Monsoon in Tamil Nadu

A number of factors kept us in the states beyond our scheduled departure date in early October, and we didn’t land in India until early December. November is the heart of monsoon in Pondicherry, where we live, though it is common for the rains to linger a bit after the calender page has been turned. When we arrived to day-after-day of clear blue skies, it seemed plain that we missed monsoon this year.

I have written in the past of the wonders of the monsoon, of the rains which fall in drenching sheets, but with a gentleness that comes from the absence of chill or driving wind. I was extremely sorry to think that we missed it this year.

On Saturday, we were staying in the village of Alampoondi, a couple hours east of Pondy. We had ridden out by motorbike, stopping to climb Gingee Krishnagiri Fort on the way. Sunday morning, we awoke to pouring rain. Yoo-Mi took the state bus back to Pondy with our friend Chandra – and I was left to navigate the sodden road in the downpour.The first thirty seconds were the worst of it. But once soaked-through, the ride was as pleasant as it had been under the bright sun. Winding through the villages of Tamil Nadu is both beautiful and interesting, rain or shine. Village life does not cease simply because the skies have opened. There are still animals to tend, rice to plant, fodder to cut, and food to cook.

I had a dramatic view of last night’s fabulous thunder storm from atop our roof, amid rain so heavy one could almost empathize with turkeys, which are said (incorrectly, but amusingly) to be so stupid that they often drown while looking upward in a downpour. The brilliant lightening strikes served to illuminate the work I was doing: trying to staunch the flood of water into our room.

That is the one downside to monsoon season when you live in our leaky room-on-the-roof: there’s really no feeling entirely dry. We watch the water stains creep down the walls, do our best to place buckets to catch the major downspouts, and try not to think too hard about the fact that everything will grow thick with mold in a day or so.

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