"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

monsoon

Responding To Rain

China Weather

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The photograph is copied without permission from The Guardian
The advertisement is currently doing the rounds on Indian television


An Encroachment Of Dampness

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Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Battening Down The Hatches

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The roof terrace is a sorry sight.

Since my return to India the rain has barely ceased.
This was something of a miscalculation.
I choose to visit my family in friends in Britain and America specifically during June and July for a reason:
to avoid the worst of Kerala’s monsoon.

This year, however, the rains have proved excessively heavy and markedly prolonged.
In the last few days Cochin airport has been closed for days at a time, schools sat empty, the ferry to the mainland was suspended,
and my roof-terrace became a dangerous place to visit.

As monsoon storms lashed the house, the sound if my hard-wood blinds beating against the terrace’s walls worried me during the day and kept me awake a night.

Yesterday Sebastian, my carpenter, came to fix the problem.
He and his workmate have permanently locked the lower edges of the blinds to the walls with heavy-duty fastenings.
I am not quite sure how this will affect the annual repaint. At that stage we might have to think again.
But sleep came more easily last night.

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The expression “batten down the hatches”  probably originated in 1867
Pictures taken on my roof terrace.


Morning Moments… Part Four

A chance of scattered showers…
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Picture taken in Fort Cochin,


Monsoon Reflections

Palm fronds reflected in a street puddle.
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Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Monsoon Reflections

A monsoon-battered bloom floats on the road.

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Picture taken outside my house.


Late Harvest

Last week we picked the last of the mangos from my yard.
These stragglers were still not yet ripe but they faced rotting if left on the tree.
And, sure enough, yesterday the monsoon arrived in earnest.

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Seasonal Work

The umbrella repair man

is very much in demand, just now.
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Pictures taken in Thoppumpady, Kerala.


Monsooned!

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As the monsoon continues to fall on the Malabar coast,
There is just the one option:

Picture taken while the rain falls in Palace Road, Cochin.

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Change And Decay

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The house and yard were cleaned and painted, inside and out, just ten months ago.

But since then the annual monsoon has fallen: five months of rain.

What human hands made spick and span, nature has quietly reclaimed.

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Inside, damp patches have appeared on walls, and a picture has been invaded by moulds,

Front,

 

And back.

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Outside in the yard, walls that gleamed in bright paint a few months ago

Now host algae


And mosses.

 

Once proud gate towers have become outposts of an infant jungle.

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It is time to summon a workforce. The annual repaint is due.

Soon all should be clean and shining bright.

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Night Of Wrath

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“..and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.”

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Temple To The Arts

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During the monsoon rains I visit a temple dedicated to the performing arts.

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Washing The Monsoon Away

The front yard appeared to be covered with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Bleach powder had been liberally applied:

Shaji has decided the monsoon mould and algae needs addressing.

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The next morning Shaji and Sumant are busy with water-hose and  brush;

Their soaking, soft-shoe shuffle.

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Hartal Haiku

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Bandh: streets lie empty.

Monsoon sickness entraps me.

My camera sleeps.

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Powerless, lights dim.

Rain drenched cables fall silent.

Now, soliloquy.

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Bandh

Hartal

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Rain Trees And Sun

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While the monsoon continues, day-break brings new road-blocks.

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The local Rain Trees regularly shed their sodden boughs.

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To balance this annual attrition, new roadside trees are planted.

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But for now, blue skies promise – and deliver – a day of sunshine.

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Après Le Déluge

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“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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The south-west monsoon is with us until September.

After staying for several months there will be a short respite.

Then more rain: the north-east monsoon.

Five months of heavy, but fortunately, intermittent rain;

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And the parade ground given over to cattle.

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A Question Of Balance

It was one of those mornings.

The local LG Service Centre had called to say my DVD player was ready for collection, following its recent malfunction.  I decided to combine the trip with buying coffee.

The taxi driver was new to me; his driving style unnerving.

The weather was poor.

Rain

And more rain.

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For an hour, I sat in the back of the car.

