In the greater scheme of things, 3 years probably means very little. When you find yourself mentally rewinding through the last 3 years however, perhaps the burden of time hangs heavier. Why has this come up ?
Not being around for the last 3 monsoon seasons, I'd almost forgotten why we're obsessed with the rains. Those who care enough have a check list of things to experience, gleefully cross off items one by one. Gastronomically, there's a bounty of items that's tied to our memories of rain. मक्का, चाय, भजिया, पकोडे, समोसे, दोसा-साम्बार ... the list of steaming hot tangy & spicy food that seduces the palate through the length & breath of India in the rain is quite likely endless.
If you are from Pune however, there's something you may just have experienced in your teens and college years. And are quite likely hankering for now, as you stare at the glinting droplets of water, the gentle roar of rain and the emerald newness of the leaves. I refer to biking in the rain.
Yes, I know you grinned.
The memory of riding your bike in the rain is something you will never forget... especially if you are from Pune, since biking is something we just do. Like eating or sleeping. Going to college in rain meant either that you wanted to get to Fergusson and spend the rest of the day drinking chai and hanging around campus or F.C road or that you... well... heck, you just wanted to get out of the house. For years, I did the commute on my Kinetic Honda.
Now, those of you in the know are aware of the Kinetic's reputation in the rain. The wheels seem to develop a mind of their own & agree with the brakes that the rider's life is rather boring and must be made umm... interesting. You've either personally experienced or seen the infamous Kinetic-skid. A bike skid is nothing nice, but Punekars & especially Kinetic owners have become rather phlegmatic about it. A greenhorn, properly horrified, will comment on how unsafe the roads are in the rains only to be greeted with a look that is quizzical or scornful. Quite likely, the greenhorn will be told that they have no idea what they're talking about and to desist before someone makes pointedly sarcastic remarks on intelligence and the lack of it. There's a method to us & our madness, you see.
I've missed the last 3 monsoons for a variety of reasons. I've missed my bike. Now I live in Bombay, where the rain culture is something else altogether. I like that too. Yet...
I'm in Pune on work. It's raining. I have to navigate quite a stretch of the NH-4 for this work.
I know my bike. I know what it's capable of. I know to respect it's qualities & limitations.
अंदाज़ it's called I believe.
I'm on the road... the rain is drumming against my helmet and I can see very little. Just a blur of the vehicles... the spaces between them. I can feel the droplets like needle points against my chest. I open the throttle... gently. Let the bike get used to the splendidness of the road. Steadily increase speed. There's a slight gap in the visor & I can hear the whistle of the wind. I cut my way through the vehicles & it feels like they are standing still. The speedometer needle indicates that the speed has hit 70 kmph.
The moment happens.
Framed between sky & earth,
Embraced by the rain,
I am alone.
I am soaring.
Song for the moment: Original Fire - Audioslave