My fondest association with monsoon is in idyllic Dehradun, nostalgic memories of which act as perfect stress busters even today. Living in my mother’s mansion had its privileges. For one, you could always see the many moods of Mussoorie – the Queen of Hills – through the day or night by just peering over the boundary wall and looking up to the nearest cluster of clouds on your right. Trying to spot Muss (that’s what the hill station is called in local parlance) in the peak of monsoon wasn’t easy but certainly a lot of fun. Raindrops tingling my head in misty Mussoorie as I walked the length of scenic Camel’s Back Road was also an oft-repeated heady romance that brutally ended when on one such trek I was horrified to discover a leech crawl up my ankle.
Walking barefoot on the freshly rained-upon soft, velvety front lawns at home is an experience that gives a long run to squishing sand in between your toes at some touristy beach.
One of the nicest things about my mother’s abode is its big windows with a view on every side. After having worked with the hospitality industry for more than two decades, I can tell you authoritatively that hotels charge a premium for a good view. So imagine rooms with wonderful views all my growing up years. My mother had nimble green fingers and we seemed to enjoy, amply, the fruit of her labour. She had developed her backyard into a mini orchard with myriad fruit trees – mangoes, peaches, plum, pears, apples, litchi, grapefruit, papaya, even grapes – that provided shade from the summer sun, swayed to the spring breeze, shed their coats in autumn and lent that extra chill to the winter.
But it was monsoon when they looked their prettiest best. Freshly scrubbed, in lovely shades of green, either cradling crystal clear pearls on their belly or with rows of diamond-like raindrops hanging from their edges!
It doesn’t take the eye of an artist to appreciate this breathtaking sight. If I was deft with the brush then you would have seen several canvases titled RAIN in my home studio. But I chose to sing an ode to it right from the time of amateurish poetry to the time when as a professional creative writer with India’s greetings card giant I sold mush to couples in as far and wide places as India, Europe, and the Americas.
Another nice monsoon sight is the lovely white wildflowers that take over a full hillside or come up around brooks. The off-white wild mushrooms along the grass or by tree trunks are quite irresistible too. I remember picking the flowers and the mushrooms in my cane basket and bringing them home. They would sit pretty in a corner as I would get lost in my Enid Blyton or Lewis Carroll through the afternoon with the big toadstool, typically, assuming a character in my favourite story.
Monsoon is also about food. Who can resist the wafting aroma of hot pakoras or delicious samosas to be devoured with tangy mint chutney and a piping hot cup of tea? Back home I would often bake the most luscious of sponge cakes (and I do have the nicest of recipes) on a rain-soaked afternoon. The smell would engulf the whole house, as I would bring the cake out to the kitchen table, drive a knife through the hot center and serve it with melted chocolate. These days I do hot aubergine slices with salsa toppings or baked cheese on potato dices with a dash of oregano and chilli peppers. The result is as mesmerizing.
The rainy season is once again here. Delhi may still not be up to it with constantly irritating constructions happening everywhere. But a short sojourn to Doon over a wet weekend is certainly within our reach.
Anybody who wields a pen almost always has a book in them. So, come rains and I am off to the family pad in my favourite valley succumbing to the muse in the lap of inspiration in Nature’s inimitable style
And what’s your dance in the rain going to look like?