The driver alternated between rapid accelerations and emergency stops. His hand continuously sounded the horn.

I felt nauseous and bad-tempered.

We finally reached our destination. But the service centre had inexplicably re-located since my last visit. A move not mentioned when they called, and signed only by the damp sheet of paper, pasted on the door of the old premises.

Their new workshop was a few kilometres away, across the city.

Forty-five minutes and several phone calls later, we found it.

After waiting a while, the DVD player was produced. I asked to see it tested.

It failed.

I sulked.

During the return journey, following yet another emergency stop, I pointedly readjusted my seat-belt.

I put my hand on the driver’s shoulder and made it clear he must ration the use of his horn.

The rest of the trip was spent in relative silence, with me half-wishing the driver would make a foolish mistake, to further justify both my opinion of him, and my irritation.

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We reached Ravi’s Coffee Shop.

Ravi, himself, was there.

The sights and smells were comforting and absorbing.

Ravi’s quiet dignity; his calm, noble face; and his gentle smile brought me to my senses.

I started to see my frustrations in perspective. I began to laugh at myself.

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Living abroad entails many changes.

One of them is the loss of language proficiency.

Facing the challenge of LG’s repair-shop, and an over enthusiastic boy-racer, my first inclination had been sarcasm: a skill I spent decades honing before retirement.

But my Malayalam is non-existent, and local English is limited.

Sarcasm achieves nothing.

A more balanced approach to life’s small frustrations is now required.

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“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration..  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less clearing up to do afterwards.”   Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Coping With Cloud

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“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it.”    Larry Kersten

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The Aftermath

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The morning calm is deceptive.

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Last night’s storm was ferocious.

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Heavy branches have fallen.

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Power lines are down.

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Outside, driving is hazardous.

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Inside, candles still splutter.

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Driving Downtown In The Rain

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I need to go downtown.

But looking out from my door, there is no escaping the monsoon.

All I can hear is the wind.

All I can see is the plentiful rain.

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Once it eases a little, deciding against the ferry, I take an auto:

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Business by the roadsides has quickly resumed.

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Work on the new bridge to the mainland has restarted.

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Only the fishing fleet remains anchored in enforced monsoon idleness.

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With errands completed,

I take the auto back across the bridge to sunshine,

colour

crowds

cattle

And all that remains of my umbrella.

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Monsoon Surgery

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In my small yard, stands an out-house and a few trees.

Monsoon rains have damaged a large branch next to the pomegranate tree.

My man Shaji makes the initial diagnosis. Urgent tree surgery is required.

Sebastian, the carpenter, is called.

He does not bring a saw: Sebastian prefers hammer and chisel.

His surgical assistant is in attendance;

As is Shaji;

And Shaji’s wife, Dalila.

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Soon the damaged branch has been neatly excised.

A post-operative audit is undertaken:

Pomegranates inspected;

The check-up completed;

Circulation to the out-house has been successfully restored.

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The Morning After, The Night Before.

It is official. The monsoon has set.

On first hearing this phrase, I thought I might be experiencing an Al Gore moment, and that the monsoon must have finished early – extremely early.

But by setting, the monsoon has in fact arrived.


When I retired to my bedroom last night, the comfort of sleep was unaccustomedly difficult to find.

Instead, I was entertained by a mighty son et lumière performance.

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For over an hour my room became the stage on which searingly bright lights, cruelly sharp shadows, deafening sound and powerful tremors fiercely interplayed.

As dawn broke I questioned if an early morning walk would be possible.

But, other than a few puddles, life had returned to normal.

The beach was beginning to  bustle:

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Footballers were back in position;

The cheerleaders their customary, sanguine selves.

A boy was opening my local tea-stand,

His first customer already waiting.

For young and old it was business as usual.

The sky was brightening,

The storm blown out.

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The Season Of Umbrellas

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Now is the season of umbrellas.

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The monsoon may still be somewhere over the Andaman Islands  but along the Kerala coastline we see its harbinger.

Looking out from my door

the trailing edge of cyclone Laila

has brought more rain.

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