It was a rare sight. On Monday, the first day of saawan — the fifth month in the Hindu calendar — the otherwise smoggy Delhi sky was a clear blue. The day-job commuters walking down the subway stairs in Kasturba Gandhi Marg, however, did not notice the seemingly weightless monsoon puffs — grey and white — wafting past the treetops and skyscrapers.
Those at the Scindia House bus stop, too, did not look up. As a large mass of cloud, looking like Nandi bull, passed the British Council building and floated towards Regal theatre, the pedestrians continued with the daily details of their lives.
Their indifference does not mean that all Delhiites are disinterested in cloud watching. “I look at the clouds from my office garden in Sheikh Sarai,” says Ankit Kumar, an ad executive who is also the lead vocalist of Under siege, a metal band.
“It fills me with peace.” If the day is not hot, poet Indira Verma sits in the garden of her bungalow in New Friends Colony and watches the clouds. “Some of my poems are on them,” Verma says. “The clouds are nature’s beautiful creation, which has come without any organic interference.”
Of course, the cloud formation has a scientific explanation. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it is “a visible mass of particles of condensed vapor suspended in the atmosphere.” Buddhist teacher Shantum Seth loves the monsoon and is always happy when dark clouds come over his bungalow in Sector 15-A, Noida.
“When I contemplate the clouds, I’m aware that they offer the rain that greens the earth and offer the water we drink,” says Seth. “And these clouds arise from the water on the earth’s surface, so there is a cycle and we’re a part of it. In a spiritual sense, I’m the cloud and the blue sky.”
Every time she is out walking, Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan, who lives in a Pandara Road bungalow, steals moments to look up. “Each cloud tells its own story through its shape, colour and heaviness,” says Narayan. “Here you see little woolly patterns; there you see dark giant shapes portending rain.
Thumri singer Vidya Rao says that she does cloud watching 'all the time' from her apartment balcony in Mehrauli, which looks out at Qutub Minar. “The sky is such a large space and the clouds are so full of mysteries that merely by gazing at them, the narrowness of my life vanishes.”
Not all Delhiites have the luxury of living in open spaces that offers a cinemascope view of the sky. “The sky is mostly shut out from my third floor apartment in Vasundhra Enclave,” says author and art critic Ashok Vajpeyi. “In June, though, I was in Nantes, France, and almost daily I would watch the clouds in the sky and their reflection in the river Louer.”
Alas, air tickets to Europe are expensive and Delhi seldom shows cloud puffs breezily swimming in a sea of clear blue sky. “I used to look at the clouds during my school days in Lucknow,” says theatre director Sunit Tandon, who lives in Safdarjang Enclave. “Now there’s no point. The sky is usually so dusty and grey.”