After the rain, me

Saturday night I fell asleep to the sound of thunder and very hard rain. We’d planned a simple trek, just the two of us, to a hill fort outside Mumbai on Sunday morning. The rattling of windows in a proper monsoon storm woke me before the alarm. I looked out of the window and decided to cancel our plans. Even if the rain stopped, as it briefly did soon after sunrise, the ground would have turned to mush, and the mountainside would be slick with water. Not the easiest conditions for a walk.

After a cup of tea, The Family decided to go for a walk around the complex. It has been an odd monsoon. Very high winds, many dry spells, but normal rainfall on the average. The result is that several trees have fallen, and lots of branches and twigs have been shaken off others. These have been piled up next to paths, waiting for final disposal at the end of the monsoon. Today the lawns and playgrounds between buildings were flooded.

On a tree quite a way above my head, I saw one of the exotic giant snails which usually hide below shrubs and fallen leaves. This climate refugee must have started its journey early, but it was far from the only one. The half hour walk yielded so many creatures that The Family threatened to leave me on my own if I stopped again to take a photo of nameless creatures. I must have really tried her patience, because she was impermeable to my argument that each climate refugee has a story worth listening to.

O bruit doux de la pluie
Par terre et sur les toits!
Pour un coeur qui s’ennuie,
O le chant de la pluie !

Il pleure sans raison
Dans ce coeur qui s’écoeure.
Quoi ! nulle trahison ?
Ce deuil est sans raison.

Paul Verlaine (Il pleure dan mon coeur)

Oh sweet sound of rain
Ground and on rooftops!
For a heart that is bored,
O the song of the rain!

He cries for no reason
In this sickening heart.
What! no treason ?
This grief is without reason.

Paul Verlaine (It rains in my heart)

Here is a small selection of creatures which were trying to get away from their flooded homes. The colourful millipede is extremely common along the west coast of India, and perhaps even further afield (It is Anoplodesmus saussurii. Thanks for the ID, NN; it is no longer nameless). Unfortunately there is no go-to field guide which would let me identify it. It is a creature that lurks in leaf litter, and quite innocuous. The small brown snail was new to me. It had crawled out of the pool below a tree on to a giant bracket fungus growing on the trunk. I don’t know how many kinds of slugs you find around Mumbai, but I’m sure I’ve seen this species before.

Back home after the walk, I checked my phone for messages. There was a forwarded message from the Municipal corporation saying that the main water purification plant for the city had been damaged. Flood waters had breached the pipes, and citizens were advised to boil water for drinking. Are these episodic extreme rain events due to climate change? If yes, then are we beginning to see the conditions that will eventually force us to join the ranks of climate displacees?

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. Hi IJK. I am in a quandry over the millipede! While it looks quite like the Harpaphe haydeniana, this species seems to be a native of the American sub-continent. The other option is the Anoplodesmus saussurii, in which the yellow part of the segments sort of stick out. The angle of the picture makes it quite difficult for me to say concusively as to which one it may be. Your physical observation will obviously clarify which one it is. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s pouring cats and dogs up north as well so a walk is literally out of the question . Yours on the other hand was very refreshing and now I can’t wait to go out too. Looking at your surroundings through your lens was an enjoyable experience. I intend to keep my eyes peeled for these little creatures too.

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  3. Thanks for these pictures that not only show the creatures but also the variety of textures as we look closer at tree trunks and ponding water. Your query about whether or not these rain events are due to climate change stick with me. We’re all interested. All of us, around the globe. So thanks for this poignant post, and here’s to you and your family getting out and about soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. trying to get away from the rains – this is true in Europe too this summer. Interesting take on. I like it, but hope you too will be able to get out a bit more soon.

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  5. Seems like a nice walk to salvage the lost walk to the hill fort. Those large snails were very common in the garden of our childhood home, with the exact shade and colour of shell. I see the smaller one around my house commonly now, but it’s a lighter color of shell and body.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a year it’s been for extreme weather I.J. You are not alone when it comes to evidence of nature’s wrath. Here in the US we have fires burning due to extreme heat and this week in Germany the floods have killed horrific numbers of people. I fear this is only the beginning and yet we continue to procrastinate rather than truly gather the world’s best resources to combat our assault on the natural world. Even your beautiful creatures are fleeing the mess – can you blame them?

    Liked by 1 person

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