At the risk of having Raj Thackeray pelt me with rotten Alphonso mangoes, I have to admit I’m unstate-riotic. (Being unstate-riotic is like being unpatriotic except that it refers to a state, not a nation.)
I’m unstate-riotic because I hate the monsoon. And hating the monsoon when you live in Mumbai is about almost the same as treason.
This state of affairs is a bit of a shock. All of May, I was extremely state-riotic. In fact, I’d spent most of the month swearing at the blue sky — the kind that’s so beloved of British poets because it has not a cloud in it — and muttering darkly about how Delhi has done it again — i.e. hijacked us Mumbaikars’ things. First our taxes to fund its infrastructure; next our clouds to give it a rather moist May.
Yet, the moment we got the clouds back, I hated the monsoon.
It could have something to do with the fact that, during the first shower, I remembered that rain is, err, wet. Which is all right if you’re indoors or wearing waterproofs, but not all right when you’re outdoors, wearing diaphanous white garments, and two hours away from a change of clothing.
It could also have something to do with the fact that, for the next three months, the news channels will show nothing but umbrella-toting reporters in the lowest-lying areas of town, sadly announcing that it’s wet.
Finally, I hate the monsoon because grey, rainy days are the best kind of days to stay home and read murder stories, but because the boss-type people insist that I work, I shall be forced to emerge from my nice, dry home, squelch past the TV rain-reporters and write this column.
And that’s a terrible thing, because I’m madly into Italian murder stories right now, and I could learn a thing or two from them about how to do away with people who annoy you, such as TV rain-reporters and unreasonable eds who order you to write a column on books and then don’t let you read. For instance, Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano books set in Sicily could show me just how to pull off a Mafia-style killing (and what to eat the next time I’m at an Italian restaurant. Montalbano is very into food). Or else, I’d get an overview of murder, Italian-style, from every province in that country courtesy Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen series. (Zen is remarkably like Indian policemen in that he constantly annoys the country’s important people and is transferred all over the place.)
But since I’m not allowed to read, I have an idea. I’ll just have Raj Thackeray pelt me with rotten Alphonsos, so I’ll have to take sick leave, which means I can lie in bed, grab a book, and think up the next column.
Between the Covers, dealing with the mysterious and not so mysterious connections between books and the world, will appear every Tuesday.