A Monsoon Diary

by Julian Crandall Hollick
page 8

June 23rd: It seems to be raining everywhere but here. But -- the wind's picking up. And you can tell the birds are agitated. So maybe something is finally going to happen! And inky-black clouds are racing in from the West. I want those clouds to rain directly on ME. Please clouds. Please!

Now, the Indian's attitude towards clouds is fundamentally different from that of the Westerner. To the one, clouds are symbols of hope. To the other of despair. The Indian scans the heavens, and if clouds blot out the sun his heart fills with joy. The Westerner looks up, and if there is no silver lining edging the clouds his depression deepens.... The Indian talks of someone he respects and looks up to as the great shadow, like the one cast by the clouds when they cover the sun... the Westerner, on the other hand, looks on a shadow as something evil and refers to someone of dubious character as a shady type.

Dark rain clouds are synonymous with Lord Krishna. In fact, one of Krishna's other names is Ghanashyam. Shyam means the Dark One. So when a woman sings to a rain cloud she might be singing about something else entirely!

O Shyam! I saw a rain-cloud bursting.
And I burst into tears myself.
The clouds massed black and grey,
And it rained for hours on end.
Wherever I look there's water, nothing but water.
My love, you've gone far away.
And here I am soaking wet
standing, just waiting for you!

June 26th: It has come! Around 2 in the morning. It must have started a few minutes before. I rush out and just watch the rain steadily accelerating, from under a lintel. I don't think I've ever seen so much rain coming so fast, so hard. In meteorological terms. The Monsoon is like a crab. There's a Western pincer that travels up the ghats before swinging inland over Rajasthan. And an Eastern pincer that rides up the Bay of Bengal, and then, in its turn, swings inland towards the Ganga and the heartland of northern India. Where they meet, there's a collision of almost cosmic proportions. And it seems to be right here, over Kanpur!

In the West, we have sheet lightning and the sudden clap of thunder. But here, it's rolling lightning, and rolling thunder. As if the Gods are playing a furious game of marbles. It never lets up, even to take breath. It just rumbles on and on and on. The sky is one vast film set. No expense spared. Free lights. No one bothering about the bill.

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