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Monsoon Magic

>> Thursday, June 9, 2011


I came home hearing the news that the monsoon has arrived. I was excited to come home at this time, because it is my favourite season. From the time I came I was waiting for the heavy down pour, but nothing came, except the occasional drizzle. The sky looked dark and cloudy lighting up my hopes. And I am still waiting for that magical music of rainfall.












For me, monsoon is a word that stirs up my fondest childhood memories. Monsoon mornings bring an invigorating smell of damp earth, budding leaves, knee-deep water, crisp air, and ominous clouds rolling across the sky. We woke up at dawn to the sounds of rain water gushing through the drains into the courtyard. And to the drumming of rain drops on the tin roofs. Frequent lightning and thunder across the darkened skies, and I would fearfully take shelter in my Amma’s arms. Bathing in the heavy shower was near ecstasy, and Ammachi would warn me, not to catch a cold. We walked and waded our way to school and back, with overturned umbrellas and dripping wet skirts and knickers. We would peek through the school windows wondering why it was not raining then, and when the school bells would ring to let us go home earlier. The raging winds would make the palm trees sway like willows. And the fun we had in the evenings making paper boats with old newspapers and floating them in the water which had formed puddles and streams. The boats would dance their way to oblivion.

The terms 'monsoon' is derived from the Arabic word ‘ mausim ’ which means a time or a season. A monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind which lasts for several months. Monsoonal rainfall is considered to be that which occurs in any region that receives the majority of its rain during a particular season, and so monsoons are referred to in relation to other regions such as in North America,  Brazil, Sub Saharan Africa and East Asia. Monsoons are caused by the larger amplitude of the seasonal cycle of land temperature compared to that of nearby oceans.. As monsoons have become better understood, the term monsoon has been broadened to include almost all of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycle within the tropical and subtropical land regions of the earth.

South West monsoon winds bring rains to Kerala, Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The rest of India receives rains from North East monsoon winds. The monsoon season in India is generally from June to October.
Monsoon season is also a season when creativity blooms. Poets give expressions to their feelings by writing poems on the rains. They also describe the magical effect it has on the earth. One Marathi poet writes, "The earth looks as fresh as a young lady who has just taken her bath".

That rain is gloom and sunshine happiness is metaphorical rather than scientific, though it rings true because we humans are inherently sympathetic to our environment.. Barring a mood disorder, our emotions are not casualties of the weather.

Balan’s post " MonsoonDepression" prompted me to say something more about the ‘rainy’ mood.

Since many years, researchers have sought to confirm a relationship between weather and temperament. Predictably, the lion's share of studies correlate a low mood—episodic depression, lack of  energy—with high humidity and limited exposure to sunshine. Spirits tend to rise with increased time in the sunshine. In October of 2008, a group of European researchers examined the impact of six different daily weather factors—temperature, wind, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure and length of day—on more than 1,200 participants from Germany, most of them women.

Contrary to most prior research, the study's central conclusion was that the average effect of "good" weather on positive mood was minimal.  "People differ in their sensitivity to daily weather changes."Some people's emotions are simply more vulnerable to weather changes than others. Someone prone to a low mood on dark, cold days will likely experience a depressive winter when there's a prolonged string of like-weathered days".

Our lives are inseparably linked to the monsoon. Indian music is also associated with rains. It is believed that singing the 'Raag Malhar' brings the rains. We also associate the arrival and singing of cuckoo and the dancing of the peacock with the onset of monsoon.

There is a scene in Mira Nair's sensuous film, Monsoon Wedding, in which the Delhi sky opens to let out a torrential downpour that is the Indian monsoon. That scene, and its accompanying song, Kawa kawa kawa, captures the many moods of the monsoon.... gutters becoming streams..... drenched women in yellow saris running for cover.... vermilion powder streaking down from a man's forehead. There is some sensuality about the rain scenes which triggers your hidden fantasies.

In spite of all its problems, monsoon is the favorite season for all. Monsoon is my favorite season, for sure. Its magic engulfs and encompasses one and all. Crisis such as floods brings out the best in each one of us. It brings about a spirit of co-operation, even among animals!


Two things unite all Indians, be they rich or poor, rural or urban, Hindu or Muslim... an innate desire to be hospitable and a love for the monsoon. The monsoon is a meteorological event, yes, but for Indians, it is also a seasonal life giving cosmic force. We sustain and survive on it. People pray for it; festivals are celebrated around its occurrence; movies and music are inspired by it. Along with spices and colour, temples and festivals, the smell of the monsoon is part of the Indian collective unconscious, evoking nostalgia in even the most hardened souls. The Indian monsoon, for anyone lucky enough to have witnessed it, and lived and grown with it, is a magical memory, to stay forever.


Courtesy: None of the pictures posted above are mine. I have borrowed from the net, buzzintown.com/peppertrail.com.
  

