“Yeh daulat bhi le lo, yeh shauharat bhi le lo, bhale chheen lo mujhse meri jawaani, Magar mujhko lauta do bachpan ka saawan, woh kaagaz ki kashti woh baarish ka paani”.….. (a popular hindi song by Jagjit Singh) (Take away my wealth, my status and even my youth if you will, but return to me the monsoons of my childhood, those paper boats and those rain drops) What is it about the Indian monsoon that it evokes inexplicable feelings and yearnings? The first monsoon shower is awaited in all parts of the country with eagerness, hope and anticipation. After all, this puts an official end to the Indian summer and as you watch the parched earth greeting the rain with abandon, you cannot but experience some of it. The sense of joy and wild abandon touches a common chord in all, cutting across the barriers of age, class, social status and IQ. The Indian summer is harsh and has to be endured every year for at least three months. The summer does have its redeeming features – mangoes(which get sweeter as the temperature soars), blooms of fragrant madhumalti and mogra and the call of the koel. But these are small mercies and ways to beat the heat remains the dominant preoccupation. The heat, dust and the weariness of the body and mind have traditionally been kept at bay with cooling agents – cold water baths, thin cotton clothing, sherbets, water cooled in earthern pitchers. Believe me, these work better than the air conditioners and the refrigerators! If only we had the patience and the time to try them out! You have to go through the Indian summer to be a part of the magic of the monsoon that follows. The monsoons advance from the Arabian sea and hit the Kerala coast in the first week of June. It advances up the konkan coast and towards the east, covering almost half the country by the third week of June, leaving the northern and north western parts of the country thirsting and longing for the monsoon rains. And after that first spell of rain, the trees look freshly washed and are a treat to the sore eyes, the wind is cool and you sleep very well that night. The woes of continuous rains thereafter will surely follow but it does not take away the deep sense of joy and peace that pervades at the time of arrival of monsoon. It is also a great time to travel. Wear sensible footwear, carry an umbrella and don’t worry too much about clothes getting a little wet and you can have an enjoyable time. Driving on a long and winding road on a rainy day or standing at the door of the train watching the rain- drenched countryside pass by with an occasional spray caressing your face, you will feel so alive. I intend to be childlike and greet the monsoons with joy, let go of my inhibitions and apprehensions and get drenched in the first showers of the monsoon this year.