If you like this. Go like Shachi
Shachi, to us was our Head girl's little sis in school. Like her name she was this beautiful girl, just like Goddess Indrani. Infact I remember learning Lord Indra's wife name because of Shachi's. If you ask any Annite they would have expected Shachi to follow in her father's footsteps into IAS, we knew her as the younger daughter of the Municipal Commissioner in the years well after school. Then one day she commented here.
There was a gap, like it happens with schoolmates who were a batch before and after. Then one day, I was amazed by a sketch on FB. It was vivid and child like innocence reflected in it. The detailing blew me away. A 'tap' later as I landed on the page, I was pleasantly surprised.
I found Shachi the artist! I connected up again with her. I love her work and thought you would love it too. So here she is writing about her not religious yet all the memories of Shravan and the happiness one associates with it. Though archetypal this is what makes Monsoon memories of true blue Mumbaikars. I am glad she is sharing one of her self portraits and memories with us here. Thanks Shachi!
What a good start to our Shravan Maasi Harsh Manasi event!
"I was asked by Anjali, to send her a little note/recipe that showed how I celebrate Shraavan Maasi rituals. I had to pause there for a bit and wonder…were there any rituals? I didn't know! My house was rather non-traditional and we didn't follow too many religious rituals. I tried to think back to the good old Mumbai monsoons. As a student at St. Anne's high school, monsoon rituals involved getting ready for school, making sure I DIDN'T wear my socks, but took them balled up in my bag…because even a mild Bombay rain means getting your socks wet as you walk through the puddles and splashes made by cars on your way to school. The smell of that intensely plastic raincoat…making you feel hot and muggy inside, but not really doing a great job of keeping you all dry. The horrible duck-feet like black rain shoes that I despised, because they never fit my very narrow feet. Getting to the class room and defeating the purpose of carrying dry socks, by wiping your wet feet with them before putting them on! The wet umbrellas everywhere and the damp feel of wet sleeves and hemlines. But when it rained outside while class was on, it felt like some exciting adventure. Like we were marooned on a great ship with waves lashing the rocking boat. It was day-dreaming weather! It just didn't seem right to listen to the properties of Hydrochloric acid and crops grown in Gujarat.
The first rains of monsoon meant gathering up all the like minded pals from the building and going down to get wet wet wet! Then walking in the rain to Nariman Point, to have hot bhutta. Watching those red sparks glow and fly off the coal and waiting to get your turn for the perfect monsoon combination….dark clouds, rain, bhutta and great big waves crashing against those odd tetrapods near NCPA. EIther we could add in a garam cutting chai…or then just head home, giggling and gossiping, wet and happy. Then the rush to get home and dry off. Snuggle under a razai and re-read the gloomy romantic Wuthering Heights while waiting for mom to come out with kanda-bhaji, and chaha with aale (ginger)! I also loved bananas fried in the remaining batter. They were crisp on the outside and warm, sweet and soft on the inside.
Monsoon in Bombay meant sitting in my balcony watching the soccer players on the football field get so muddy it was hard to tell who was in which team. Watching the huge rainclouds come slowly over the Taj, and move over to the High courts and Rajabai Tower. The gradual drizzle that got so thick, you could hardly see a few feet away from the building. The circle of light that shone from the street light, highlighting only the raindrops as they passed under. The majestic gulmohar trees welcoming the rain.
Later of course there was the damp walk to Churchgate to get to work. The even muddier walk to Bandra station and the long wait in the line for a rickshaw. The need to sit in the middle of the rickshaw to avoid getting splashed by cars. My lovely cozy (because it was about 10 square feet) office, where we made hot chai from the electric kettle, accompanied by too many milk bikis to be good for us. The tiny ancient radio that played bhoole bisre geet…or Jeeturaj on FM, while we designed fun things for MTV. Walking back home from Churchgate late at night in the rain. Enjoying the solitude and getting a thrill every time, out of walking down a gulmohar shaded lane, past old art-deco buildings with names like Sunshine and Moonlight. Watching cheesy baarish songs on TV ('dekho jara dekho barkha ki lladi'…and 'rain is falling chhama chham chham'! and DDLJ with Kajol cavorting in her little skirt in the rain :D, along with the classics…Raj Kapoor and Nargis under an umbrella, 'Rim jhim gire saawan', with young brooding Amitabh Bacchan.
I have no memories of religious rituals we enjoyed during the monsoons…but all these were my monsoon rituals, the memory of which still make me nostalgic, as I write from a hot desert far far away, where raindrops almost evaporate before they hit the ground and the rain is never hard enough or long enough to recreate those wonderful memories."
We all follow our own Shravan maasi rituals like her when young. Of kanda bhajji, alyacha chaha, bhutta and snuggles under the blanket!
Then we are in a phase is life when we start becoming religious and start adoring those other rituals. Looking forward to hear from more of you what Shravan means to you and how it is celebrated in your homes. Do drop your comments here for Shachi.