A walk to remember
It was a gloomy July afternoon as the clouds opened up to give way to heavy rain (even by Mumbai standards). The heavy downpour saw young men rushing onto the nearby field with a tattered soccer ball and playing in the rain. It also saw pedestrians scurrying away for shelter to avoid getting wet. It saw cars immediately turning on their wipers and headlights to get some eyes on the road ahead. The rain always brings such a contrast of actions, similar to how various people view the rain.
Some love the rains. For them, the monsoon is all about putting on warm clothes, having hot tea, having “Garam Pakoda” and running outdoors to play with friends. Some hate the rains. For them, this forsaken season is all about mosquitoes, getting your legs dirty with mud, floods and dirty water everywhere, sewers overflowing, not being able to play under the sun and worst of all :-
The last category of people are those who are too busy to have an opinion about the weather and who just go about their monotonous jobs like robots who always have their umbrella in their hand to cover themselves with when it rains.
Funnily enough, I’ve never been able to classify myself into any one of these categories. I have mood swings in which sometimes I love the warmth while having coffee when I come back home after playing in the rain. Sometimes I hate the feeling of mosquitoes clawing at my legs or hovering over my food as I sit in an open restaurant. And sometimes I’m just too engrossed in whatever activity I’m doing, that the weather outside doesn’t impact me at all.
I was sitting inside the neighborhood salon, waiting to find an Uber on my phone as it poured frantically outside. The Uber app was trying to “find a ride” for the past ten minutes and I was getting annoyed by the long wait. My phone’s battery was at 1% and I desperately hoped to get a cab before it died. My grandmother had given me a hundred rupees to buy two packs of agarbattis for her daily poojas at home. A headstrong yet lovable individual, my grandmother charmed me into doing this chore for her and I did not want to let her down.
My idle staring at the phone came to a sudden halt as the screen turned black. Now that a cab ride was off the table, I weighed my other options carefully. I could either take an auto rickshaw by using the money for the agarbattis or I could take the long walk home and buy them on the way back. It was a classic dilemma as I was torn between being selfish or selfless.
I decided to take the path less travelled and to walk in the rain. I had no idea what I was thinking as I did not know where the shop was or which direction I had to start in, I just travelled in the general direction of the Chembur Station where there is supposedly a shop for every occasion. Five minutes in, the rain which was starting to subside, suddenly came down in a violent manner. The roadside hawkers set into motion rapidly as they quickly put up a water proof cover on their goods to prevent them from getting wet. The landscape was filled with umbrellas again and dogs and people alike ran under shop roofs to get some shade from this onslaught from the heavens.
I did not have my umbrella so I allowed the incoming rain to penetrate my clothing and wet my dry skin. Clueless about the whereabouts of my destination, I asked one of the hawkers in Marathi where I could find agarbatti. He told me that I could find it opposite Geeta Bhavan Hotel, a well known eating joint in Chembur.
As I walked towards the shop, my idle mind was obsessed with the pattering of the rain on my skin and the gradual drenching of my skin. In that split second, instead of shying away from the practically harmless droplets, I embraced them and enjoyed each drop as it fell on me. I felt at peace with nature and the feeling was absolutely amazing. I felt like a little child fascinated by the rain or like the guys playing their hearts out on the field amidst the storms. I was in love with the moment and I let the motions pass by while I stood there and enjoyed. My undivided attention was on the rain. Writing about this experience as it rains outside my balcony, I can’t help but wonder how I could regard such a frequent visitor, an basic phenomenon so highly, but words cannot describe my feelings during that walk but as I purchased the agarbatti and walked back home to hot milk and my grandmothers kisses, I was certain that this walk would be etched in my memory for a very long time.