As the humidity and heat of the Mumbai summer reaches unbearable levels, you can begin to feel a change in the air. Clouds are starting to creep across the city sky and linger, casting dark shadows over the sea. Even my rheumatic big toe is starting to pain me (always a sure sign that rain is on the way!) In fact, Mr Jules has already experienced a short and sharp downpour going across the Sealink on his way to work....and it's been the talk of the town. Much like the British start every conversation remarking on the weather, monsoon gossip is rife, with everyone - and especially the newspapers - trying to predict when it will start.
|View from the balcony at sunset - Mumbai is becoming cloudy and overcast which is good news.|
But what does the Monsoon really mean to the people of India? The rains can be a huge inconvenience to people in the city, but they also bring hope and rejuvenation - a chance to wash away the dirt and start anew. Not just important to rural folk, the whole country is reliant on the monsoon to quench parched land and produce a good harvest - and therefore decent food crops that everyday-people will survive on for the rest of the year. The economy is dependent on it. In the city, we also pray for a 'good' monsoon in order to keep water levels high and prevent water usage restrictions the rest of the year. A weak monsoon, in short, spells disaster for any country that depends on it.
Last year, I lived in fear of getting my feet wet and having them covered in goodness-knows-what from backed-up sewers. When you see how violently the rain comes down and how poorly the drainage systems cope - you will understand why I have now brought my wellington boots back from the UK! But this is selfish talk as I hate to think what slum dwellers living at ground level must go through every year - when rivulets of water can reach several feet high. And spare a thought for those who don't even have a slum property to live in and rely on the pavements and a bit of tarpaulin to make their homes.
But it's sweaty out there, so I am also personally looking forward to the monsoon breaking. Last year I didn't really take any photos of the downpours - which I find mesmerising - so this year I hope to get a few interesting shots.