I can report that our Great Migration was successful. We’re now re-installed in our Pune flat, having arrived mid-monsoon. We’ll be here until next summer. I was astounded at how the arrival of the rains has changed everything. The region is now green. Very, very green.
First, on the car trip from Mumbai to Pune, inland and up the ridge that marks the edge of the Deccan Plateau (Pune is at about 1800 feet above sea level), the dry and scrubby hills were transformed. Where before there was dust, some sprigs of tenacious, prickly looking shrubs and cacti, are now pillows of lush vegetation and soft grasses. Rocky ledges are now waterfalls, with greater and lesser cascades threading down the slopes, joining to make fast-moving creeks. Dry stream beds that were little more than stagnant puddles and sand shoals are now broad brown rivers, filling their channels bank to bank, and running fast enough to make rapids. We saw newly sprouted fields, and families out planting rice in flooded paddies in village areas. In the cities I saw older people tending the vegetable patches and potted plants which have appeared everywhere a scrap of space can be found. Unfortunately, all of our attempts to take photos showing the waterfalls and green fields were unsuccessful. Here’s the best of the lot:
Through the heavy but intermittent rain people were going about their business as usual, but wetter. The scooter riders were still out in force, but soaked to the skin. Likewise the pedestrians. So were the cars, but on waterlogged, slippery roads. Reduced visibility, road construction pothole puddles, and wet pavement make driving here even more hazardous than usual. I was very thankful that Mr. Rupesh was at the wheel. We did see many accidents and breakdowns on the road, mostly mini-cars that had bottomed out when their tiny wheels tried to swim through deep puddles, or heavy lorries with flats or broken axles from encountering potholes at speed. Sad to say, we did pass a couple of serious accidents with injuries, where two-wheelers and larger vehicles collided.
In spite of the rain, people here are happy to see it. They don’t seem to be all that inconvenienced. In the US, if it rains on our vacation, we’re sad and annoyed. Here the rain is seen as a blessing. Families plan vacations and outdoor activities FOR the rainy season, and TV commercials are full of happy children, frolicking with family in downpours. However embracing the rainy season does occasionally end up in tragedy. Monsoon is also a season of thanksgiving and religious devotion. Earlier this month thousands of unfortunate pilgrims were swept away or stranded by floodwaters in the northern provinces. But in even in the face of terrible loss, the rains are the lifeblood of the land, and are very welcome here.
Finally, here’s the view from our balcony. The shot of the sports festival on the left was taken back in late April, just before the rains. The one on the right, not ten minutes ago: