Written by Sonam Singh
I steal a moment between endless “virtual” meetings to catch a glimpse of monsoon from my window. The raindrops splattering on the un-dusted windowpane lights my face up and brings in a sense of calm. The sort of calm that follows a storm! I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the smell of earth. The familiarity of Petrichor is so deep that it floods my memory with fond reminiscences from the past that takes me back to times when life was simpler and less demanding, as reassuring as an old friend’s hug!
June-July in Bangalore used to possess unearthly charm a couple of decades ago. This was when Bangalore was just a “retirement paradise”, not painted binary – 0s and 1s as we know of it today. I remember the sulk on children’s face when rains played spoil sport and wrecked their evening “outdoor” play time. We, as a generation were blessed to be untouched and unadulterated by digital advent. The whole shebang of getting drenched in the rains, splashing muddy water over ill-fitting uniforms, smiling through braces, haggling with friends for some extra space under the roof of a kind Auntie who let us sludge her spick and span veranda and finally rushing home to dry up and get into warm clothes used to be a daily monsoon ritual.
Back at home, we would get an earful for forgetting the raincoats (oh yeah, we had them in cool prints too!) and also asked to freshen up for hot snacks – all in the same breath. Parents had a knack of scolding and stuffing our mouths with treats at the same time. There was no act in it, they dint need to clarify their intent. We as kids understood their concern. We were happy to gorge on hot Banana Bajjis (no way in hell I am going to call it Banana Fritters!) and Onion Pakoras (I don’t even know the fancy name for this one. Onion Fritters maybe?).
Rains were followed by power cuts! Great excuse for skipping homework, which only meant one thing –more playtime. Antakshari was the king of all power cut games, where the whole family sat around a dimly lit candle and crooned Bollywood songs. Yes, the same Antakshari which is now played ONLY during employee engagement activities around a bonfire in a secluded jungle, or at weddings during Mehendi. As kids, we’d keep notes of songs starting with tough letters. Mental notes, not post-its! Such was the dedication and winner got nothing but the pride of winning!
Singing was then followed by dinner around the candle (again not calling it candlelit dinner! Allergic to anything fancy). Eating in dim light meant transferring Subjis onto siblings’ plates without them noticing it and hiding the grin of accomplishment. You can call it Subji, Bhaaji, Pallya, Poriyal, Saagu but not sautéed/ stir-fried vegetables garnished with olive oil. This is what we eat today in our well-lit apartments with power back up.
Bedtime was an early affair (As early as 9 PM!) and an arduous process. The bedding had to be set every night, freshly laid out in the hall FOR the kids and BY the kids. We kept score of whose turn it is to roll the mattress on the floor, spread the sheets and draw the mosquito net over the bed. Happy were the days when we slept to the sound of splashing rain and crickets. The melody of the rainy night put us to sleep in seconds soon after we hit the hard pillow.
My nostalgia jolts back to reality when my digital servant buzzes to remind me of the next meeting. I sip the lukewarm green tea and head back to the place unfamiliar with power cuts and Petrichor.
Sonam Singh is a voracious reader and an aspiring writer. Professionally, she is a Strategy development specialist at one of the Aerospace majors.