It’s that time of the year when I ache to be anywhere but in an office, feeling the tug of the breeze on my face, the burst of impatient rain. To be drenched in the news of the sea that the monsoon brings ashore. So much for dreaming. I’m still here. Clacking away on a keyboard, conjuring up visions. So share my pain. With monsoon Instagrams.
These are fond Instagram memories of monsoons previously experienced. Click to go to the original image.
(Note that being a grammar Nazi I never use the plural monsoons unless intended)
1. The wait
In the dry season two months before the southwest monsoon’s onset, the Chalakudy River flows placidly in the forests of the Anamalais. It will be a different beast when the clouds roll in.
2. Early days – dark sky, plenty of wind, less rain
Ramanagaram is one of the last places near Bangalore where you can witness the march of the monsoon clouds, unmolested. Like a phalanx the clouds advance, rolling. Wisps crash into each other, merging. Dark banks follow. A patter of rain. A short cloudburst. And then back to the theatre of promises unkept.
3. Rainforest moods
It is here, in Agumbe, that you can feel the full force of the monsoon. At first it is not a battering gale but a swell of sky, laden thick with moisture. The moisture permeates everything. It digs deep and plunges roots. It’s a chorus of frog calls, moss and fungus thereafter wherever you look.
4. Listen to the wind, to the wind
Who has seen the wind, asked Christina Rossetti, in a quatrain that ended with the truism: “When the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.”
Watching the crowns of the areca palms across the fallow field in Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, we’d know the rain was approaching. A fine mist would envelop them and then the torrent would lash down upon us, pricking our skin like so many sharp needles.
5. Foaming at the mouth
The sea knows when the monsoon is due. This is the other monsoon – the northeasterly wind that blows in October after it is spent in the Himalayas. It does enough damage, though, blustering on its course through the eastern coast unfettered by the low rocky hills of the Eastern Ghats that are no match in heft for the massifs of the Western Ghats. Here, on the coast of Tamil Nadu, the monsoon heaves and swells. Fishermen, cautioned, know well to keep away.
6. Where the rain is at home
It rains nine months of the year in Meghamalai, a high-range station in the High Wavy range of the southern Western Ghats. These hills are named for the clouds that seldom leave it be. Both monsoons – a perfect occasion to use the plural to good effect – lash the hills with gusto. This is a wild place, turned less so by tea plantations. Remote and almost inaccessible, it is a place that only the clouds can reach without effort. Only they are truly at home there.
7. The aftertaste lingers
Much as I love the rains the monsoon brings, I love the dramatic skies it leaves as it departs. Those confused stacks of nimbus and cirrus, of status and cumulus, all mixed up and muddled.