There's something about the monsoon that triggers memories. As i was driving home yesterday trying to avoid the puddles on the road in case they were cover-ups for deep potholes, I passed by several carts of tender corn, makka buttas, and as the aroma of charcoal and slightly burning corn kernels followed me, i remembered....
Mahrookh and i used to walk along Parade Grounds on rainy afternoons, with fifty-paise coins given by indulgent mothers, fifty paise to buy whatever we wanted with. And what could fifty paise buy, in the mid 1970s? well, a lot, really. anything from ten sticks of vanilla ice cream to two 'rainbow' ice lollies to a few guavas sliced and peppered with chilli powder and salt, and, in season, tender light yellow buttas, the blonde strands of their fibrous coats still stuck to the cobs. "Kanvla wala dena," Mahrookh would insist. Until then, I had assumed that the darker the gold, the bigger the cob, the better the butta. But no, it was the lightest, smallest ones that were tender and almost juicy. And when roasted and smothered in lime and pepper and salt, they were the most delicious. And so, with our fifty-paise roasted buttas in hand, we would continue our walk, nodding at the old Parsi aunties who occasionally passed us by on their weekday promenade, chatting about this and that, complaining about our teachers and groaning and moaning about homework yet to be done. It was a great time to be fourteen. The world had not yet discovered the Internet or multiplexes. Television, if I remember right, had not yet made a space for itself in our living rooms, and of course, public spaces still belonged to the public at large. This meant that children could run and play in places like community gardens without fear of being 'scoped' by 'antisocial' elements, and teenagers could take long walks or ride their bicycles around town without fear of being knocked over by speeding lorries or MPVs.
I'm sure accounts of idyllic pasts before technology-as-we-know-it-now abound and I don't want to add to that, except to reiterate that things were simpler, joys were easier to discover, and parents had fewer fears about letting their children out to roam the streets!
But the rain tends to do that. It makes you wistful, nostalgic, and sometimes, just plain maudlin!
And as I write this, all traces of rain have vanished from the Hyderabad sky. Where has the monsoon disappeared? It continues to lash and nourish (depending on where you are placed and how you look at it) different parts of the country, but here, it has taken a temporary leave of absence.