It has now been over a month since I started on my first job, and I’ve resigned to the fact that it does not rain in New Delhi. Having lived for two years in Mumbai before this and three years in Manipal before that, perhaps my notion of what rains are supposed to be like have changed. The rains in Manipal were ceaseless. One got used to wearing damp clothes all the time. The footwear never dried, and if you forgot to wash your feet after getting home and fell asleep instead, you’d wake up to a feet caked in a fine, brittle layer of dust. Move and you soil the bed. Not like it was ever cold in Manipal. The humidity was awful. That was another thing you got used to. When it didn’t rain, you’d be soaked in sweat. Mumbai was more of the same.
The rains in Delhi, when they do come, creep up on you. If you’re at work, looking at your screen, you wouldn’t notice that it has started to rain. It rains silently. More surprisingly, as if it’s a clandestine pact between the clouds and the ground, that sweet smell of wet earth is missing. I miss that smell. Even if you’re out in the rain, the rain doesn’t drench you. The drops are too fine and they have no mass. I walked in the rain once for half an hour and came home damp. Looking out from my balcony one afternoon, I noticed the rain come in. It was a hot afternoon and I welcomed the respite. Of course, I did not know that it was raining from the water itself. I saw the drops fall on the rooftop of the building opposite mine. The concrete discoloured as the drops fell, quickly to regain its original greyness. The rains here don’t know how to rain.
In Nagpur, the arrival of rain is almost always preceded by loud thunder claps, whistling winds and magnificent lightning. The whole episode is one of showmanship and flamboyance. It pours down, big fat drops that spare nothing from their rowdy wetness. The wind refuses to let up, bringing sheet after sheet of rain you can actually see. You can even hear it rain, a pitter-patter that crescendoes into a steady white noise that, if you concentrate, hypnotises you, almost forcing a reverie. And just as your train of thought becomes a suspended thoughtlessness, you are rudely shaken by thunder and lightning. The rain laughs, you smile.