19th: Still no sign of the monsoon. And today is the day, according to the pandit, without fail... rain... or ...shine. It's been one of the worst days of this season, at least for this last week. One could easily say this was the worst day. Everybody felt the oppression. And coupled with the fact that there is a lot of electricity breakdowns, it was completely awful. One couldn't even rest, because the moment one lay down with a fan on, it would go off. Just six hours of electricity a day. That means no ceiling fans, no air conditioner, no computer, no battery charger, no telephone. The reason can't be the Monsoon. It hasn't even started! The probable culprits: an ancient and chronically overloaded distribution system, where one transformer blows on average a day, and, most probably, cuts from the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Generating Board which hasn't been paid by the city of Kanpur for over two years. This is their legal revenge, and, of course, all in the name of good economics and good government.

June 20th: Yesterday was a tease! It did not rain! And today it's very muggy again. This morning, I felt absolutely no get up and go. Like a plant without water. My assistant Indu says it's because I'm losing too many salts when I sweat. She told me to go out and buy lots of bananas. I did. I ate six. And I feel like a new man! Ready to face the heat and humidity again. But it would still be nice if I had a more reliable way of knowing when it is going to finally rain.

We take the car and head out towards Bhittur, where it's always cooler than in the city. We stop to talk to Mohan Singh, who farms forty five bighas, (20 acres) on the Kalyanpur Road. Mohan is doing some last-minute repairs to his tube well. By now I'm getting desperate. I don't know how much more of this summer heat I can take. In the paper I read how the monsoon has broken to our East and West. In fact, everywhere but here.

"As a farmer, how do you know when the monsoon is about to come? What are the signs?" Mohan Singh has a fail-safe method: "Ants! Ants carry their eggs to safety, this is the first sign that the monsoon is about to arrive. And these small frogs start coming out, and then obviously rain clouds."
"So if I see lots of ants carrying... eggs, and then lots of little frogs come out, then that means it is going to rain in twenty four hours?"
"Absolutely! It's a sure sign that the monsoon is on the verge of arriving."
"And what does today's weather tell you?"
"That it won't come soon! There's still time."
"Ten days, two weeks?"
"Hard to say. Right now, I have to irrigate the fodder for my cattle by tube well. I just can't depend on the rain!"

Diary Pages:

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