Who can suppress excitement at the first sighting of looming monsoon clouds? Who can deny the joyful prospect of relief from unrelenting heat of an Indian summer? The season draws every corner of our vast, diverse country together of what we call it, how we deal with it or where we live, we all understand the monsoon.
In this anthology, Juhi Sinha celebrates the monsoon with monsoon recipes and festivals from different parts of the country, and fiction and poetry both modern and historical. With Khushwant Singh,
Ruskin Bond and Rabindranath Tagore, the Meghaduta, the Ramayana and the Rig Veda, and, of course Alexander Frater, this book is the perfect medley to bring the rains alive any time and anywhere.
Juhi Sinha written for several newspapers and magazines in India, including the Times of India, Indian Express, the Hindustan Times, Reader’s Digest, Swagat, Femina and Discover India, as a freelance journalist. Her shories have won prizes in international competitions (BBC and the Tom Howard short-short contest, USA). She is also involved with production, scripting and direction of television programmes and films.
The build-up to the arrival of the rains has all the elements of high drama. There is the waiting, the anticipation, the feeling that the heat and humidity can no longer be humanly endured. And then there is the imagined delight of that first gust of monsoon winds, laden with the intoxicating fragrance of damp earth, the changing hues of the skies, the welcome darkening of the day and the splatter of the first heavy raindrop.
Everything changes with the arrival of the monsoon-land, sky, temperature, colours, fruits, flowers and the very expression on people’s faces as they greet the change of season. It is preceded by a long wait, the suffering of hot, humid days, the burning roads and highways, the concrete buildings that radiate heat and the power cuts that plague a populous nation that has discovered air conditioning.
At the beginning of summer, there is acceptance of a season that comes every year alongside the belief that it will end with the monsoon. The harsh realities of the discomfort have yet to set in. But by the middle of May the peninsula heats up and the hot, dust-laden winds from across the lash the north and the west; each day gets hotter and the dull, metallic, unforgiving sky offers no relief even at night. The stifling weeks stretch on, sapping one’s endurance, and there is only one hope: the monsoon, when it comes, if it comes.
When the first tains announce their arrival, relief is writ large on every face. The dusty roads and avenues are washed clean: the trees drooping from the oppression of the summer heat toss their beads with joy and freedom in the wind and rain. There is hope and optimism in the air, for the rivers, lakes, ponds and wells are full, as will be the food basket, soon.
In this collection of monsoon writings, I have tried to give the reader a monsoon experience-a multi-hued
bouquet of prose and poetry, music and songs, recipes and reminiscence redolent with both yearning and romance. I have selected pieces and arranged them in seeming disorder to provide variety and interest. It is an attempt to make the delights of the monsoon available at will, throughout the year, year after year!
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