32 comments:

anilkurup June 9, 2011 at 1:08 AM  

Doc,
Borrowed or otherwise the pics only increase the longing for some good showers, what we know of monsoon of the past .No apologies to Balan, as he knows well the antidote for depressions and lousy moods be it on a hot summer day or a damp cold rainy monsoon night.
I ‘m tempted to start typing those monsoon reminiscence from many years ago while shunted off on vacation to Ambalapuzha (where my father’s sister lived).
I noticed yesterday that a book I bought long ago from a street side hawker in New Delhi was missing from my shelf and, I walked into DC and bought a new copy. I browsed through some chapters I read long ago while comprehending little and here is a sample which would be appropriate for the discussion on monsoon and monsoon moods.

“Rain on a dry land is an extraordinary thing, is it not? It washes the leaves clean, the earth is refreshed. And I think we all ought to wash our minds completely clean, as the trees are washed by the rain, because they are all so heavily laden with the dust of many centuries, the dust of what we call knowledge, experience”
J. Krishnamurthi

Meera Sundararajan June 9, 2011 at 1:46 AM  

Lovely...!!! I grew up in West Bengal where the monsoons are equally active -the Bay of Bengal Current of the SW Monsoon hitting us in June. Unfortunately the NE monsoons lack the romance that the SW brings with it. Indian poetry and music derives a lot from the monsoons. Remember the song from Lagaan "Ghan Ghanan Ghanan"- Raag Malhaar is associated with the rains. Every time I hear it I can almost smell the damp earth...!!! I cannot imagine why anyone would write a poem that says "Rain Rain Go away"- thanks for this lovely post. Took me back in time !

Bikramjit June 9, 2011 at 1:49 AM  

Sir beautiful pics , borrowed os what , you took time to find them and we saw them together ..

you are home does that mean you gone to india ..

Monsoon always reminds me of the famouse gazal who barish ka paani woh kagaz ki kishti ..

rains brings the child out ..

Bikram's

Balachandran V June 9, 2011 at 5:30 AM  

As a born and bred Malayali, I too love Monsoons, but like you surmised, my depression was not due to the rains but of the month of June when I lost my parents.

The verbal images that you have painted are the same for most of us of the older generations. But enjoy as we might in the comfort of our house, rains bring along misery to many. I remember the flooded paddy fields and the dilapidated huts and the schools turned to temporary refugee camps. Like everything else, Monsoon too has its misery and happiness. Beautifully nostalgic post, Doc.

Madhu June 9, 2011 at 7:44 AM  

I think Kerala is truly heaven on earth doc. I have been to a couple of places in Kerala..One was Kovalam. We stayed there in a nice hotel which had its own private beach and I had the opportunity to go backwaters. It was drizzling, nice flowers everywhere. We also stopped in one very small island where a lady us fish fry. By far thats the best fish fry I ever had in my life!

Love your state. specially in monsoon.

IRFANUDDIN June 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM  

Lovely post Sir....

i remember when we used to just rush out n enjoy the first rain during our child hood....just miss those days, now can only enjoy from my window.

regards,
irfan.

Tracy June 9, 2011 at 9:11 AM  

its perspectives like yours that make me love India without ever having stepped foot in this magical piece of the planet.
the new look of your piece of cyber space generated a very deep smile.. lovely.

Tomz June 9, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tomz June 9, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

This is the third post today which i read about seasonal changes..In some other parts f the world it is now the shift to summer..

Harman June 9, 2011 at 12:37 PM  

Wow... rainy season...it reminds me of many songs of bollywood ..I love getting drenched and sipping hot coffee...love it..
I once wore a white dress and it rained like anything ..when I cam home I was not surprised why people were staring at me with those big dark patches of mud on dupaata and churidaar...
it still makes me smile.

AS June 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM  

Hello Sir

very nice and informative post i must say. Loved the photographs esp the last one :)

NRIGirl June 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Rain does wonderful things, does it not? Especially bringing back out childhood memories...

Good try with the new look. Does it stay?

Renu June 9, 2011 at 9:18 PM  

lovely pictures..to me rainy season is so romantic, and fun to enjoy with tea and pakoras.

Jay June 9, 2011 at 11:04 PM  

monsoon n rain r my favorite too..nice write up doctor..:)
Tasty Appetite
Event: Letz Relishh Ice Creams

Cloudia June 10, 2011 at 12:03 AM  

you beautifully express the joy blessing of rain!



Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

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Shadow of my life June 10, 2011 at 1:06 AM  

another lovely post from your briefcase of thoughts :)feeling so good after reading this refreshing post. keep'em coming!!

Insignia June 10, 2011 at 3:48 AM  

A lovely blog template.

Your visual description makes me want to go back to such times. I remember my vacation 2 years back. We wanted to go to Goa but due to heavy rains, the roads were broken and we couldnt get to Goa. But we did have nice drive in the rains and the smaller place that we stayed. Rains, the sea, the pitter-patter rains on the tin roofs, people walking with umbrella and wading through knee deep water...wonderful!

