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   The rains, I have always felt, are the rich man's weather... (June 13, 1986)

The rains, I have always felt, are the rich man's weather. Especially on working days.

He lives in a house where the water does not drip in. His garden flourishes in the rains, though, even when it is not raining, he has enough gardeners to provide it with water and tend it. His chauffeur brings the car right into the portico of the mansion. He steps into it and is driven to office (sorry, boardroom).

His car (cars) is a foreign car, large and high and purring, and there is no risk of its getting stuck in flooded streets like the poor India-made foreign cars. He is driven straight into the underground parking underneath his office building. Then he gets into a high-speed elevator and goes up stepping into his boardroom without a drop of water having splashed on his safari suit or the soles of his leather shoes damp.

At lunchtime, he goes down to the underground park, gets into the same car and is driven into the portico of the Oberoi. If he goes to the Ambassador, which has better food (though few executives can distinguish between good food and not-so-good-food), he may not have a portico to step into, but an impressive doorman, looking like the President's bodyguard, holds a multi-coloured umbrella over his head and sees that his Brylcreemed head does not get wet.

In the evening, he sits in his club, with his chhota peg, watching the grass grow and contemplating how many lakhs his company has made during the day. Only, occasionally, slow services as the waiters and cooks are protesting for more money.

He returns home, discards his safari suit for the laundry, though it has neither been soiled nor wet, has his dinner and goes to bed. Outside it is raining, but he is no aware of that. Probably he is not even aware that the monsoon has arrived.

Now consider the season for the ordinary man. He gets up to a leaking house, though there is still no water in his tap, and the thought of how to go to work through the rains. He wears plastic shoes, puts cycle-clips on his trousers, an old drip-dry bush-shirt, gets his old and ineffectual umbrella.

He travels by wet trains and buses, delayed because of the rains and consequent floods, though he it aware that the executive in his office would not understand why he should be late. He spends his working day in dampness, though grateful that his office is mean enough not to have installed an air-conditioner and therefore there are less chances of his catching a cold.

In the evening, he returns home in the same manner, several hours late, hangs his clothes on a line to dry, so that he can wear them again the next morning, gives his shoes to his wife to put by the fire to remove the wetness from them. And he half-sleeps through the night, worried if this is finally going to be the monsoon season that his house will collapse.

The only saving grace, and there always is a saving grace, is the still poorer people in the villages to whom the rains are a blessing. It will bring water to their parched fields, fill their wells, grow fodder for their cattle. For them the drought will be over.

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