Magic or Mayhem?

It’s that time of the year, again.  Rainy season will soon be here.

The monsoons have always been important to India.  It was so when we were primarily an agrarian economy.  And it is so even today, when the world is getting “Bangalored” by our low-cost, high-tech workforce!  Even in metro towns like Mumbai, the monsoons play an important role in addressing the burgeoning needs of its citizens and migrants alike.

As I was preparing myself for the onset of the monsoons, I was reminded of the times when the “rainy season” used to have a magic of its own…

The first showers of the year would bring many folks outdoors, to celebrate the gift of the rain gods!  School-going children would look forward to stomping puddles and getting wet, on their way back from school.  The radio would air songs and commentary on the Rain.  The nation’s most popular (and only!) TV channel – Doordarshan – would broadcast Chayageet specials during the Monsoons.  The streets would be washed clean.  And, Nature would come alive in a hundred shades of green!

Then, I started thinking about the way Life had evolved over the years… 

The city’s infrastructure had been bursting at its seams for quite a while, now.  Heavy showers would frequently throw the city’s lifeline – its suburban rail network – out of action.  Eventually, water-logging progressed from affecting low-lying areas to flooding arterial roads.  And, just when we thought things could not get any worse, 26/7 happened! 

I wasn’t sure if it was simply a case of me becoming more cynical over the years, or Life itself changing for the worse.  It felt like it was going to be a season of endless traffic jams, water-logged roads, hours spent commuting distances of a few kilometers, and getting wet in the bargain!  The “magic of monsoons” was not so appealing any more. 

Then, I recalled the Spirit of Bombay. 

Common folks volunteering to stand on submerged streets only to warn a passerby of an open manhole.  Traffic policemen and regular cops getting drenched to their bones, but standing their post to regulate traffic.  Strangers offering you their cellphones to call your loved ones and tell them you’re stranded.  Tea stalls and railway canteens offering free tea and biscuits after an especially bad downpour.  And, of course, carefree kids still stomping on puddles, on their way home…

Magic or mayhem?  You decide.

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