"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)

rain

From The Rising Of The Sun To Its Setting: Part 3

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Afternoon:
sun shines through rain;
the wonder of a timeless covenant.

Picture taken at Kopua Monastery


Between The Showers

Morning errands can now be started.

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Pictures taken in Fort Cochin.


Monsoon Intermission

The rain subdues into gentle drips
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Picture taken early this morning in Fort Cochin


Braving The Monsoon

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Rain Stopped Play

Das, my regular driver, waits with Anu
contemplating our journey home.
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“Rain stopped play” is a phrase familiar to cricket followers in England, where the climate is reliably unreliable.


Seeking Consolation

We were booked to stay in Pelling for two nights:
An area renowned for its staggering views of the high Himalayan peaks. 

Before leaving Kerala, I had seen this picture on the hotel’s website:

Unfortunately, our arrival coincided with poor weather.

Awakening the next morning, I could hear no rain. I drew back the curtains with great expectations.
And was greeted by this:

Alternating dense mists and heavy rain persisted for the duration of our stay.

The hotel was not set up for wi-fi broadband and, in this high mountainous terrain, my mobile could find no signal.
No views, no email, no sms.
We sought the consolations of the flesh:


Sikkim cuisine was sampled,
And I seem to remember we took a couple of Hits
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Taj Redux?

Our driver, Ravinder, had looked after us brilliantly in Delhi.

Today he was to take us to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
It was a five-hour journey through busy traffic, variable roads and worsening weather.

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During my first visit to India, the Taj Mahal was high on our must see list.
My family fulfilled this “tryst with destiny”.
I did not.
Though tantalisingly close to the Taj, I spent the allocated day completely unable to leave my hotel bathroom. 

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On this, my second visit, I watched what I was eating with greater care and, as we arrived in Agra, my bowels remained pleasingly quiescent.

But the same could not be said for the weather.
Unseasonal monsoon rains were falling so heavily that the long-awaited tour was still unattainable.
Again I spent my Taj-time in an hotel bedroom,

One step closer to the Taj Mahal, I reflected, than a bathroom. 

The guide hired by Ravinder suggested we delay our scheduled early morning return to Delhi. We would all meet up again at 6:00 in the morning.
If it was dry, we might take our tour before breakfast, when the climate was cool and the site less crowded.

We awoke to some mist
But no rain.
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The sheer size, perfect symmetry and breathtaking beauty of this monument to love and loss are staggering.

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The Taj Mahal’s impact is almost overwhelming.

 Its drama touches people in different ways.

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But the experience remains unforgettable.

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All photographs taken on this tour of the Taj Mahal.


Northern Exposure: Part 11

Singing in the rain…

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Photographs taken in Pelling, North India.


Bringing In The Sheaves

The combination of poorly maintained roads
and prolonged rain 

Does little to make harvesting any easier

 For India’s faceless army of labourers.
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Pictures taken in Cochin.


The Chance Of Scattered Showers

It’s a contingency we learn to expect.

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Class Of 35


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The rain had just stopped.
The ground was decidedly damp.

The boys were beautifully behaved.
They sat in quiet though confident expectation of becoming muddied.
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A Growth Spurt

A small banana shoot was planted in my yard a few months back.

After seven months of tropical sunshine and monsoon rains, it has grown a little:

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Fruit, I am informed, will take several more months.

But meanwhile, the leaves can be used as plates and some of the flowers, once they arrive, can be served in a masala mix.

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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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A Polished Performance

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“To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!”

The Mikado,  W. S. Gilbert

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I have never quite forgotten the unpleasant, childhood experience of dental procedures.

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Driven perhaps by residual angst, I pay slightly obsessive attention to dental flossing. But a couple of nights ago, the process dislodged what felt like a large pebble.

Exploring my teeth with my tongue gave the impression of a vast jagged cavity.

It was clearly time for a trip to my Cochin dentist: a man of great skill combined with the gentle touch.

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Having hired an auto

with an unusual name

and made a brief, refuelling pit-stop, the rains began in earnest.

The driver attached tarpaulins to the sides of the auto in an attempt to keep us dry.

Thus I arrived incognito at the dentist, as if travelling in purdah.

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Fortune smiled:

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One porcelain filling had a very small chip missing.

An X-ray revealed the rest of tooth to be fine.

Dr Emmanuel’s recommendation: polish the newly rough edge to smoothness.

Then, leave well alone.

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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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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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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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Raindrops

 

The sky darkens. Rumblings of thunder become longer and louder.

Gentle raindrops begin to fall.

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