It was 2nd Feb, Sunday. The day is celebrated as World Wetland Day and I saw a big poster outside Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary on my way to Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary after a gap of almost a year. The idea was to go and look for birds in Dighal wetland near Jajjhar (Haryana) but at the end we landed in Bhindawas.
On our way we were talking about rain and the forest of Rajaji and Corbett NP during monsoon. We were discussing how everything become so lively after the first spell of rain in the jungles. Grasses become suddenly taller and greener and the jungles become dense, birds in their breeding plumage becomes more active and the dry river beds start flooding with fresh water. We were talking about the beautiful smell that floats inside the jungles during the season. I cannot remember now as from where we had started talking about rains but the only thing which I remember is that the weather on that day was little cloudy.
After a long day out in the field, I went to sleep in the evening and when I got up at around 8pm and stepped outside, I felt little warmer than usual. The sky was cloudy and a light drizzle already removed the first layer of dust from the surface. An earthy smell and fresh air made me happy.
Monday was gloomy and foggy. Fog was thicker than normal and the cars were moving with their headlights and parking lights on till about 10am. The next two days starting from Monday night it rained heavily. Daily Pioneer quoted “The city received a total of 57.2 millimeters of rainfall, which is the highest rainfall recorded in one day in the month of February in 71 years”. The rain brought some unusual happiness to everyone’s mind. Everyone was talking about rain. With a sense of joy within, I have ordered the book “Chasing the Monsoon” from my flipkart wish-list.
The book arrived the very next day and reading about monsoon while it was raining outside was a pleasant feeling. Despite the fact that I am from Assam and before moving to the capital had witnessed 25 monsoons, floods, continuous rain stretching almost a week or more and all different kinds of joy and problems that the season normally brings, the book introduced me to a completely new world. While going through, I had taken pauses multiple times to imagine myself in the situation as described by the author, Alexander Frater.
Along with Mr. Frater, I began my virtual journey from Cochin to Cherrapunji chasing the monsoon. During the whole journey, I left Mr. Frater alone in certain paragraphs mostly when he was talking to some acquaintance out of my interest or describing certain thing in connection to his grandfather. But overall, it was a nice journey which refreshed me – like the first spell of rain which bring so much freshness into the atmosphere.
I do not know whether I have to wait here in Delhi till 30th June to witness the next monsoon or I will be lucky enough to experience it on 8th June in Goa or go to a hill station and feel the clouds moving under my feet. But I am certain, this monsoon, I will remember Mr. Frater and if nothing else, watch the torrential rain pouring from my balcony.
Name: Chasing the Monsoon
Author: Alexander Frater
Publisher: Picador India
Price: Rs. 275