If there’s one thing 2.5 years in Goa has taught me it is this: you cannot hate the rain. For if you hate it, it will only make you feel worse. The more you grit your teeth and curse it, the harder it gets. And the more you rant, the more miserable it will make you feel.
But if you accept it, and embrace it in all its glory, you might appreciate the nuances of all the little loveliness that it brings, chances are you will do whatever it takes to make life go on as it normally should. Just a little wetter. Squelchier. But definitely happier.
The Goans have an uncanny way of transitioning into the monsoon. Life gets a little scattered for a day or two after the rains start. The traffic runs amok, it takes some time to get used to carrying an umbrella around wherever you go, everybody’s clothes are perpetually slightly damp from getting drenched in a downpour they didn’t see coming, but pretty soon the monsoon mindset slips in. You wear your rubber slippers to work, the umbrella becomes the coolest accessory, and you’re set.
Around me, I’ve observed Goa change. Put on the monsoon like a 6-month garb. Shades of wetness aside, its how people welcome the rain, give in to it, rather than fight it that strikes me the most.
Sea facing balconies and windows are boarded up in blue plastic sheets, to keep the insides dry and rain-free. My poi-wallah cycles around just as tirelessly, delivering steaming pav to my doorstep everyday. The only difference, he is now bundled in plastic, and the tokri that holds his pav is nestled in layers of tarp. People take to the streets, like they would on any other day. I see them on street corners waiting to hail the next bus that comes a long. Pants rolled up half-way, cell phone in a small plastic packet, safely ensconced in a pocket, and they’re good to go. Children go to school in waterproof sandals and brightly colored raincoats and umbrellas.
The ease with which life goes on boggles my mind. Because I still marvel at every monsoon. Even though this is my third, it is still special, having not yet turned into a run-of-the-mill turn of season. I still wake up every morning, smile and feel just as excited to look out the window, as I did in the monsoon of 2010. The absurdity of putting on my red rubber slippers to work still gives me a special kick. That is the outsider in me, still not fully turned Goan, I guess. And I realised there is a special monsoon self to each of us. We go out of our way to prepare ourselves for it. To stay dry. To stay entertained even with the lack of things to go out and do. To keep warm, and enjoy it.
As of today, it’s coming down in sheets, not having stopped since late last evening. I even had to briefly shut my windows to keep everything from getting soaked. But very quickly, the Goan-ness we’ve absorbed by osmosis almost, nudges us to make the most of a rainy few months.
We simply cover up with plastic sheets, extra food mats, extra ginger tea, hooks to hang up our rainwear and umbrellas and get on with it.
We give into Goa’s monsoon style statement: an oversized raincoat and, rain pants, if you please. Guaranteed to keep you dry in the heaviest of rain. True story!
We entertain ourselves on an exceptionally rainy day with things we wouldn’t otherwise do. Ditching the wet drive to Inox to catch a movie, by staying home and projecting Coke Studio videos on a giant wall, we turn a dreary evening into a wonderfully blissful one with music and friends, singing late into the night.
We keep the lights on in the day beat the darkness that seems to hang around all day. We don’t need the fans anymore. We switch over from last weeks cold milkshakes to hot chocolate. We pick and choose monsoony music. And pretty soon we enjoy it so much, we wish the weekend would give us an extra day of just this. Staying in, music playing, endless cups of chai, book in hand and the rain just lashing on and on.
This is fun. And this is how we do it in Goa.