The arrival of the Southwest Monsoon brings with it a renewal of hope and life.
The air is cool and there is the smell of wet earth and the warm perfume of the recently washed flowers.
SUMMER SHOWERS: Romance the rain. PHOTO: AKHILESH KUMAR
Pitter patter raindrops ... . A welcome thought in the heat of summer. The clear blue skies and the blazing sun makes one romance about the rain. But it is not a distant dream. With the end of the khatri one can welcome the southwest monsoon. Once again the downpour will cool the earth and the parched land will drink up the abundance of water.
The monsoon is an activity of national importance. We wait for it with impatience, with urgency, looking to the skies trying to catch a stray cloud, hoping that that dark cloud in the distance will usher in the welcome rain. The southwest monsoon blows in from the sea around the last week of May or first week of June and reaches most of south Asia by the first week of July. These rains are important to India because it decides many of the dates in the agricultural diary. There are two branches of the S.W. Monsoon one the Arabian Sea branch and the other the Bay of Bengal branch.
Setting in, in the early part of June, the rain then progresses down the coast to Mumbai and by late June it has covered most of South Asia. Meanwhile another branch moves northward over the Bay of Bengal and spreads over most of Assam by the first week of June. Progressing further, it hits against the Great Himalayan Range and is deflected westward along the Indo Gangetic Plain toward Delhi. The two branches merge into a single current, bringing showers to the remaining parts of North India in July.
In the cities, the rain is a cleansing agent. It washes away the heat and grime of a dry summer. It gives the city a coating for newness and the roads glisten in the damp. The high tempers of the season have calmed and people are smiling.
In "God's own country", rain is not an uncommon visitor. The rain here is frequent, sharp and in abundance. The land blossoms with a burst of green.
But probably the best place to watch the rain is in the hills. As you look into the horizon you see the rain shadow on the far peaks. And even as you watch it travels slowly and steadily crossing hill, valley and dale. Soon the trees, the lawns, and the flowerbeds everything is drenched. The rain comes gently, washing all that comes into its perimeter. The air is cool and there is the smell of wet earth and the warm perfume of the recently washed flowers. A weak sun tries to come out from its cover of cloud. It is the chill wind that awakens you out of the reverie reminding you that it would be back.
The magic and poetry of the monsoon has been well captured in Alexander Frater's book Chasing the Monsoon. He says: At Fort Cochin they were ringing the bells in St. Francis Church. In the dark harbour small boats ran for home. Waves bursting over the scarlet sea wall were suffused, curiously, with pink light. The jetty, set under a small wooden gazebo, vanished beneath the heavy surf. Orange tiles cladding the gazebo's steeply pitched roof began to tremble until, like clay pigeons being sprung, they went whirling off into the murk one by one.
So, this season, experience the enchantment of the monsoon.
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According to the Wikipedia: A monsoon is a (wind) pattern that reverses direction on a seasonal basis. The term was originally applied to monsoonal winds in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. The word is also used to label the season in which this wind blows from the southwest in India and adjacent areas that is characterised by very heavy rainfall, and specifically the rainfall that is associated with this wind.
Monsoons are caused by the fact that land heats up and cools down more quickly than water, owing to the difference in their specific heat. Thus, in summer, land reaches a higher temperature than the ocean. The hot air over the land tends to rise, creating an area of low pressure. This creates an extremely constant wind blowing toward the land. Associated rainfall is caused by the moist ocean air being diverted upward by mountains, which causes cooling, and in turn, condensation.
In winter, the land cools off quickly, but the ocean retains heat longer. The hot air over the ocean rises, creating a low-pressure area and a breeze from land to ocean. Because the temperature difference between the ocean and land is less than in summer, the winter monsoon wind is not as constant.