The first showers are here and the oppressive heat is gone. But if you're dreading the drenched commutes, flooding and traffic jams, calm down - with soothing music, hot cuppas and comfort food.
Oh dear, the pre-monsoon showers are here. Once the rains begin, it's going to be a long season of damp clothes, potholes and muck between the toes. Aren't you dreading it?
What are you complaining about? Summer's finally over and the city no longer feels like an oven! We have a long season of cool breezes, spontaneous walks in the rain, steaming pakodas and weekend trekking to look forward to!
All that sounds charming, but how much can you romanticise the hours stuck in slow traffic on bumpy roads, or in cramped, leaky local trains?
I don't get your grouse with the monsoon. If you're a Mumbaiite, cloudy skies should make you happy! As for the long rides to and from work, you can always get the better of crawling traffic by listening to some lilting monsoon ragas on your iPod. Besides, there's always the promise of a warm bath once you get home.
Yes, but doesn't the prospect of walking on muddy roads, with squishy shoes splattering your clothes with muck, make you weary?
You sure have a knack for sucking the joy out of the season, don't you? Slimy toes are a small price to pay for the joy of being able to splash around in puddles. And if slush and grime stress you out, think about how relaxed you will feel when you dip your feet in warm water at home, relax with a good movie and sip on some flavoured hot chocolate. Blissful, isn't it?
I guess so. But what about all the diseases floating in the air as it pours? I always catch a cold in the monsoon, and spend three months nursing my sore throat.
That, again, is collateral damage caused by a beautiful season. Anyway, that's what comfort food is for, isn't it? When you're wet and cold, you can nurse your sniffles with soothing flavoured tea, drink to your health with a bowl of chicken soup, or just whip up some instant noodles to please your throat. And when you're better, it's time to step out again to enjoy some crackling corn-cobs by the beach!
Your enthusiasm is contagious. Would like to join me for umbrella-shopping?
Sure, if you promise not to open any umbrellas while we wait for waves to spray us along Marine Drive…
Do say: I'm singing in the rain…
Don't say: Is that a puddle or a pothole?
The book | The world is not enough
The late Ray Bradbury resisted the term 'science-fiction writer' all his life, although he was renowned as one. He also seemed to hate technology, refusing to have his books converted to electronic formats, and once lamented that there were 'too many cell phones. . .too many internets and we have to get rid of these machines'.
The Martian Chronicles, his debut book, is remarkable in that it has almost nothing to do with science, or technology. His writing is graceful and unburdened by lengthy and jargon-ridden explanations that litter so many other sci-fi works. It is a series of fragmentary short stories, which create a history greater than the sum of its parts.
His characters refuse to conform to clichés and narrative conventions of the sci-fi genre. When four men from Earth land their spaceship on Mars and knock on the doors of the Martians, they are shunted from one household to another until they are locked up in a lunatic asylum. This party of Earthmen is the second expedition to Mars, and it takes Earth several such expeditions to overrun Mars - and turn it into a rude copy of their home planet.
In a particularly powerful story, Bradbury simply records a conversation between a Martian and an Earthman (the Earthman is now part of the ruling race). Such stories often turn into formless trifles where the writer attempts, and fails, at Socratic dialogue.
But Bradbury sidesteps this neatly, by making the two interlocutors' perspective influence the way they see reality: where the Martian sees a prosperous city, the Earthman sees a ruin, and where the Martian sees trackless ocean, the Earthman sees the new Earth settlement.
To Bradbury, the lifelong technophobe, all civilisation (which, today, is a synonym for new technology) is ephemeral, and in the eye of the beholder.
- Karthik Balasubramanian
In store | One man's scrap is another man's furniture
Designer Karan Bakshi spent his early years tinkering about in his army dad's workshop, using scrap material to fit onto new furniture.
Thus was born Artfeat Designs, a Delhi-based company launched by Bakshi earlier this year to "repurpose and upcycle mass-produced products and develop funky and functional ones".
Since last month, Bakshi has started shipping his creations to Mumbai as well.
If you scour through Artfeat's Facebook page, you'll find an old, bright yellow sewing machine, which holds a glass table together.
"The pedal still works," says Bakshi, "and it's a great stressbuster." Pair that with Bakshi's bar stool fitted with an old bicycle seat, or a large black chair with the body of a maroon scooter attached to its back, and you're good to go places at work.
- Pankti Mehta
The film | An accidental truth
The 1960s in Greece are as much a time of tragedy, as they are of farce. There can be only one truth, the official, state-sanctioned version of it. Z, the French political thriller which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, centres itself on the days leading up to and leading on from the death of a prominent Left wing doctor. It's an open and shut case for the viewers: the good doctor, a deputy leader of the opposition party, has been assassinated in broad public view, but at every level the lies and cover-ups are so accomplished, that things are really not that simple.
Returning from a public lecture, on May 22, 1963, Gregorios Lambrakis, is struck fatally by a miscreant outside the venue in a speeding vehicle. The matter is dressed up as a "traffic accident". When an investigation is launched into the case, disturbing realities emerge as versions fail to match, witnesses mysteriously get attacked and officials seek to interfere to sanitise the nature of the findings. The investigator in charge, is a dogged man, and the film's moral core is powered by this doggedness.
The mystery is not who killed the doctor, or how or why. We know all these things, as does the investigator, the ruling group and the opposition. The mystery is whether any of this will hit the fan, whether anyone will be implicated and if the 'truth' will actually emerge.
The film's conclusion appears to be triumphant but even that triumph is temporary. Idealism is all very well, but somewhere it gets crushed in the rolling political juggernaut.
- Bhavya Dore