The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Here comes the rain

Splash after school

1. Waterlogged streets or an afternoon adventure' All it takes to turn a grimy, messy cesspool into an obstacle course straight out of an adventure film is a little bit of imagination and a whole lot of energy. And no one can possibly possess more of both than a child in school.

Ban those gumboots and off with those umbrellas! Getting wet in the rain (as soon as the teachers aren’t looking and before the anxious parents turn up), splashing down the street (trying to get your friends as wet as you) and kicking up some serious waves (ripples are for the dry and dreary) make sitting through the last period almost worth it.

But the bestest of all is that get-out-of-jail-free card: a rainy day keeping the school doors firmly shut. Never, but never, has the pitter-patter on the windowpane sounded so sweet.

Isn’t she lovely'

2. A leafy look, buses and taxis bathed anew, months of dust and grime on buildings washed away, crevices and corners cleaned… And, of course, the majestic Maidan in all its glory, with grey skies above and lush green below. Parts of Calcutta — from a distance, at least — look as good as it gets.

A ride down Red Road when it’s raining is a treat for even those riled by the rains — sheep grazing on the newly-washed grass with a lazy drizzle creating a misty hue, young love blossoming surreptitiously under colourful umbrellas and teams of exhilarated youngsters kicking up a slushy storm (ask Abhishek Bachchan, who had a ball when shooting for Yuva on the Maidan in the monsoon).

Zoom across Vidyasagar Setu — or race down the AJC Bose Road flyover — for a panoramic view of the cityscape, with raindrops in your face and hair. Or just stand at a window up high and stare at a thirsty city refreshed by rain.

Romance in the air

3. Blame it on Kalidasa — or his Meghadutam — but there’s sure- ly something about the rains that makes you think of love and all the mush that goes along with it. Maybe the overcast skies and the restless Ganges have a little to do with it, but nothing could be better than a rain-washed city for a romantic rendezvous. Even the filthy Calcutta bylanes seem touched by a misty tinge of magic… Without a lover, too, you can trust the rains to carry you away on a song — the clouds over the second Hooghly bridge, a drizzle on the Dhakuria Lakes, or the shimmer of the Maidan. And with your beloved by your side, you can be what you want — Raj Kapoor and Nargis or Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol.

Patter platter

4. The first patter on the windowpane and the mind zeroes in on the platter. As the drizzle becomes a steady downpour, a peek into the kitchen brings gastronomic nirvana, or at least the sight and sound thereof — the hilsa and its hiss in the frying pan. The fruits are gone with summer, but monsoon brings in its own magic — fried, boiled or steamed. If a khichudi lunch is laced with the silver fin lining, there’s more to look forward to in the rain-soaked evening. Move over pizza. Telebhaja, in all its variations, straight from the street corner, is the hottest takeaway of the season.

Dance away the blues

5. The rains have a rhythm of their own, but with the monsoon playing moody, it’s better to keep an artificial option handy. So, enter the rain machine (a maze of hose pipes, water pumps and sprinklers) when you feel it’s the time to disco.

The rainmaker could cost a cool Rs 10,000 to drown a decent dance floor.


Dripping ’n’ dirty

1. Does your home resemble a damp, dismal laundry during the monsoons' Well, if it makes you feel any better, everyone else’s does, too. Clothes that get dirty like hell the moment you step out and take ages to dry when washed is one of the loudest rants of the rainy season. Dressing up, too, is a complete downer. So keep it minimal this monsoon.

Prayer over promise

2. On the streets, that sinking feeling or that state of frustrated suspended animation or that death-trap manhole waiting for a foot fault. If the run-up to the rains is marked by promises (from the authorities), the rainy days are for prayers (from the commuters).

First, the promises. “We have 18 pumping stations with 92 pumps to prevent waterlogging,” says the CMC. Then, the point for the prayer. The pumps are fit for a ‘dry run’ only if the quantity of rainwater is 6 mm an hour. In a deluge, it easily crosses 50 mm in 60 minutes. Add to this the drainage disaster at Park Circus and on Gariahat Road… Welcome to waterworld and traffic trauma.

Slush & sloth

3. The city often resembles a giant football field, with its dwellers doubling as reluctant footballers, dribbling and dodging through the slush. With roads being dug up for repairs, almost sadistically, during the rains there’s hardly a hope in living hell of avoiding a pitfall. Mud-caked footwear and filthy cars are a way of life during these months.

Just as a slipper caught in the muck can drag you down, there’s something about the slush that breeds sloth. Low on energy and loath to leave the house' Blame it on the time of the year.

Short circuit

4. Robert Pires to Zinedine Zidane to… Before Thierry Henry can latch on to Zizou’s through, the screen goes all grainy and your involvement with the Euro 2004 tie is reduced to a spot-the-ball contest.

Lightning, thunder, clogged drains and waterlogging cause havoc when it comes to the numerous cable lines criss-crossing the length and breadth of the city — above and below. So, if the channel switches off in the middle of a crucial match or your favourite film, don’t just blame the cable guy; there are higher forces at play.

As for electricity, warns a CESC spokesperson, the switch-gears and transformers are often damaged by heavy rains and waterlogging destroys meter boards and cables, causing breakdowns and blackouts.

Calcutta chromosome

5. The loudest monsoon moan comes from the city’s collective stomach, with a host of waterborne diseases rendering the digestive tract as delicate as can be. The incidence of Hepatitis A and E (the common varieties of jaundice) is also on the rise, with the virus multiplying rapidly in the warm and humid conditions. Malaria is rampant, with mosquito larva breeding freely in stagnant water. And the sudden change in weather conditions triggers upper respiratory tract infections of viral origin, accompanied by flu and high temperature.

Boil water before drinking or use a proper purifier at home; steer clear of the streetmart for these wet weeks.

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