Till recently monsoon season had not begun in Ahmedabad. Anticipation was building throughout the city, especially for me because I find it oppressively hot here. Then the other day Jig and I were walking outside and I remarked to him that the day was particularly humid, which was a sign that rain was coming. Jig said maybe, but he was skeptical because in Ahmedabad the rains are a tease. All the clouds show up but they don't do anything.
But later that night we were having dinner at Seva Cafe and the clouds absolutely opened up and it started dumping rain. And I mean it was coming out in bucketfuls, like nature was having a water liquidation (no pun intended) sale, it just had to push product out by any means necessary.
At Seva Cafe they moved all the tables out of the open area and people went in and started dancing in the rain (the traditional monsoon celebration). Wildly and crazily. There happened to be a group of percussionists who had come to perform that evening. Once the dancing began they decided to stick around and provide the music for the occasion. It was garba, bhangra, high energy monkey-dancing, the works. People were soaked to the bone, but it didn't matter.
The mood was joyful, raucous, exuberant, relieved, blissful. I kept thinking about the parties that must be going on in villages throughout Gujarat. The arrival of monsoon is something that is celebrated because most of agriculture in the state is rainfed (i.e. not irrigated). Every year I come here and hear about the desperation of farmers as they wait for the rains, and every year when the rains come I hear about the jubilation that subsequently ensues. For me personally, it is also a huge source of happiness. The thing I love most is that I finally can feel a cool breeze on my skin, one of the top 5 things I miss from home.
This night it was fun to celebrate the first rain. A Manav Sadhna volunteer from Spain, Jesus, remarked to me how people back home receive the rains with disdain. It's the opposite of celebration. It's true in California too, where people generally dismiss winter rain as an annoying interruption to the normally perfect weather. So when we were leaving Seva Cafe and someone wished us "Happy rains," it sounded odd to my ear. But really, it's the perfect way to describe the feeling of the day. Happy rains!