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My First Monsoon (and Rain Dance!)

July 25, 2010

When I envisioned my return to Delhi, I had images in my mind of a city transformed into a lush, green jungle by the annual monsoon.  Every night, I imagined, I would hear raindrops pitter-pattering away on the roof, and every morning I would awaken to a city washed fresh and clean by the previous night’s rains.  Maybe I would even spot a few tropical birds having their morning baths in the crystal-clear dewdrops that had not yet been evaporated by the sun’s first rays.

When I actually arrived in Delhi, though, aside from a few murky puddles and the oppressive humidity that hung in the air, there was little sign of any rain.  Friends and family told us that the rains had begun, but that the showers were short-lived and sporadic.  Apparently, Delhi’s monsoons have been like this for the past few years – there is an occasional, noteworthy shower or storm, but otherwise the rains are disappointing and inadequate for those who rely on the water to ensure healthy crops and good harvests, and to bring some relief from the otherwise sultry weather.

There have been one or two impressive storms in Delhi since I arrived.  One evening there was a fantastic thunderstorm that awoke me from a

A photo that Amrit took from our balcony during one of last year's monsoon showers

lazy late-afternoon nap by slamming our balcony door shut.  For at least an hour there was a constant rumble of thunder, and the sky was illuminated by lightning flashes every thirty seconds or so.  A few days ago, too, we had a slow and steady rain that lasted for half of the day.  It cooled the city down considerably, but also left some remarkable, lake-like puddles (one of which Amrit and I almost got stuck in as we were driving behind Humayun’s Tomb.  I swear the tires of the Gypsy were completely submerged!  We were lucky to not have to wade out of there.)  Aside from these few instances, though, the city remains dry on most days, and Delhiites continue to stare imploringly at the clouds that appear to be laden with rain, but that refuse to let slip all but a few meager drops.

But, as I discovered this past weekend, the well-to-do of Delhi aren’t content to sit by idly waiting for the rains.  Instead, they make their own rain – and then they dance!

This is called (not surprisingly) a Rain Dance.  Apparently there are always a handful of Rain Dance parties during the summer and monsoon seasons.  Basically, there’s a DJ or some kind of music, a dance floor, and an overhead sprinkler-system rigged up to simulate a monsoon shower, and douse party-goers with gallons and gallons of water as they dance.  (Okay, so this probably isn’t the most environmentally-conscious kind of party, but my, was it fun…)

Delhi Gymkhana Club - Set up for the Rain Dance

On Saturday I went to Delhi Gymkhana Club’s annual Rain Dance with Amrit and my mother-in-law.  The main lawn, where the dance was held, was set up beautifully with coordinating yellow and green table sets, and strands of twinkling lights decorating all of the trees.

I had such a blast dancing with Amrit in the “rain”.  We had to cuff our jeans, remove our sandals, and dance barefoot, because the water on the dance floor was already up to our ankles, and more continued to pour down by the minute!  We danced with kids and old folks alike to Bollywood remixes, and I even caught a few snippets of Pitbull, Usher, and Justin Bieber songs thrown into the mix.  And, to add to all of that, I even won a prize for having traveled from overseas – a set of ceramic mugs that we used to drink our coffee the following morning.

I’m still anxiously awaiting the full onslaught of the monsoon in Delhi, but until then, I’m happy to keep dancing away in this newly discovered kind of “rain”.

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