Monsoon in the City
Hameem M Toaha
The monsoon season in Bangladesh is a unique phenomenon. With the first monsoon shower, nature seems to liven up and give herself a pristine look. Just take the glistening foliage of trees once covered with grime from a dry summer spell after a shower, or the rivers suddenly full of life, and swelled up by the downhill rush of rainwater. Even the joyous croaks of frogs and shoals of fish whose ecstatic swim against the current reaches a feverish pitch during a heavy downpour.
Typical monsoon drizzles bring on a melancholic mood, and moments that evoke mixed emotions. The murky and cool weather, the monotonous symphony of incessant rainfall together often provoke nostalgia. Sometimes you'll find solitude is something to be savoured and takes you down memory lane. Tagore's songs are often frowned upon for their somewhat stereotyped tone, but I personally feel that Tagore's genre catches up with the overall mood of a typical drizzling monsoon day better than any other genre for its distinct and somewhat poignant style of rendition. Many find the prattle of raindrops slumber-inducing, the lazy bones would make the most out of the rain to bunk school or office and swaddle up in bed for a serene snooze. The overcast sky and the sound of drizzle always go on to evoke mixed emotions in me. If I've got some task in hand, I can revel at the pleasant ambience as I get engrossed... Sometimes when I'm there all alone, the weeping sky makes me feel all so lonely and depressed... That is when a pervasive sense of melancholy starts to set in. Other times a monsoon shower can act as a catharsis, washing away all agony mounted by stifling heat and rigorous schedule.
Bangalis always take an enthusiastic interest in celebrating monsoon, a season which boasts a great deal of influence on their culture. They welcome monsoon in their very own traditional ways by observing colourful festivals like Borsha Boron etc. On a typical monsoon day, it's sort of a ritual to take khichury with either beef with chilli or fried hilsha with slices of fried onions. Prepared from a dextrous mixture of rice and pulse and a blend of various spices, khichury is one of the exotic Bangali dishes that never fails to win the heart of gourmands around the world.
The setting of the scorching summer heat, tumid rivers, all soaked up surroundings, waterlogged roads bring contrasting effects on life in general. The flurry of daily activities comes to a standstill as life takes a back seat and monsoon goes on a roll. As the heavens prepares to open the gates, nature with all its living and non-living objects seems to wait in a lull to be doused in the shower.
Though nature gets a chance to wash her appearance, the commuters' plight heightens during monsoon. More often than not, downpours plays havoc with traffic movement, as stagnant water causes waterlogging and all of a sudden commuting becomes a very taxing proposition… To compound the woes of commuters, all those shovel-happy authorities seem to save this season in particular for their yearly road digging binge. The snapshots of passers-by wading through inundated roads and stumbling into poodles and vehicles (one Daily Star photo showed a double-decker precariously stuck in a dugout trench, and an erected bamboo pole preventing the vehicle from falling on its side!) getting stuck in crevices made by indiscriminate digging in the middle of thoroughfares clearly show the sheer lack of common sense on the part of the concerned bodies. There is an entire dry season repair work, then what's the raison d'être for digging up every single road bang in the middle of the rainy season? Is it because rain is supposed to loosen the soil and hence make the digging process easier? That'd be the most ludicrous excuse ever! Moreover, things get messy beyond imagintion when rainwater washes away dug up piles of soil on the sides and smears the roads.
As for the scope of a day out or outdoor recreation during this rainy season, the Botanical Garden at Mirpur and Baldah Garden in the Old Dhaka are the places to go for Dhakaites for a serene timeout. These two places flaunt a wide range of flora, especially the ones that characterise the tropical climate of Bangladesh. There's one Kodom tree, which sprouts flowers only when monsoon is in full swing. Demand for river cruises is usually high around this part of the year as the onrush of southbound stream fills up all the water bodies and lowlands. The seasonal river resort at Ashuliya is a huge hit with people raring to break free from the concrete jungle and take in the scenic beauty of Mother Nature once in a while. The vast and panoramic riverscape at Ashuliya carries immense potential for tourism. But quite unfortunately Ashuliya hasn't been able to make it to the hot list of tourist attractions in the city yet due to lack of initiatives on the part of the concerned authorities. But recent deployment of patrol around the area has helped to curb the activities of drug peddlers considerably. Further pragmatic steps will surely widen the choice of recreation for Dhakaites during the monsoon season.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005