Thursday, March 30, 2006


Of all things physical that can trigger a snowfall (avalanche is somehow so not fitting) of memories inside me, rain's got to be the most potent.

I was reading a blog the other day, and there was a mention in it about Pune, and that's all it took. From Pune, my thoughts went to rain, from rain to windows, to perfectly shaped raindrops, to sweaters with moth-eaten holes in them, to hot coffee, back to rain ... You get the drift.

Pune was where I spent two of the most wonderful weeks of my life. We were on this 15-day training trip. It was during the peak of the monsoon and the place was practically inundated then. Yet the rain was not the constant, purposeful, boring rain you would expect, it had character to it, if you know what I mean. My memories of those days resonate with the drum and feel of the rain in the background -- it's like you have chocolate ice-cream for dessert on your first date, and every time you remember that fateful (ahem!) day, flavouring the associated memories is this bitter, viscous taste flooding your salivary glands.

It was a time when I was free in the truest sense of the word. No expectations. No future to get anxious about. Footloose and free. And yes, there was this wonderful girl I met on the trip who seemed to find my jokes amusing -- and hence, I'd like to believe, she found me err nice(you can drop that quizzical look, she's married now and that's that). The best was when we were in class, and there was a power cut. So, the sincere trainees that we were, we lit candles and were discussing, and I happened to look at her when she was speaking. Of all the enduring images of feminine beauty I've had opportunity to witness in my life, the image of her face, lit by the flickering flame from the candle, her pink cheeks glowing in the otherwise dark room, will probably endure more than the others. Surreal she was, and needless to say I wasn't listening to what she was saying, sincerity be damned. Freedom, rain, companionship -- couldn't get better than that, I guess.

I never really thought of myself as a rain person. Rain was just one of those things I never had an opinion about, like flowers for example -- yeah they smell and look nice, so what? Like that ... But then rain has this damp, persuasive way of seeping into the convoluted currents of your consciousness, just like flowers again. To me rain was like some of the people we run into in our lives. We see them a lot, spend time together, discuss stuff, have a few laughs, but then we go back to our homes and our lives and that's it, we cease to think of them till we meet next. And then one day, during one of those encounters, somewhere, you strike a chord, and suddenly, that person, or at least that 1-dimensional perception you have about that person acquires that extra 2-D, a little shape here, a little colour there, and before we know it, they are there, in our lives, embedded in our undulating thoughts, and they stay there for life, even if we no longer meet them. Rain is like that to me.

There is nothing more intoxicating than standing before a window, watching those grey, brooding clouds approach ominously from the very boundaries of the distant horizon and decolour the morning sky, like ink blotting a white bed-spread. And then witnessing those magical drops fall, as if in slow motion, reincarnating the earth. To hear those drops pound the window, to let that raucous throbbing subdue the other sounds in your mind, to then open the window cautiously and welcome the eager rain in, to feel those drops then break upon your face and drip down your chin, and fall down into a puddle around your feet -- there's no taking away the beauty of that feeling.

And then there is the joy of cycling in the rain. I was in college and returning from a class by train one day -- this was when I had to cycle to and from the station every day. It was night, and the rain was really thrashing about. You know how it is, there are sheets slashing the streets in one direction and then, like a moody housewife running around the house, they shift direction and begin slashing the other way. And though I'm usually quite pragmatic -- you have to be when you have a history of asthma -- I decided to brave it that night. And the memory of that night is burnt so strongly inside my head, that I sometimes wonder if I made it all up. So, there I was cycling on roads without a soul on them, the rain soaking, saturating, and dripping off my clothes in rivulets, pounding my head, stinging my eyes, and pretty much reducing visibility to a couple of feet. I pedalled on laboriously, all kinds of songs running through my head, lines from poems read ages ago coming to mind in an insane sequence.

And then it happened.

There are sights in life, which when you see, make you feel that if you were to die just right then, you would have no complaints about doing so. A sight so magnificent, so heart-wrenching, so once-in-a-lifetime, that I didn't want to write about it lest I spoil the beauty of its memory by attempting to put into words something I'm not capable of. But try I must.

The route to my house runs through a narrow road which separates, on one side, a small pond, which is dry for most part of the year, and on the other side, a small farm on which the kids in my neighbourhood play Cricket. But on that night it was raining so bloody hard, the pond was overflowing across the road -- not by much though -- and onto the field on the other side. And as I struggled through this road on my cycle, the wind threatening to topple me off my saddle, lightning 'happened'.
Flashed, streaked, and bolted right across from one corner of the sky to another, its reedy fingers tearing the heavens apart into a million tiny bits and just lighting up the whole wide world with an ethereal glow. For a full five seconds at least. I braked and got off. Had to, I was dumbstruck. And as I looked around me, wind and rain whipping my hair and face, there was day, and there was night as the lightning pulsed, almost as if in climax. Again and again.
The sight of the pond shimmering in that orange, unearthly light was eerie and breath-taking, and then I was consciously looking around, memorizing every little mesmerising detail around me. The farm was bathed in light as if on fire; the trees lining the farm standing still, as if electrocuted; the temple by the lake, as if petrified by the anger from above, looking on in stony silence; the telephone pole in the middle of the pond struggling to stay upright; the road ahead with the water gushing across ... And then as suddenly as it happened, the lightning went away, like a truant kid hauled away from stage before he could utter his vile limerick. And then thunder slammed home. Boomed and shook the earth and left me trembling in my wet clothes. And then silence, like that which follows the click on a phone after a long, soul-searching conversation.

Standing there on that road and staring into the night, breathing my lungs off, the water lapping at my shoes, all I could feel was disbelief. And shock. And a strange numbness, as if nothing mattered now. And as I continued to look around, I was so painfully aware of all that I could not see then, the triteness that confronted me in the darkness of the night, all that beauty which, but for that momentary respite of lightning, I would never have seen in that special light. And as I look back now, I realize Life is like that too. All it takes in the darkness that we pedal through is that one extraordinary moment, that one moment when it takes something greater than us to make us realize the true extent of what's around, and what we miss out on.

That I lay wheezing in bed for the next two days is a different story altogether. But like I told myself between coughing spasms, it was worth it. Truly.

I like to think -- and this is by no means an original thought -- that rain has character. There is the furious, thrashing rain that comes in slanting sheets, as if it's trying to hack its way through the concrete jungle of our cities. At times like that, it's best to be stranded in a bus-stop with a hot snack handy, and just watch the rain pillage and plunder. Trust me. Been there, done that.
And then there is the sorry rain, when the clouds have almost dried up, when the rain just falls down vertically in a thin shower. It's almost as if the drops felt tired of travelling and just decided to drop down and die. And if you're in a sad mood, be sure, you'll feel sadder before this rain stops.
And then there's this really mean side to the rain when it just goes full throttle and stays that way for days on end, and then there's no option but to sit it out. But the rain is at its best when it's playful, when it alternates between a drizzle and a downpour -- if you've played football in this sort of rain, you know what I'm talking about.

And then there's the afterward. Walking through the streets after a rain, seeing the world attired in its best colours, when that cleansed feeling transcends the surroundings and leaps into the depths of your soul, when you feel like starting all over again...As if God fell in love and decided to let everyone on Earth know.

Funny thing, this rain.


Karthik said...

There's no better time pass in the world than to sit in a lazy afternoon at office and read Rajesh's Blog !!! Nice post da ..

musafir said...

@ karthik: dei adangu da ... thanks for the compliment :D

unpredictable said...

Awesome post .. awesome profile ... uve inspired me to start blogging again !!! and thats a mean feat!!! Not a complete stranger .. im a friend of Ravi Karthiks .. really nice post u have here!!!

Samudraa said...

Beautiful.........Yet again!!

Dont wanna say anything more,lest i compliment it any less!

catch 22 said...

Right up there with "Challenged"

musafir said...

@ Everyone who's commented: Are you guys having me on? I don't know if I'm being stupid, but somehow I think this was just another post ... maybe I'm being overtly critcal of myself here.

musafir said...

@ unpredictable: Thanks a lot, appreciate the words :) ... I'm always pleased to see people commenting for the first-time.

And as for having inspired you, really flattered to read that, and really don't know how to respond to that!

Ravi's friend huh? Small world, especially on the blogosphere.

musafir said...

@ samudraa: :) Like I keep saying, sometimes words are superfluous...

musafir said...

@ catch 22: :) - Really? C'mon now...

catch 22 said...

Will tell ya one thing buddy, When I read challenged I could relate to every letter of it and to be frank I have reread Challenged umpteen number of times. It gives me a sense of ecstasy. Somehow its different everytime I read it. This post on rain is upthere with Challenged because it gives me the same feeling of being high and I could relate to it so well.

Again its my opinion , you may not even rate it anywhere close to Challenged.

Anonymous said...

well one more person agrees with me on challenged :) for this post and the question u asked the other day, i think it is for u to decide.

Samudraa said...

I feel so proud and elated when i see ppl talking about challenged the way they do!!

But Nostalgia is a doubleedged sword! On one hand there is an estatic pleasure on relishing the moment once again and on the other a stinging longing/annoyance as i realize some things meant to happen only once!

Languorous_chaos said...

After a long time I've come across a post written piognantly on one of nature's most fascinating facets(at least for me)! Thanks for the shared experience:)

musafir said...

@catch 22: :) ... lonely is the one who writes.

@ anon: You too? My cup runneth over! Thanks :)

And yes, it's up to me - always.

@samudraa: No comment!

@languorous_chaos: Aha, another first-timer, well, this must be some post indeed!

Thanks for the words - appreciate the appreciation. As for sharing the experience, isn't that what writing's all about?

darkness said...

I am sorry. I am having exams these days and didnt have the time to read your long post, but what fascinated me was your little self description (your profile)... I always find it hard to describe myself but you have done it so simply.
will definately read your post once my exams are over.

musafir said...

@ darkness: Yes, that profile...hmmm, well, to be honest, I didn't know the answer to that question for a long, long time.

But then, was pondering this one day, and it all came out, nice and easy. I guess there's a time for everything. I believe it's normal -- this not being able to describe oneself. Takes a Life to know oneself completely. And I still think that little self-description is incomplete in a lot of ways. But for now, this will do.

Thanks for dropping by -- look forward to seeing you around again. And yes, good luck with the exams!