Sunday, July 5, 2009
Westerners are agreed: July and August are the worst months in which to visit India.
But Indians love monsoon season.
They sing monsoon songs called "kajali" (dark). "Raga" is the general group of classical songs, each using only 5-8 notes; each raga can only be sung in the appropriate season.
Meena Malhar, manager of the guest house, sang for the school this monsoon song:
Chayi gana /I have to sing. The black clouds are up in the sky Making everything dark.
Indians know this song; one little boy sang along with her.
She accompanied herself on the harmonium, and a drummer also played with her (see photo of children listening to her).
Indians look forward to the life-giving rain after the long dry winter months.
They don't mind getting wet.
Other photos: clouds before afternoon rain begins, view from fabric store of rain in the street, the Ganges in the afternoon just before rain, and our group trapped in an internet cafe waiting for the rain to ease up so we can leave.
After we trekked all the way to this internet spot, we found that only one of five computers was working, and two people were ahead of us in line.
When the rain eased a bit, the woman offering the access in her home told her six-year-old son to lead us to another internet place. We got soaked dashing three or four twisting blocks to satisfy our thirst for access.
Indians are patient with the rain. When we arrived in Varanasi by plane, we had to walk down steps from the Spice Jet and walk across the tarmac, just as the rain was beginning.
We all made it into the terminal without getting too wet, but we waited 30-40 minutes for the rain to ease up before our bags could be unloaded from the plane.
In India, the monsoon rules.
The India edition of Good Housekeeping magazine for July 2009 says, "Special Monsoon Issue: Decor tips, beauty advice, family fun, pet care (& banish health woes!)."
Later note: north India has not had enough rain during this monsoon season. A drought has been declared in the Varanasi area.