This is a quick primer for figuring out if one is being drenched by pre-monsoon rogue clouds or the real thing, based on quirky experiences and local folk sayings.
- Clouds marshal forces around the horizon, growl threateningly at the sun, whip up a breezy wind through the pine trees and then disperse inexplicably—ah haa! That’s the pre-monsoon trailer show. Just to assure the heated up hill folks that summer is being pushed out.
- At dawn, there are these distraught birds teaching their young ones to fly – that involves a lot of squawking and screaming ( at the petrified little flyers, at the passing dogs and monkeys, at the world in general and about parenting woes in particular)—uh huh…more pre-monsoon than monsoon. The rains drown nesting places and the little ones had better become good fliers by then.
- Long humid evenings merging into velvety black, silent nights. Silent nights interrupted by frenzied buzzing and abrupt crashing on the wire-netted windows and doors. Early morning spectacle of fat, luminous, helpless beetles lying on their backs, flailing legs in the air and inquisitive birds checking them out for their young uns—yes! T his is the monsoon reality show.
- Starry night at bedtime, lightning and thunder at midnight, whistling winds and howling rain till dawn, misty clouds and soaked trees at sunrise. That amazing monsoon experience of waking up to see the clock strike 6, and not knowing if its am or pm.
- Grass shoots push away suffocating heaps of pine needles, and one can see the celestial green felt pen at work again— green patches below oak trees, green lines on hill slopes and a slowly spreading green stain all over the golf course.
- Cattle roam over hills and dales, contentedly chomping grass and green shoots. The owners round up the well fed cows at dusk, while the orphaned bulls keep grazing through the night. Once in a while, amidst the pitter-patter of rain, the sound of running hooves, panting breath and terrified moos can be heard—the panther emerges for a kill and there is no one to protect that one marked bull that night.
- The departing cars of tourists, the bus loads of kids going back to their school routine, the empty slopes of the golf course, the easy availability of train tickets on irctc.com and it’s the end of the summer tourist season. I can walk in the middle of the road again, I can chat with my grocer , the wool shop owner and everyone else at the market.