Juxtaposition June 10, 2011 at 4:20 AM  

Loved the template. I was thinking of changing mine too...soon. :)
Monsoon is my favourite too! I just love to sit on the steps at the entrance and listen to the rain FALL. Its simply musical. Rain can cause a lot of problems too. But what in life doesn't? Even simple and plain LOVE can cause someone's downfall.
Keep being an optimist, life will ultimately smile back. :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys June 10, 2011 at 8:20 AM  

I just loved this post! It's interesting to hear what emotional responses monsoon season can stir up in you. I also loved Monsoon Wedding and the accompanying song!

My mood is definitely linked to the weather, and I tend to be exceptionally grumpy on (many) darker days. I don't mind so much if the weather is largely fine with the odd rainy day, but a whole string of them, especially in summer, depresses me.

And what a wonderful picture of the mouse riding on the frog! How strange that the different species should help one another in this time!

sm June 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

beautiful pics
yes everyone wait for the first drops of rain and childhood memories we recall.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog June 11, 2011 at 5:33 AM  

Dr. A,
This is another insightful post, full of interesting information, and heartfelt words, as it brings memories from my childhood. I love the rain. It makes me want to write when it rains :-))

I always find interesting the discussion about Seasonal Affect Disorder. I see you referred to a study with low findings on association between "good weather" and "positive mood". In my experience in the nursing home, I have observed some kind of association between increased on behavioral issues/mood changes and certain times of the year, especially during the winter.

I really like your new blog template.

Thank you Dr. A. for visiting my blog, and for your kind comments. They are very much appreciated.

Doris

RonJoe 'Geezer' June 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM  

Yikes! I'm glad we don't have monsoon rains around here! We have enough problems coping with an occasional earthquake every once and a while.

Anil P June 11, 2011 at 7:49 PM  

Having seen Goan monsoons very closely, can imagine the one in Kerala. So long as there's much natural beauty and the channels drain off into rivers, the sight is memorable. The first picture showing the tree and canoe is lovely.

Monsoon regenerates the earth, sustaining us over the next cycle, and is very enjoyable if you are not in the city where it throws everything off gear.

Alexander Frater wrote a very readable book titled "Chasing The Monsoon" and so also the photography series that Steve McCurry published on the monsoon - both eminently readable.

Happy Kitten June 12, 2011 at 5:16 AM  

Monsoon can make one very nostalgic.. nd your post and the lovely photos transported me to Kerala and the lovely monsoon... waiting to board the plane and enjoy a bit of it...

Loved the header... such a lovely color.. from your own frames?

Rachna June 12, 2011 at 8:24 AM  

Great pictures and monsoons have a special romance in India. I love the new look of your blog, doc.

dr.antony June 13, 2011 at 6:29 AM  

@Anil
You can still do it,Anil.One can write endlessly on fond memories.
@MS
yes,I remember the song too.Anything related to rain is something special.About that song....that was only because little Johny wanted to play!
@Bikram
I have that song too.That is a lovely one.
@Balan
I guessed it.Knowing you, I know how the season brings you back in memories.
@Madhu
During summer,the weather is terrible.For that matter we dont have another season than the monsoons. The rest of it is all hot,like people there!
@Irfan
The fondest memories are the earliest ones!
@Tracy
You are welcome to the magic and reality !
@Tomz
I am not surprised.Some of us have such strong connections to it.
@Harman
That is what I wanted to do exactly.Sipping coffee, with tapioca chips and bites of fresh coconut,and pouring rains for company!
@NRI girl
Good question. I dont know. I will tell you why in the next post!
@Renu,Jay,
Isnt it good to have such memories?
@Cloudia
Welcome to the blog.
@Shadow
We all live in the shadow of such memories.
@JP
Yes,more often than due to the rains !
@Insignia
The roads are in much worse shape in Kerala.Two days of rain,and they are all flooded. Have to plan well in advance.It is good if you can just sit back and enjoy,with nothing else to do.
@Emily,
Necessity and natural instincts ! They dont have lasting rivalry like us.
@SM
How true!
@Doris
I didnt want to go in to the medical part of it.I had mentioned it in Balan's post.Thanks for bringing it up.
@Joe
Aha.. Occasional earth quakes !
@Anil
I am sure you can bring out monsoon stories more colorfully. I will try to see that book.
@HK
I got the template from the net.Do you want to try some like that?
@Rachna
Thanks, I am not sure about the change.Glad you liked it.

AS June 13, 2011 at 7:31 AM  

where is reply to my comment?

:(

dr.antony June 14, 2011 at 8:26 AM  

@A S
I am really sorry. Was not intentional. I liked the last one too.

AS June 14, 2011 at 10:26 AM  

yes sir , i know that was by mistake :)

English Tutor October 11, 2011 at 8:18 PM  

Life isn't finding shelter in the storm. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Online Stores October 12, 2011 at 12:16 AM  

It's not anymore about how you let the storm of your life pass.....but it's about how you fight against the storm with God.

Freight Agent October 28, 2011 at 2:22 AM  

We are now paying for all the bad things that we've done to our environment. I hope people will realize on how to value and give worth our mother earth and to save our future generation.

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