When Chennai wets itself..


So when I landed in Chennai, they warned me of the summer. ‘It will burn your pants off’, ‘You will lose the desire to live’, ‘Legend has it that no outsider has survived’, ‘Hope you have an AC dude’. Yup so I heard it all and in between my consternations on how to wrap my mind around getting past this hellish summer, some kind soul remembered to warn me about the monsoon too…

‘It begins to rain and then it doesn’t stop. Every inch of what you previously were introduced to as the road, will lose all its identity and just become one huge puddle of water waiting to be splashed on your newly polished shoes/ironed pant/snazzy party shirt/face (true story).’
I used to wake in horror at the thought of this all depressing season. Never been the greatest fan. And yes they write many a prose and poetry of this wonderful season but to me it’s just a messed up coming together of all that is terrible.

Wet muddy slush                Check
Slush on your clothes          Check
Nowhere to walk               Check
Cancel plans coz of rain      Double check
Did I Mention, slush?          Check

So to all the romantics out there who wait for the rains to profess your love, don’t do it in Chennai. Now when it all began I had the fortune of being out of town. Like how Switzerland must be feeling every time some part of the world breaks out into war, I sat comfortably numb to the fact that I was going to be thrown right into the battlefield very soon. Upon landing in Chennai I was greeted with wet roads, remains of a shower, scattered umbrellas, women in wet silk sarees..Ok back to reality. Basically, a colossal mess. But no rain, none at all. Could it be over?

I quietly sauntered into my house as not to disturb the rain gods/devils and tucked myself into bed with ‘Here comes the sun’ slowly playing in the background. And that’s when that eerie voice returned in my head, ‘it begins to rain and then it doesn’t stop’ . True to his words and apparently the ruling party’s manifesto, the rains returned the next day. Now I would like to use the words’ with the vengeance’ or ‘like its going out of fashion’ but it was much worse. I mean I was looking at the dictionary for the right words when it got blown away with the wind. Instantly there were flash floods on the little street outside my house. The victims being every pair of shoes/chappals in a 5km radius, lowest office turnout rates in a year (since the last Rajnikant movie release) and a floating Egg Bodimaas stall that had the name ‘Mobile Egg Cuisine’, couldn’t be more apt.

I stared at the roads ala John Cusack in 2012 or even Jack Black checking out an inflated Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Shallow Hal’ and there was nothing shallow about this. It was pure chaos except that nobody else seemed to feel that way. It was like another day for every other mortal/superhero on the road. I mean these guys were just waking up to another day. I, was waking up in a nightmare or wait, a wet dream (PG rating mentioned*). So I waded to my office, jumped on a few bricks and crossed the rivers of Chennai’s monsoon. Then I turned back and looked at the mess and was amazed at how we adapt, like we were born with these abilities. Come the summer we curse and get through with all that we can remove off our bodies, come the monsoon and we wet ourselves (ha ha ha) with thoughts of getting wet everyday.

Then when we least expect it, the sun creeps out from behind and goes all ‘Peek a Boo’ for a couple of days, teasing and tantalizing, and with me wanting to give it one solid slap. Finally it appears in all its glory and across town people start running up to their terraces with bucket loads of clothes to put it to dry. Panting and relieved at the same time, they put up their clothes and smile in relief and like na├»ve kids return to their daily lives only to be greeted in the evenings with a downpour and clothes thrown all over the terrace and your sense of belief in all that is good taking a major beating.

But we still wake up the next morning, wear our Sunday best and get down and dirty back in that all conquering mess. We roll up our pants and flip out our umbrellas and raincoats, make a silent prayer hoping for the winter (story for another day) and make the dip in the unholy waters of the Chennai monsoon.

At the end we prevail.. But the monsoon kindly begs to differ.