Monsoons approaching 🌦️⛈️

May has ended. And it is that time of the year when the news is brimming with expectations of Monsoons. In June, but when? The wait and anticipation are going to increase every day. Mumbai awaits the downpour. There is some hesitation as well, with the experience city has with Monsoons, year after year.

Like everyone else, I too, am waiting for the Rain Gods. This time more than previous years. As this time it promises a much needed change in status quo. Where days have been passing by since 3 months, very similar to each other, I believe we all can use a cool breeze and some splatter against our window.

This reminds me of a beautiful book by Alexander Frater – ‘Chasing the Monsoons’. This book accompanied me while I was doing some chasing of my own, traveling to Meghalaya, with ‘Meghdoot’ and ‘Chasing the Monsoons’ in my bag. Both Alexander & I found what we were looking for.

If I had to be a season, I would be Monsoons. Then Winter, followed by Spring, Autumn & Summer. I am already dreaming about those overcast Saturday mornings. Waking up to thunders in the distant red sky. Good music in the background. And retiring in a chair in a shade on the terrace, with a book for a company.

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Hiking in the Rain

We had an unexpected company as soon as we started our hike. The clouds which were forming up since last few hours had decided to let go, as the rains came down to greet us while we moved up the trail. It was not raining very heavily, nor was it too light to be discounted. Kind of perfect setting for a short hike early in the morning.

The streams on the way were also happy to see this new visitor. They cut across our path, singing happily and dancing down the forest. We could see few blue patches in the sky, but the clouds predominantly filled the canvas. They were not too solid, like the ones you see at times – huge boulders of black, throwing tantrums as they sluggishly moved forward. Nor were they too light – like a puff of smoke, at the risk of being blown away at the first sign of an intoxicated breeze. They were like a small hut made of mud, sitting happily in the fields, content to see things as they are.

And to talk about the trees. They were all chirpy and waving handsomely. There were more shades of green across the valley than I could name. The entire setup looked like Nature has maxed up on Saturation. It was a symphony of colors, playing right in front of our eyes. We moved away from the trail and started climbing up the path of a waterfall. Small jet of streams passing by served as a warning – Do not stay on this path for too long, as it was not made for you. We heeded to it, and switched to the human trail shortly.

We were looking down at the trail we came from. The path of the waterfall and the trail cris-crossed all the way to the bottom. It was difficult to make out one from other. And even though, while ascending, we were very sure of which was which, it all seemed to have blurred away into a single entity. They were different, yet they were the same. So were the streams. And the trees and clouds. And us.

Grandmother, tell me another story

Passing between lips, an ancestry reminiscent of
the chewed betel-nut grandmother transmitted
from recesses of her stained teeth onto palm of an
unlettered hand And again to my mouth.

Many years later I found myself teaching tradition
handed down by word of mouth. A cane basket we
put our socks in was stuffed with her stories.

It suddenly became a nest and
I flew with unknown birds, giddy and half asleep
seeking blankets of cloud in the maize field of the
mythical cat who sometimes ploughed the sky.



The cane basket disappeared when
a wooden cabinet took up residence
in our three-room house. Socks found a nest
and I began writing
the first few letters of the alphabet.

Myiem, where my ancestors prayed for their
deliverance from bitter winter,
where they wrestled with earth and stone
to script remembrances.

Today, lost and approaching fifty,
surrounded and imprisoned by books,
I sometimes murmur a prayer:
“Grandmother, tell me another story”



– I read this poem in the village of Nongriat, Meghalaya. These words took me back to my village of Ghazipur. The days when stories were an integral part of our life. Why did we stop telling stories?I could not find this poem online. I am looking for this book – Do let me know if you know this book. Thanks.

Chasing the Monsoons – Stories from Meghalaya 🌦️


“I learnt by getting to know the forest as a being, feeling its breath in the stillness of days, filling my lungs and my whole being with the freshness it inspires.”

26-May

It was partly one of those periodic urges to run away from the world, and partly the wait for monsoons that found me flying on a Saturday morning to Guwahati. Mumbai had been sweltering hot during the previous couple of weeks and even though the lack of sleep the night before should have dragged me down, I found myself wide awake, looking at the crimson shadowy morning, eager to keep moving.


I couldn’t keep up with the running white strands of the clouds, and dozed off peacefully. I was woken up by a sudden turbulence in the bus. Everyone was rushing out and their gaze made it very clear that it would be the opportune moment for me to do the same. The bus that I took to be going to Shillong dropped me at Paltan Bazaar, a busy market in Guwahati. It was 9 in the morning. The clouds had conspired for a showdown while I was asleep. The sky was dark brown, the clouds steady as a rock, refusing to move an inch. Full with anticipation, I continued onwards to Shillong in a shared taxi. The family sharing the taxi with me was not very keen for a conversation, and I too had similar feelings. We continued forward in peace, while the new landscapes ran past me. The brown urban mud soon gave way to green fields, marked by the colors of cattle and reminiscence of spring.

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Monachil to Granada

The bus ride from Monachil to Granada was marked by the panoramic view of the hills of Sierra Nevada. The colorful corners cut across the street which twisted and moved like a serpent. The homes, like little crayon boxes, were stacked one above the other, on the hilly terrain. It was like the white city of Nerja, just a little more colorful, and slightly less spicy.

The bus ride from Monachil to Granada is marked by corners like these, repeated until the destination.

I was caught in a state of trance looking at the map, trying to memorize the path to Calle Elvira from the bus stop. I was glad and anxious to go around without the GPS. The next bus to Monachil would leave in 2 hours and that is all the time I had to go to Calle Elvira, procure what I came for, and make my way back to the stop. When we got down at Granada, everyone else started moving towards Alhambra, while I crossed the bridge and continued forward to the Plaza.

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