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How to survive a monsoon in Goa

17 Jun

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.

The steps leading out of the basement room, where I work.

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!

Mana dons hers reliable rainwear right before we got caught in a cloudburst

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.

The lovely Zeb, singing what is easily one of the best tracks Coke Studio Pakistan has produced

Tahir Mithu, the happiest singer Coke Studio ever had

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.

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25 Responses to “How to survive a monsoon in Goa”

  1. Tin Roof Press June 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    that sounds lovely. the nice thing about the monsoon is that its not freezing cold rain. and after scorching summers it always feels welcome and joyful somehow

    • hAAthi June 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      Absolutely! Its the perfect antidote to the horrid May we’ve just had. This year was exceptionally hot, and Im loving the rain now..

  2. Pepper June 18, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Goa monsoons are lovely. I remember though, I was might pissed one time when I chose to holiday in Goa during the monsoon, only to find every single thing shut. The beaches were not accessible either. We spent our entire time whining in our rooms.

    But if you’re living there, that makes it another story. A beautiful one, like your post :)

    • hAAthi June 18, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      The beaches are totally inaccessible, but there is another side to Goa to explore, which is so refreshingly different and unlike what Goa is known for, that I’m sure you’d like it :) The waterfalls get full, the forests lush and the constant rain makes it ever so tropical and lovely. Its a great time to head into the hills here, and plenty of hill resorts offer great monsoon packages. The next time you happen to plan a holiday here in the rain, let me know, I’ll recco a few places.

  3. Ashwathy June 18, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Here from The Bride’s post :)

    Heavy rains predicted in Mumbai for the next 48 hours. I guess, Kerala, Goa, Mumbai receive long months of monsoon because of their proximity to the coast. Been to Kerala during my childhood, now in Mumbai. Need to jump to Goa now! :)

    • hAAthi June 18, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      Its glorious if you’re visiting. But living here is quite another thing. Come back here in a month and you wont see the same happy-with-the-rain-and-loving-it demeanour!

  4. Smita June 18, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    Aah! We were there one monsoon and what a beauty the place was :)

    The last few pics remind me of what I did yesterday. It was raning like there is no 2moro and m son was sleeping. I closed all the curtains, clipped them properly so no a single ray of light cud come in and was watching TV when my hubby came in and said “you to have made it look as if it is night.” But I cannot tell you how comforting the room was.

    And yes life goes on when it rains, it is just that ppl device ways of saving themselves from the onslaught. My only grouch with it? My neighbors (as in colleagues) dig out boring synthetic rain wear!!! Life becomes drab!

  5. chandni June 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    green with envy. what is the procedure for moving to Goa and living happily ever after?

    • hAAthi June 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      Depends what you do :)
      Seriously though, we’re looking for writers, inbox me if you want the scoop, or know anyone who wants to relocate to a quiet happy life in Goa.

      • chandni June 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

        Dude!!!! i write :D

        • hAAthi June 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

          What are you saying?!! im emailing you.

  6. Roxana June 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    So many things to say here.

    1) What is the procedure to move to Goa? I am no writer and what I do will fetch me zilch jobs in Goa, but really, what does one need to do, to move?
    2) I’ve spent the last two days wishing for rains in Madras. Its been a tantalising 2 days, with mildly overcast skies and the slow pitter- patter of the random raindrops. But none of the heavy showers I need right now, to literally soak myself in
    3) Your post reminds me of Kerala – all those childhood holidays and how much I loved being there when the monsoons just hit the state. Lush, green and new – like everything had been refreshed, like you say. Nothing, NOTHING ever comes quite close.
    4) Had our plans worked out, a friend and I would have spent the past weekend in Goa. Yes, Goa in the rains, the way we wanted. There is still a month more for us to re- plan this, haan? If it will rain all through July, I am heading there. Could I mail you for recos?
    5) Love the picture of the steps out of your room

    • hAAthi June 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      ok, going in sequence here:
      1) there is no procedure to move really. it all depends on what you want to do once youre here. i dont know what you do, but if you’re interested in working in the field of communication, we’re hiring. all across.
      2) its poured here for close to 3 days without a rest now. so im sure mardar isnt very far off now. its on its way!
      3) goa and kerala are SO similar in the rains its unfunny. iv posted pictures before and often been asked if im in kerala :)
      4) arrey wah, a weekend in rainy goa is awesome. i met MM here when she visited last monsoon, and she and OA and the babies had a blast from what I remember. sure, mail me for reccos, i’ll do my best to help!
      5) the picture was from a less rainy day, with the curtains slightly open. today theyre closed shut. and the rain outside is making me have to take an umbrella to go up and pee! also done today, a concall under an umbrella!

  7. Manreet S Someshwar (@manreetss) June 19, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Really enjoyed your post as it brought back memories. When I got married, my in-laws were posted in Goa and hubby and I spent a monsoony fortnight there. The lushness, the falling rain, and a sky streaked with clouds were our companions as we drove around randomly discovering … Such fun!

    • hAAthi June 19, 2012 at 7:23 am #

      That is really the best time to discover Goa!

  8. bhavanas11 June 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    that is such a sweet and offbeat post…did not expect it!

  9. dipali June 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Such an evocative post- loved it! We luckily left Goa the day before it flooded in 2005, though we loved the rain washed beach and clouds and hot tea and pakodas in the resort. Living there sounds good!

  10. nmaha June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Ah! I love the romantic dreamy style of this post.
    I’ve lived in city that had three days of drizzle a year, and nothing more, for 24 years. So when I moved to Chenni and got to experience ‘real rain’ including cyclones, I was thrilled and till today, I still find it fascinating (of course, now I have a four year old to control). Sounds like the perfect rainy evening, I’m going to check out Coke Studio tonight.
    We have those rain pants here as well :-)

    • hAAthi June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      You should! Its perfect for the rains. And “here” is Chennai? Isnt it fabulous there too?

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