Chasing the monsoon
• Price — Rs 250
• Publication — Penguin
Monsoon is central to the lives of Indians. Not only is it important for agriculture, it also forms the pivot on which the culture of the country revolves and forms the very essence of Indianness.
The book, Chasing the Monsoon, a travelogue by Alexander Frater, provides a delightful insight into the country while tracing the movement of the rain clouds. The author’s journey with the rain clouds begins in Kerala where the monsoon arrives first, usually on its due date, June 1.
Arriving in God’s own country, the writer makes several trips to the meteorology department office and his interactions there make for very interesting reading. The bated breath with which a whole nation awaits the weatherman’s word on the arrival of the rains, the process through which the Met department gauges the mood of the weather — like releasing balloons to learn about air pressure and how Kerala’s tourism industry thrives on the monsoon all depict how central it is to the lives of the people in this country.
The author wants to trace the movement of the monsoon clouds till Cherrapunji, which records the heaviest rainfall in the country — so much so that it becomes difficult to bury the dead during the rainy season.
And in the process, the bureaucratic red-tape, the political and ethnic turmoil in the country, all are effectively portrayed. Monsoon is not just about the ethereal beauty of the windswept rainy season, it is also about the havoc that the floods wreak and the festivals that are celebrated, like Teej in north India.
The painstaking research, the genuineness of the account are all amply reflected in the work, which, in the words of a critic, is like the ‘freshness after a downpour’.