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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Listen to the falling rain...

Listen to the falling rain, listen to it fall...

For those of us who grew up in the seventies, this song by the visually impaired singer Jose Feliciano may bring back many memories of monsoons past. Having just returned from rain-lashed Bhubaneswar, and inundated by reports of a rain-battered Mumbai, the sound of the rain brings a mixed bag of memories.

A good friend said that the sound of the rain is the same, no matter where you are, so it's hard to forget. But I wonder. The rain has a different rhythm at different times of year, when it falls on different surfaces, and when it curtains different landscapes. The rain on a beach in Goa is both poetic and devastating, coconut palms bending submissively to the force of the lashing sheets of water. The rain that washes the PVC hoardings that otherwise beam seductively at distracted drivers on the main roads of Hyderabad is a harsh reminder of the transcience of urban desire. And the rain on the slushy, potholed roads of Chennai's vegetable bazaar is messy and therapeutic, forcing us to drag our mud-soaked heels through waste of various kinds.

And of course, the rain in Mumbai will forever raise the ghost of July 2005, when children were held hostage in schools, when old people who had beds drew their tired and fragile feet up to their chins and hoped for a reprieve before the water reached the base of the mattress. And the old people who had no beds lay back and hoped for escape, or rescue. When mothers searched and fathers and brothers and sisters searched under the deluge for news of their loved ones; when people held hands to draw neighbours and strangers to safety, when memories were washed away, only to rise each year with the falling rain....

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