It's rainy, cold, damp, and dark most of the time. It is monsoon in India. The apartment I live in has no barricade in the south and west directions, and even the other two sides are sort of open to the elements. I live in this tiny third-floor apartment with my cat, Shreenila (everyone calls her Shreema or Shree), and each floor has just one apartment.
Bengaluru city is at an elevation of 3,000 ft. above sea level, making the weather mostly cold and pleasant. However, you will always find someone reminding you how pleasant it used to be just a few years ago, and how hot, chaotic, and barren the city has turned into now. Tell me this is not true about any other city in this country. I am yet to see the land beyond the borders. And yet, I still feel grateful that we live in considerably colder weather than most other major cities in the country.
Colder days could be a good time to catch up with that quota of extra sleep, however, I feel that oversleeping during these days can become dull and depressive. I love making lists, and I thought let's make a list of activities that I usually enjoy in these colder days, both while staying inside and out.
Go for a walk
Yes, that should be the last thing I should be suggesting. It is chilly, wet, and windy, some cities are even in flash floods, slush all over narrow streets and the ugly snarling traffic makes walking during rains super unpleasant. I understand that this is not for everyone, in this season. And yet, I would say, step out once. Step out especially when it starts pouring heavily. Wear comfortable footwear, which you are okay with getting wet and muddy, but at the same time, ensure the water or slush does not touch your skin. That can be so unpleasant.
Let's listen to a song, as we walk further. The rain drumming over the umbrella while you see the city coming to sort of a halt can be a very calming experience. It can open up another aspect of the urban space. The city is getting a bath, you see. Bikers stop their trips and take shelter under bus stops, or any roof possible. Street businesses quickly wrap up their affairs. Even bigger vehicles slow down a bit. The negative ion in the air. Take a deep breath. Listen to the pour. It's a song like none other. Watch the lights inside the buildings switched on; the wispiness of the yellow lights coming and mixing with the overall greyness.
Appreciate the fallen flowers
Last year, my workplace was 20 mins' walk away from where I live. So I used to have these happy peaceful walks which I enjoyed very much until of course, I changed my job. I do miss those walks, especially because I remember looking down for fallen flowers on the dampened pavements. Red Shimolu, some violet flowers I do not know the name of, and some yellow and orange others. I used to stop at the pavements just to look at these fallen flowers and click their pictures. I would so want to bring them back with me, but I knew they were already withered and smushed. These flowers grow on their tall trees, and one can only get to see them looking up there. Unless, of course, you are a bird, or live in a storied building where you can reach the tree. But for a pedestrian which was me, these particular flowers were unreachable, and I used to be grateful to see them on the ground, even if they had fallen into their final stages. Like, the heavy rain brought them down to us, to say goodbye to folks like me.
Listen to audiobooks (I mostly prefer Agatha Christie's)
Yes, 'Mon Aami', I am an avid Agatha Christie fan. And this windy, dampened weather is the best time I feel to read or listen to cozies (murder mysteries). I do prefer reading them as well, but as time could be a constraint at times, I rather prefer to listen to Hugh Fraser narrating the book on the Scribd app. Like you are taking a walk on this windy street to your work or anywhere, while mentally you are being transported to a quaint little English village, where murder is brewing just down the road. Or in the dark lanes of London, documents of national importance are being traded right under the nose of Scotland Yard. A relish, it is, to listen to Agatha Christie's books. A charm of a world gone by and yet it never feels too old.
Click pictures of rain-drenched windows
Or click pictures of anything touched by the rain. Flower petals, leaves, cloth-hanging wires.
Make tea, a lot of tea
I think we all agree that tea is something like unwinding. The whole formality around having tea sends me into relaxation. Having tea, asking people for tea, and calling up folks to come in for a cup of tea, is something that gives me immense joy. I really have my tea mostly without milk. I got this pretty ice-blue electric kettle that I love, and use it to mostly heat up water for a quick cup of laal-saah (red tea) anytime that I fancy.
In India, deep-fried food is quite a seasonal favorite to have, and I too love inviting my friends in the building or neighbourhood to join me for tea. If I go out for a walk late in the evening, almost sometimes at night, I like to come back and boil up the water for a cup, before I turn in.
Dreaming About My Dream to Live in the Mountains
I know that I am never to settle in one place, have a gypsy soul to blame. But yes, I know for certain that I want to go and live in Himachal in the coming year or years, if nowhere else. The mountains know that I am theirs.' These days, my Instagram feed has been flooded with Edinburg videos, the greyest skies, the wettest streets, and the peeks inside cozy cafes. And, those videos have reinforced to me how much a city, that has rain and hills appeal to me. Maybe, it is because I come from Guwahati, and that city is garlanded by hills, and rain is a round-the-year affair.
Also, I have a thing for window seats, especially when it is raining outside. I think many of us do. I made a second trip to McLeodganj, in Himachal Pradesh, in 2019, once again a second time, partly (or mostly) just to get a chance to sit at the window seat of a particular cafe I have grown so fond of. When I visited it for the first time with my friend Nadia, in 2017, we got the chance to sit everywhere in that place, but that window seat, looking out to the Jogiwara road, where Tibetan ladies selling their woolen wares, crimson-clad Buddhist monks walking by, even the most nerve-wrecked tourists from the plains were soaked into the fog of the town, calm and pacified, passing by. That place, I can remember had the richest tasting coffee of my life. I think, if I ever move to Himachal, I might choose that town first. Is there a city with forever monsoon, if yes, take me there, please.
And the usuals, read a new book, bake, drink more tea or coffee, whichever you prefer
Or even better, create your own monsoon playlists on the music apps you use. I have a Spotify playlist for the Indian monsoon season.
I also love to listen to ambient music, or soft jazz during rainy days, or simply play it in the background while I do my chores, cook dinners, fold my clothes, or even while I try to simply sit and do nothing.
In Bengaluru, the rain will be there until September or even October. So, I can be at ease and settle into a comfy spot, play my favorite podcast on Spotify, or listen to an Agatha Christie audiobook, while it thunders outside and my windows shudder in the wind. Of course, there is the tea.
Rain, rain, stay here, take me away to another land.