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For ‘achche din’, embrace monsoon wholeheartedly

In many ways, football is a metaphor for how we cope with the rain, and the battle against elements, necessitating clever manoeuvring to score are symptomatic to living the Mumbai monsoon.

mumbai Updated: Jun 29, 2018 14:28 IST
Ayaz Memon
Ayaz Memon
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai monsoon,football
Rains test the mettle of Mumbaiites, says columnist Ayaz Memon.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Walking past the Oval Maidan last weekend, I stopped by to see a bunch of boys play football. They all seemed in the 10-12 years age group and were playing with palpable aggression, exhorting each other raucously, all inspired I suspect, by the ongoing World Cup.

There was a lull in the rain, but the ground was slushy. Amid a lot of dodging and heaving, slipping and falling, there were some impressive moves too, however. I waited long enough to see one of the teams win, which was celebrated with great zeal as somersaults — front and back — by a couple of players showed. Football has always been the monsoon sport in Mumbai. Tournaments at every level, from school to state — and even national if the city is the nominated venue which is rare these days, alas – are played between June and September when the rains take over.

But in many ways, football is also a metaphor for how we cope in these months of rain. The rough and tumble, scramble, rush and crush, battle against elements, necessitating clever manoeuvring to overcome hardships and score a goal -- intrinsic to the sport -- are symptomatic to living the Mumbai monsoon. Rains test the mettle of Mumbaiites. It brings out their ingenuity and inventiveness in dealing with situations beyond their control. It is only the weak-hearted, the perpetual cribbers, moaners and groaners who find the season painful, stressful, upsetting and disorienting.

The best way to cope with the Mumbai monsoon is to embrace it wholeheartedly I believe.

There is a magic about it, explicit and implicit, which must be enjoyed. It changes the physical environment dramatically, influences how we eat, dress, our state of mind. Braving the rain, occasionally getting drenched, can even be therapeutic.

One can relive Lionel Messi’s brilliant touch play that brought him his first goal this World Cup, or get over Germany’s premature ouster if you are that country’s diehard fan. Rejoice at a first job or get over the blues of losing a plum post. Yodel if new love fills the heart, or sing a dirge if suffering a broken one.The spectrum of passions, sentiments and moods that the monsoon so gloriously lends itself was often captured eloquently in Hindi movie songs in the past, before the emphasis in cinema shifted from real people and situations to the largely delusional (read aspirational!) ones nowadays.

I’ve always found the monsoon uplifting and educating. A walk from Nariman Point opposite Air India building (soon to be acquired by JNPT if reports are right) to Chowpatty when rain is beating down hard and the wind is howling, can be a test of endurance and willpower.

One memorable monsoon, we took a trip to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park with naturalist Sunjoy Monga who exposed a whole new world of plants, birds, insects, animals: less than an hour or two for those living even in far-flung places!

There are countless opportunities to make the monsoon truly memorable though many may allege that I am being too sanguine about the troubles that most Mumbaiites have to endure, largely to do with commuting, which can’t be offset by esoteric delights.

This part is undoubtedly true too. Pot-holed roads, for instance, are a bugbear that has grown into a monstrosity and the anger of citizens is not to be understated. It’s a problem that not only affects Mumbai’s efficiency but also its global image.

In fact, there is a solution to the problem, but frankly evident only as a half-truth. For instance, when the Prime Minister was in Mumbai last week, the road that was caved in near Metro cinema was repaired overnight. As it should be for everyone.

This shows that quick solutions are possible in most aspects of our lives, but sadly only for those in power. For the vast majority this remains a chimera, with a rain cheque for ‘achche din’ as promise.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 11:00 IST