Sunday it is our weekly shopping day. It has been pouring since last night and continues to pour heavily as I write. The forecast says it will continue for the next three days. Imagine 1500 mm of rain has already gone down the drain. Double this figure is what we expect by the end of monsoon.
In rainy season it is a ritual that all of us carry umbrellas. As you step out of your door, with a click of a button it deploys like a parachute. Now, at least the downpour is blocked. Next obstacles are the small rivulets which flow on the pathway. There is no way you can avoid them. We step into them with utmost caution lest your chappals throw those droplets to wet your rear. The standard dress is Bermuda and hawai chappals, no point getting dressed like a Colonel. When in Alibaug, don’t do as the Romans do.
Next hurdle is to get into the car without getting wet. The moment you open your door & sit down with the umbrella stuck outside, you push your hand out to fold the umbrella; it is time enough to get one sleeve and half the interiors of the car wet. Now is the dilemma where to keep your wet umbrella. If you keep it on the floor you clothes are bound to absorb water. So we stick them into the drinking water bottle slots.
When you reach the market the same drill is done to open umbrellas again so now one side of yours is thoroughly wet. Here there is an unwritten umbrella code, that when you cross each other you tilt it to the opposite side out of courtesy, means that for a few seconds half of your body is exposed to the rain gods. It is dicey if there are a few people in a row. Then the second code is if you are taller than the person opposite, it is your moral duty to raise yours a little high, like a gentleman would raise his hat for a lady. In the bargain the other person’s umbrella goes touching you and you get the trickle of his umbrella water.
People in cars I found are courteous; they slow down in puddles for the pedestrian from the mucky water being thrown at you. Then there are some naughty people on two wheelers who know you have nowhere to run and splash water at you. You try and give them a dirty look but the umbrella is shading you, it gets too late. By now you have been soaked thoroughly. It is now just psychological to stay dry. It is something like the novices boxing. You try and avoid taking a hit but once hit then your face goes numb. Then boxes don’t matter. Now rain doesn’t matter.
My daughter wanted to buy new sandals today so as the unwritten code goes, everyone takes off footwear outside the shops. You walk on a few gunny bags and then do shopping. For the first time she found one of her slippers missing. Here no one takes them away but today it happened. Look at the honesty of that person he took one of hers and left one of his. Actually when everything is wet then that feeling of wearing your own stuff disappears I think.
Carrying your sabzi-tarkari bag is tough. If you hang it too low it is bound to get wet from both the rain and the love poured by the passing traffic, so you hang it holding it high while balancing your umbrella in the same hand. God forbid if an acquaintance meets you to exchange pleasantries. You can’t even tell him that dimwit I am carrying two kgs each of tomato, potato and pyaz. The only escape is to blame it on the “barish” and move on cursing under your breadth.
Once you reach back your car the drill of staying dry still continues in your mind subconsciously though you may be soaking wet. Today, when I reached home I decided to give my car a rinse. I parked in the rain against the wishes of my wife. She said hum bheeg jayenge. I looked at her lovingly and said sweet heart “thora aur sahi” for my sake. She lovingly took the bait and ran inside.
By the time I went in I was wet to my undies. I ran and changed as goose bumps and those little shivers that you start experiencing when drenched were catching on me besides the pressure to visit the loo. Before I got a running nose it was time to dry up. Next Sunday, will we get a no rain window to do our shopping? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis