First time when I saw children in North India getting drenched in the rain with the full permission of their parents, I was amazed. One thing we, the children in South India were strongly forbidden to do was to get wet in the rain. While in the north, people believed that the first shower after the long, dry summer had the property of keeping off the prickly heat, the view in South was totally different. Since we did not have such clearly demarcated seasons, particularly in Bangalore (and Karnataka), an occasional or accidental soak in the rain was believed to bring all sorts of sicknesses— from simple cough and cold to fever and pneumonia. But the modern theory says that getting wet has nothing to do with catching the bugs. They are purely due to the viruses prevalent in the season.
So, while I don’t remember ever getting wet in the rain in my childhood, the reverse was the case during my college days. Bangalore is situated at an altitude of 3000 ft from sea level and has an undulating landscape. Probably due to this, not only do we have different weathers during the day, we also have different patterns of the rains across the city. The rains would normally start around 4 pm, let off for an hour or so in the evening and again pour down in the night. A nice sunny morning would dawn innocuously the next day. Moreover, as we set out walking home in the evening from the college, it would be pouring at one place, drizzling at the other and absolutely dry in another area. It would be funny to see people walking with raincoats and umbrellas in an area where it never rained.
So, even if we got wet at some point, we would arrive home quite dry. But, when we came home soaking wet, what a treat would be waiting for us there!
Of course, mother would chide us for not taking shelter anywhere on the way and waiting for the rains to stop. We had a standard reply, “How can we stand with the sari clinging to our body, when so many men are around?” But soon, she would ask us to change into dry clothes. By the time we did that she would come with hot, steaming cups of coffee. After this we would be asked to lie down on a mat with our hair spread on a cane basket under which a plate of burning pieces of charcoal would be kept into which Turmeric and fragrant resins like Sambrani and Halumaddi would be fed. The fragrant smoke emanating would not only keep the cold away but also would make the hair fragrant. Of course it would kill the mosquitoes in the house too. No fancy hair dryers for us in those days.
After my marriage, I found that Ramu too was quite fond of getting drenched in the rain. We would not only watch movies in the open air theatre in the camp in the pouring rain with or without umbrellas and raincoats, but would also drive down to city on his BSA bike without protection, marveling at the way the wet local bayees and thayees had their tucked pleats perfectly bisecting their ample rears.
So, it was indeed a sight to see the other day when Ramu went for his morning walk at 4.30 am in the pre-monsoon shower with thunder and lightning lashing. He always claims never to have missed his morning walk- rain or shine. What ‘shine’ can you have at that hour? Certainly not ‘sunshine’. You can only have ‘moonshine’, sorry ‘moon light’.
Anyway, with an umbrella protecting his vulnerable head, he thoroughly enjoyed his lonely walk in the rain.
As for me, it is ages since I got wet in the rain