I was on the lakefront earlier today for my regularly irregular morning run and the weather was windy and warm. Before I knew what was happening, dark clouds gathered and it started pouring wildly. Large heavy drops that drenched me in no time. I reached my bike and pedaled as fast as I could. I was worried about my ipod, I was worried I’d catch a cold, my bike would get wet, I’d have to walk in wet underwear and soggy shoes, and… the list of worries continued.
“Wait a minute”, I said to myself, “What’s happening!?” I used to be a kid who loved playing in the rain, and the mud, and not worrying about getting drenched and dirty, and make fun of people who ran away from the rain. When did I become one of them?
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Mumbai has a distinct rainy season and it rains only between mid-June and mid-September. Rest of the year was dry. There was a special, almost a ritual-ish, significance attached to “first rain” (around mid-June). My mother encouraged me to go out when it rained for the first time, she said, “This is how you welcome rain! Smell the air, feel the wind, feel the nature!”
Oh, ha ha, rain is not dangerous, its just like taking a big shower!I was a little boy, playing in the dirt outdoors one day when it began pouring. My friend’s mother started screaming at the top of her screeching voice from the window of their house, “Stop playing! Come home! It’s dangerous!” My buddy (who was terrified of his parents because they hit him) ran away, while I was left puzzled. “Mom says its okay to play in the rain, so it must be okay!”, I thought, and continued what I was doing (probably digging a trench and replanting grass – I liked to pretend I was a farmer).
The rain grew stronger and washed away everything. I was upset that my ‘farm’ was destroyed, so I went home. I took a warm shower, clean up thoroughly and I changed into fresh clothes. It felt so good. My dad made me a cup of hot ginger tea and I told them about my friend. My mother said, “Oh, ha ha, rain is not dangerous, its just like taking a big shower! Too bad for your friend, his mother is overprotecting him.”
Later, rainy season meant only one thing – trekking in the Sahyadris. Every other weekend, a bunch of us gathered and went into the mountains. Geographically, western coast of India is similar to western coast of North America – there is a coastal strip, followed by a mountain range called the Sahyadris. Shivaji, our beloved king, built several forts on peaks of the Sahyadri range and hiking to those fortresses was our objective. We usually started before sunrise, or sometimes even on the previous night. At the end of the day, we were completely exhausted, dirty and wet with rain and sweat for hours. Next day was full of body aches and a hangover from yesterday’s thrills and exhilaration.
My ‘sheltered’ friend once asked me, “What do you do all day in the rain?”
Me: We climb a mountain, go to the top!
He: And then?
Me: We come back.
He: So why go in the first place? You get all wet and dirty, eww…
How could I explain to him the blissful feeling of being close to the nature, walking through the woods, in the dirt, around wonderful insects, bright flowers, foggy, wet weather and then reaching the peak, being on top of the world?
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With all those sweet memories flashing in front of me, I decided to dismount and walk my bike home, getting fully drenched in the rain on the way. After a nice hot shower, I made some ginger tea, exactly like my dad made it.