When I was up in Mussoorie for the writers festival, I ascended the hill in a dense early morning fog accompanied by a drizzle of rain. My taxi driver’s windshield wipers were not working, and he seldom wiped the windows with his fingers. The drive up is infested with cliffs and drop-offs and winding turns that just invite death.
Once I survived my near-death encounter with a car and some clouds, I was able to start taking pictures of this monsoon fog. I was beginning to mourn that I would come to the Himalayas and not be able to take a picture of these mountains.
On the second day I was rained on, drenched on, despite my newly purchased umbrella. That night, there was a storm so monstrously loud and long I was sure the sky was purging itself of all moisture. During one of those all-day winter rains I always imagine shooting a rifle into a sky and puncturing it with a hole big enough to just empty the clouds. This is what I was sure had to be done this time as well. My hotel room bed was directly underneath a skylight, and skylights in India are made of hard plastic. You get the idea of what the noise was like.
Sure enough, the next morning, I awoke to a much more impressive landscape.
In the north, the end of the monsoon comes as a welcome call partly because there really is no break between the monsoon’s arrival and withdrawal. In the south however, it hits, and stays for about a month as it travels north, then there is a few weeks break, ten it hits again as it comes back south. It hit in June, hung around until mid-August, then stopped for several weeks. While in Mussoorie in mid-September, I am pretty convinced I witnessed the finale of the monsoon withdrawal. Then, in late September/early October, it hit Kodaikanal.
The news articles state that the monsoon 2012 arrival was weak, but its withdrawal has come with heavy rains, flash flooding, and huge power outages. This seems to be the case here. Where it rained about 40% of the time sometime around noon to two in the afternoon during its arrival pass, it is now raining almost nightly, starting around dinner and sometimes lasting until the middle of the night, with heavy thunder and loud winds. A few days ago lightening hit and there were sparks in every room of the house some family member was in.
There is flooding in my aya’s house. It’s coming down the walls of her house. But she has no walls, not like what we think of as walls.
So whereas the arrival of the monsoon was sub-impressive, its withdrawal has sparked a desire for a poem.