July

The monsoon changes character in July. The storms of June with their constant whistling winds, and the occasional thunder and lightning have passed over the land. A curtain of heavy rain clouds follow. On Saturday I dared to go out several times to finish various chores and got drenched each time. I was cooped up in my flat all day on Sunday. On Monday I took a change of clothes to work. It is still raining today. July’s rain is a simple fact of nature: if there is open sky above you, there will be hard rain coming down.

The paddy field is flooded with the fresh water. Frogs are beginning to croak, and on the banks the grass grows whiter than snails’ eggs.
-Yogeswara (poem collected in the 12th century CE in Subhasita-ratnakosa by Vidyakara, translated from Sanskrit by Kosambi and Gokhale)

I wonder whether the experience of people living in this land a millennium ago was very different from mine. Even in this city with a population larger than some countries, I look out of the window and see the rain water pooling under a banyan tree, flooding the garden. Yogeswara would recognize this. The parking lot below my apartment will be full of earthworms which have crawled out of the slush. The roads will be taken over by snails. We were woken in the morning by mynas which found shelter on window ledges. Crows are too big to fit there. Wet large-beaked crows sit in long lines along parapets, descending to flooded lawns to check out the tasty treats which float up in the water.

Most trees have shed their flowers. The flaming red treetops outside our windows have been washed into a clean glistening green by the days of rain. A few hardy flowers will hang on till the next heavy rain. In our balcony there are a few flowers still. The Madagascar periwinkle in our balcony will remain in bloom through the monsoon, presenting such a pretty picture that I take photos of the blooms at least once in this season.