Humour: Rain, rain, come again

For the love of rains and hot bhajjis

Have the monsoons ended?

Only recently, I read that the Indian Meteorological Department has announced that this year’s monsoons are officially over. Needless to say, it is raining cats and dogs right now. Clearly, the charge of monsoon regulations is handled by Mr. Murphy’s department. I can imagine him, a middle-aged gentleman with a bushy moustache under a bulbous nose that is always quivering with indignation, thundering, “What’s that you say? Monsoons over? Nonsense! We’ll show them — turn on the taps again.”

At home, I seem to be the only one delighted by this turn of affairs. “It’s raining!” I say in delight, hopping up and down on the balcony. I stretch one hand out to catch the rain and the other towards the house, where my two dogs sit ramrod-straight on the sofa, staring at me. “Come, boys, come and look at the rain,” I call to them.

One seems a little worried about my sanity. (I can see that the lady in the flat opposite echoes his sentiments). The other looks terrifyingly like my mother. “Stop this fooling around,” he seemed to be saying, “And come inside before you catch a cold.”

The husband is no fan of the rains either. “Neither would you be if you had to drive 16 km through it from Whitefield to Indiranagar,” he snaps. “Take the car,” I tell him reasonably. But this provokes an extreme reaction. “Potholes,” he splutters. “Overflowing drains. Water-logged underpasses. Floating debris.”

“I get it,” I say hastily, returning his reality check.

Of course, the only way to really enjoy the rain is with a cup of ginger tea and a plate of piping hot bajjis. I am suddenly reminded of the raw and ripe banana bajjis my paati used to make when we returned home from school. Crispy and golden on the outside and soft and flavourful inside, those were truly spectacular bajjis. I used to think her secret ingredient was love, until she told me it was hing

“If you go and buy besan, I will make bajjis,” I said. But the husband did not hear me. Maybe because by a strange coincidence, he had raised the volume on his laptop at the exact same instant. So, I decided to go out and get the besan myself. I put on my raincoat, grabbed a shopping bag, and stepped out.

In just two minutes, I was soaking wet. (The raincoat manufacturers were not to be blamed, as I learned later from the injured-looking salesman; “Madam, read the label. This coat is ‘water-resistant’, not ‘water-proof’”) In a particular stretch, I had to wade through knee-deep water and lost a slipper. It seemed hardly worthwhile to sprain my toes trying to hold onto the other one. An hour or so later, I was back home, bedraggled and barefoot, but with bags of besan.

My paati used to say bajjis are the simplest and easiest snacks to make at home. She was obviously lying. I have no idea why. The besan batter is supposed to coat the potato slices evenly, but it didn’t want to. Instead, it coated my hands. And my hair. And the kitchen countertop. Then it refused to fall off the spatula. And when I shook the spatula too hard, it plopped into the oil and broke into pieces.

“Deconstructed bajjis,” my husband quipped when I laid a platter of deep-fried potato slices and another of deep-fried besan bits in front of him. Then he noticed that I was still holding a hot spatula. “They taste even better separately,” he said quickly.

I had come home wet and miserable. Now, after an hour at the stove, I was hot and miserable. Outside, the rain had completely stopped and the sun was out. It was now so hot and bright that we had to partly draw the curtains.

We sat in silence and chewed on the broken batter bits. Behind us, the newsreader on TV said, “The monsoons are officially over, an IMD spokesperson confirmed.”

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