Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainy Days and Broken Professorial Spirits.

You fondly watch his eyes glaze over, and you sigh proudly as he shouts ineffectually above the cacophony. You are delighted when he decides to throw a chalk, and you blink back tears of affection as he threatens to withhold attendance. His voice eventually peters away and he is a shadow of his confident self. He finally decides to ignore the rest of the class and teach only the three people in the first row. When the bell rings, he slinks quietly away.

You look around at your class with an unmistakable sense of brotherhood and pride; in the grand tradition of things, another new teacher has been successfully broken in.

But it takes so long to train them, and before you know it they are gone. It is a thankless job, but well. Sunrise, sunset.

It rained today and the earth smells new again. There is a quiet, gentle romance about the rain in the desert. There is no lush greenery that follows it, just the opening of tiny star shaped flowers, gaudy in their colouring and few in their number, blooming between tiles and pushing up stubbornly through cracks. We step on them all the time, but they persist. The people here are exactly the same. Proud, hardy and coloured like tropical birds.

People are prettier in the rain too. Umbrellas fly away, hairpins are lost and clothing sticks in funny places. This makes people awkward, so they laugh for no reason and the cold brings out the pink in their cheeks and the whites of their teeth and melts their makeup and the walls they construct around themselves. It's nice to watch the death-metal fanatic smile stupidly in the rain.

The rain in the south is so different from the rain in the north. The rain in Chennai is warm and grubby and the roads fill with grey sludgewater, with an enthusiasm that is only matched by the people who wade through them, nodding joyfully to each other, saying aiyoo every year the rains come earlier, this global warming also no, god only knows what will happen to our weather now, the last time it rained like this it was in 1958 and my auntie was pregnant with chinna, you know chinna? chinna's son is doing yem yess in yoo yess, and how old is your daughter now?

In Bangalore the rain is cold and clear and people do not comment on the rain because rain of course a part of Bangalore's weather, and no Bangalorean worth his Bhagyalakshmi Butter Gulkand would dare to insinuate that he is surprised by the fabulousness of the weather. But everyone is happier, and if you are very shortsighted like I am, you should sit on a bench in Cubbon park with your spectacles off, and watch the rain come through the fuzzy canopy in fat crystal drops magnified by the aquarium light and your faulty eyesight. And you can watch the lazy pie dogs settle themselves in puddles and bark with anger and suspicion at the drops bouncing off their noses. And you can drink your excellent hot coffee and think, perhaps I should have brought a book? And you can be happy.

The rain in Cochin is the cleanest, friendliest rain I've ever seen. The rain comes in a wave of water and washes through the whole city. Crowds of women with purple-black curls, chitter excitedly like birds and disappear under communal umbrellas. You take your glass of pink water and stand outside your restaurant to watch as a gaggle of nuns in white sarees tumbles confusedly out of a tiny matador van and splashes energetically to safety. And as suddenly as it came, the rain is gone. The sky, the trees, the roads and the white houses with colourful roofs look scrubbed clean. People pause at the sudden absence of pattering raindrops and juddering traffic. Someone laughs, a child jumps tentatively in a puddle. The pause is broken, and Cochin is on the move again.

In Jodhpur, of course, drama is two for a penny, so we don't just have rains, no sirree, for how would that please the foreigner tourists? No, the droplets are icy bullets and they swirl in the midst of a dramatic sandstorm. The air is red and the sky is purple. There is thunder and there is lightning, and in the best tradition of all bars of lightning, trees will be struck and burnt to black skeletons. Occassionally there are hailstones. These storms come prettily accessorised with fallen buildings, flooding dams and dead pedestrians. O, you white man who has come from Yoo Kay, are your pitiful London rains anything like this? Are they?? Huh?? HUH?? Yeah, I thought not. See why National Geographic loves us so much!

Perhaps this is unnecessary to say, but I love the rains.