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   I think it was in his book on Bombay... (July 30, 1991)

I think it was in his book on Bombay, commissioned by Time-Life, that Dom Moraes wrote: "The monsoon on silent feet, like English butlers and Russian diplomats, walked into Bombay," Or words to that effect. My friend, and his, Srinivas Laxman, would be able to provide the exact quote.

Mr. Moraes is among the few practitioners of the English language who has a way with words, and certainly the only writer in India to have it. It is a gift of the gods. And the monsoon, in India at least, is the season for poets to sing about.

There is no other season in this country that lends itself to food writing. In Europe they can write about the first blush of spring, the thaw in the cold white earth, the glimmer of a sun, a slight green fuzz in the trees. On the west coast of America, there is the fall season, and in Japan the cherry blossom time.

I have written about this before, I am sure, more than once, but I shall repeat, such has been the impression the event has made on me. I was in Turkey, half way up in the winter fastness of the Taurus ranges. And, one morning, dramatically, winter was replaced by spring.

You could feel it in a dozen different ways. After months, the sun was out, warm and comfortable. The little village shops of tailors and barbers and moved out into the street, with their tables and chairs and sewing-machines, and were doing their business there. And in ther chimney pots, storks had flown in from the African continent and were building their nests there.

The first rains up Bombay, and along the coastline from Rajdeep Sardesai's Sindhudurg to Menon's Kerala (any Menon's) have a similar effect. The scent of the parched earth gratefully absorbing the water, the grey frowing clouds banking the sky, the sea tossing its mane, the wind bending the palm trees, the rattle of rain on the roofs.

I had once visited Manohar Malgokar at his isolated villa near Jugalpeth, driving from Goa through a rain forest and an electric storm, I though it was in ideal house to observe and write about the monsoon and it stenant would be the right perosn to do so. Unfortunately, Mr. Malgonkar concentrates on histories and biographies and adventure novels, though I must admit he does them all very competently and he is admirably readable.

The only other writer I can think of who has written effectively about the rains is Somerest Maugham. But he has written about rains in the Malaya forests, where the monsoon used to turn the English and Dutch planters mad and murderous. Fortunately, in Bombay, the rains do not have this influence. They only make commuters stay at home and take a holiday.

 
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