It rains all over India, but we Punekars have our own way of enjoying it. We complain about the potholes that are created each monsoon (while the ones created previously are still ever-present), complain about the rains messing up our schedule (though we love to use it as our ‘patent excuse’ for getting late.
As if we are known for our promptness, ‘Indian Standard Time’, anyone?) and curse the rain itself (yet, pray each year for it to arrive early). We Punekars are a confused bunch of people, especially when it comes to rains. We hate it when it rains just when we are about to step out of the house (especially when we forget our raincoats or umbrellas), but we love the smell of the wet soil (maati cha sugandha, ahhaaaaa!!), the small drizzle, the water running down the sides of roads (and we still make those paper boats or as we call it, hodya) and THE RAINS itself. So here are a few things Punekars definitely do when it rains.
The world might be addicted to alcohol, soft drinks and other beverages (we love them too), but a Punekar is addicted to chai. The elaichi, adrak, perfectly blended with water and milk to get a khaki-like colour, sometimes also with gavati chaha (grass like leaves of tea) and what you get is a drink that is irresistible. The rains are just another reason for us to take a sip of our favourite drink, and most will claim, the tea smells and tastes, a lot better in the monsoons than in any other season. Whether this claim is true or not, you decide. I just get lost when I drink tea, so I’ll be unavailable for taking a stand on this.
Eat Kanda Bhaji
The minute a raindrop hits the ground and makes that lovely sound, housewives in Pune get up on their feet and voluntarily leave the seat in front of the TV sets. What makes this miracle happen? The urge to have bhajis (do not mix it up with bhaaji, the Marathi word for subzi or vegetable) makes a Punekar leave everything at hand and take a bite of the tasty snack. Kanda bhaji does go down amazingly with chai, or as I like to call it, ‘cha-ha!’ Mix that with the monsoon weather, and a Punekar might just feel this is truly, ‘Heaven on earth’. If you’re unaware of the recipe for making this snack, try finding a local tea stall that can get you the perfect taste (avoid any CCD-like places for this one, you might not even get it there). Otherwise, follow the smell and locate the house and just barge in. Otherwise, just bang on the door of your neighbouring aunty or ajji. Ask them about the recipe, and they’ll not only happily share it with you, but will also send you a plate each time they make it (Yes, we Marathi are that friendly, if you take the initial step. If you don’t, we leave you all by yourself, for we never intrude other people’s privacy).
Enjoy the view
It is not just retired elderly that you’ll find sitting in the balconies observing the world around, in monsoons, everyone joins in. From girls in hot shorts, men in lungis or in baniyans and shorts (the sight of which will give you nightmares) to office people dressed in formal, you’ll find just about anyone standing below a shade observing the journey of a raindrop from the clouds to the ground. They’ll mostly be found with above items at hand, and this only makes you want to run home ASAP and do the same thing yourself.
We might complain how we got stuck in the rains and got all drenched (bhijlo describes the experience perfectly. English just cannot compete with such words), but fact is we love it. Be it forgetting the umbrella or raincoat on purpose, Punekars are also known to park their cars (very carefully within the yellow line) and get out to welcome the rains. Pausat bhijna is quite an experience. We are never too old to enjoy it and never too careful to think about catching a cold or getting sick due to it. If we do get sick, it only gives us a chance to call in sick (this time telling the real reason) and stay back home to enjoy bhajis & pakodas made at home and enjoy the leisurely activity of enjoying the rains.
Punekars and the monsoon shares quite a complex relation. Both are quite unpredictable, having the power to raise a storm and get all mellow within minutes. To sum it up, even the rain clouds coming from the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean, become quite a Punekar when they enter the city of “12cha public”.
The rains to are ‘barache‘ in Pune.