Thursday, April 25, 2013

When it rains in Berlin

By Anomalily via Flickr

Something finally gives way. The panicked desperation for a delayed spring, still needing to wear earmuffs and thick gloves. Piles of old snow blankets, dirty and tinged with Berlin's black soil but determinedly solid, unrelenting, refusing to thaw. They cling still on tops of shrubs, collected in muddy heaps on sides of roads and sidewalks, on hidden corners of roofs and deserted patches of earth.
The sparrows still chirp, their loud cries defiant, shrill in the unseasonably crisp freeze at this time of the year.

Then, something breaks. You're too warm in that winter coat, so you switch back to your thinner jacket, still cautious, still painfully aware of Berlin's fickle weather swings.

But it stays that way. And then, out of nowhere, snow turns into rain. Not piddly no-drops like you're standing next to a fountain, but rain rain. Drops like spears, crashing on the perfectly smooth pallid roads, barraging on everyone, ratting out weak umbrellas.

You blink around and wait. For that muddy, earthy fragrance when the first drops of rain sizzle on the scorching, wrinkled, thirsty soil. For the wafting smells of hot fried bhaji, pakoras and samosas. For warm, roasted peanuts in newspaper cones. For signs of little stalls crowded with people, squinting at the rain, a rustic glass of hot cardamom chai in their cool hands, blowing on it to cool it down.

You wait for that squelch of shoes in the water rivulets born out of the downpour. For the splashes of water as people on two wheelers, late for work, irritated with errant raindrops sliding through their raincoats and wetting their backs, speed by, drenching hems of Kurtas and pants with muddy water.

It starts to rain harder. I wait for chaos. For street urchins and school children on their way home from school, jumping in puddles. For the loud croaks of hidden frogs. For the electricity cuts that don't happen.

Back in Berlin, the tram rattles to a stop and everyone gets in, irritably wiping the raindrops off their minds.

Because here, in this perfect world so far away from home, not a hair is out of place. Bright umbrellas have popped up everywhere, people scurry past me. No one's cooking food on the street, no crowds have huddled around rickety food and chai stalls and no one is cheerful at the spring that has brought warmth but rain instead of sunshine.

How could they be happy about it, how could they begin to understand, when they don't know what magic monsoon conceals in its muddy, splashing, trickling, cooling folds?


I wrote this on one of the first days of spring a couple of days back, when it felt like monsoon in Goa. In Berlin.

And this song kept playing in my head on loop all day. Sigh.

-The Cyniqueen


Dream Pedlar said...

I love this piece of writing. Thank you for posting it.

Cyniqueen said...

Thanks so much for that :)

Gunjan said...

Wow M,

I was literally lost in the thought of Mumbai monsoons as I read your piece. Was a masterpiece!

"Street urchins and schoolchildren on their way home from school, jumping in puddles" --->that totally reminded me of the time i used to get off the school bus as a kid and jump around in the puddles on the road in my raincoat and gumboots.

Thanks for taking me back to those times.