Warm rain

Wherever I end up in this wide world, if I ever need a reason to come back to Chennai every year it’s this: warm rain.

We saw the first rains of the summer today. It was a 15-minute shower, a drizzle really, but it marks the official end of peak summer. The rain caught me just as I was beginning a run in the IIT stadium. There is nothing quite as nice as being in the Institute when the rains start. The drops pound the earth, and the scent of summer heat slowly sizzles up and evaporates. And the rain is warm. It’s like standing in a warm shower, the rain perfectly the temperature of the human body, feeling the liquidness without feeling the cold. Warm rain – it’s worth waiting all May for.

Talking of rain, I read an interesting article yesterday about mosquitoes and rain. Apparently, even a single raindrop weighs as much as 50 mosquitoes. Nonetheless, mosquitoes have a gala time flying in the rain. When a raindrop hits a mosquito, it’s the equivalent of a car falling on top of a human being. How, then? The mosquito survives because it moves with the raindrop – the impact force is low, because it doesn’t change the momentum of the raindrop. After several bodylengths of movement, it slowly disengages by kicking its long legs out.

Falling with the rain: if there’s a metaphor that ought to describe success in life, that’s probably it.

Here’s the article: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/article3497506.ece

I also read somewhere else that for bats, its twice as hard to fly in the rain as it is to fly in dry weather. So if you like the rain, it’s better to be a mosquito than a bat.

The only thing better than being in hot Chennai when the rain starts is to be in Kerala when the monsoons start. Though I used to go to Kerala nearly every summer as a kid, I’ve only been there for the start of the monsoons twice, maybe thrice. The experience is completely overwhelming. The rain pours down like a waterfall, and you can only see maybe 3 feet in front of you. The greenery makes the whole monsoon come alive. I remember talking longingly about the Kerala rains with Rap, and agreeing with him that there’s nothing in the world quite like sitting on a porch in a large house in Kerala, reading a great book, eating jackfruit chips, and watching the rain outside.

But the Chennai rain – there’s nothing quite like it, either. No wonder that much lyrical Tamil poetry has been written about the monsoons and the red, clayey soil of this State…

What could be my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
did I ever meet you?
But in love our hearts are
mingled beyond parting:
as red earth and pouring rain.

The poet is known only as Sembula Peyaneerar – “he of the red earth and pouring rain”.

PS: The Tamil version —

யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.


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