I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday with the feeling that it was raining outside. I could faintly smell the wet dirt and my skin felt the moistness in the air. Monsoon is here, I thought to myself. But then I took a second or two to take a closer look of my surroundings.
It was dark and I was curled up on my twin mattress under the warmth of my comforter. The windows were shut and covered. There was no rain outside. There was no lightening. This was not Bombay. This was Jersey City. There’s no monsoon here.
Living a quarter of a century in the same city, you get attuned to the changes in the weather. Your skin almost predicting the changes in season more accurately than the weather forecasts on the news channel. I stared at the ceiling for a few minutes thinking about the inexplicable joy felt after the first rains of the monsoon. What was it that made us so happy?
On rainy days in New York, most folks are grumpy and want to skip any outside activity altogether. Children don’t get excited at the prospect of rain. “You’ll fall sick. Come back inside. Don’t get wet,” they say.
No one’s out in playgrounds wrestling with each other or playing an impromptu game of soccer. No one is reaching out of their umbrellas to feel drops of rain on the palm of their hands. No one peeps from under the shelter of a parapet to look up in the sky and smile at the feel of cold drops of water. Lovers don’t share umbrellas and search for excuses to huddle in close proximity. Moms don’t have piping hot masala chai waiting for you at the dining table once you get back home. No one’s sitting in their balconies listening to classics on the radio while they stare at the pedestrians wading through the flood of water in the streets.
None of that happens here.
My friend and I were walking down the neighbourhood on one such rainy afternoon and I exclaimed, “Isn’t it beautiful today?” and he paused for a moment and said, “What’s wrong with you? It’s so depressing outside.”
I guess, cloudy skies will always have a different association for different cultures.
I want to get outside and drench in the rain, have a small talk with the rain gods while sleeping on the luscious green grass in Central Park. It should rain and rain until it feels like Bombay. It should rain until it feels like home again.