This is a statement that is very obvious, yet incredible at the same time – there is something magical about the monsoons. It is difficult to believe in it if you happen to live in Kathmandu and face the wide variety of practical difficulties that come with the season.
Far from being magical, it probably feels like a season of unrelenting misery made worse by the compulsions of modern urban life and state of the capital’s infrastructure. I mean you are never very far away from a complaint about the rainfall and how it affects this and that aspect of our daily lives. But I, for one, have stopped being grouchy over the monsoon partly because it may help me appreciate the season more and partly because Kathmandu is unpleasant all year round anyway. Add to that the fact that all of the reasons for detesting the monsoons are of our own making i.e. man-made (our routines, our infrastructure) and all this seasonal hating starts to make less sense.
If we can look past our daily troubles, the monsoon really feeds our spirit, nourishes the inner romantic in us and gives us a sense of coziness – our very own personal moments of ‘hygge’ – that perhaps no other season or external stimuli can. There is no greater pleasure than hearing or seeing the rain lashing outside, cleansing everything in this dust filled city of ours. Is there anything better on planet earth than reading a book, warm and cozy, while it’s raining outside or slowly drifting off to sleep surrounded by the rhythm of the rain? The pitter-patter of raindrops induces the kind of soporific effect that pharmaceutical companies wish they could bottle and sell.
Believe it or not, even the incessant rain that we lived through on Monday this past week has its own charm – awakening food cravings for many people (think hot momos, soups) and, apparently, also ‘challenging’ those that are alcoholically inclined to a good time. Besides that, this sort of weather is always conducive for some good old-fashioned family time and if that’s not magical, then I don’t know what is.
All of this before we even think of the basic significance of a good monsoon that gives us respite from the often searing heat of the summer – not to mention the dust clouds of Kathmandu. As a resident of Kathmandu, I’m only too wary of welcoming the rains that turns the dust into slush but at least it isn’t getting into our lungs. This season is a relief for farmers and their crops, enables replenishment of the water table, and allows us to generate electricity endlessly through our run of the river hydro systems. You don’t have to be a farmer to appreciate its importance – just jog your memory dial back a couple of years to the days when we would all pray for the rains just to be assured of 20/7 electricity during this time of the year. That’s how dependent we were on this season.
Monsoons really are what we make of it and several factors play a role in whether we choose to embrace it or not. Our occupation and to some extent our dependency defines our affinity with the rains – farmers depend on the monsoon for their livelihood and to start their work. Unfortunately, so do our contractors. Whether we live in urban or rural areas perhaps shapes how we greet the onset of monsoon too with rains and the accompanying flooding having the potential to throw urban life out of gear and heap misery on us.
Some folks believe that our personality type i.e. an introvert or extrovert and their subcategories can often dictate whether we like this season or not, with a sweeping assumption being that introverts generally tend to prefer this season. The only thing I can say with conviction is that the single most important factor to enjoying this season undoubtedly is age. As kids, getting wet in the rain is just pure unbridled joy whereas as an adult you would be hard pressed to think of anything worse. In fact, just the slightest bit of rain at the start of the working day makes you start contemplating whether you actually need your job or not. Age also is the only factor why someone might prefer their monsoon outdoors or indoors.
It’s a shame that in our country this season usually means restricting your travel and waking up to a steady stream of bad news with floods, landslides, and tragic accidents reported from different parts of the country. Even in Kathmandu the roads become a death trap – everyone remembers seeing the video of the little girl swept into a storm water drain last year. In this context, it’s hard to be upbeat about this season, never mind even romanticizing it. Perhaps if we stopped – even grudgingly – to smell the proverbial roses, we might appreciate it more. But then again, who really has the time?
The writer loves traveling, writing, and good food when he is afforded an escape from the rat race. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org