It’s raining, it’s pouring…..

The monsoon season is finally here! In India, the monsoons are a distinct season called as varsha, the Sanskrit term for rain. Varsha is also a common female name in India.

The monsoon is a welcome change from the humidity and harshness of the Mumbai summers. I used to experience the monsoons in San Francisco which would start in late November and go on till April. Every season, I would think to myself, “gosh, wait till you move to Mumbai, you will know what real monsoons are.” Forward to 2012, here I am in Mumbai, getting my first taste of the monsoons after a long, long, time. It is certainly a refreshing change, but can also be a painful experience where Mumbai’s infrastructure is concerned.

If you recall my horror in the first few months of moving to Mumbai where I described gaping manholes that (felt as if they) were strategically positioned all over so that you could fall straight into one and die… imagine my horror when I see the very same manholes, but this time they are filled with rain water, some of them brimming at the top. Now, add to that the fact that the roads are slippery and when you are running for shelter from the torrents, chances of slipping into a manhole are high. When it rains in Mumbai, it pours! It pours like it is nobody’s business, flooding streets and bringing trains and buses to a halt. I am sure I will have more to report on as the rains get heavier in July.

Rain, rain, go away; come again another day!

Rain, rain, go away; come again another day!

The monsoons are not taken lightly in India, especially not by the farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs. Their lives, literally, depend on it. In the course of many years, where the monsoons have been delayed or been weak, hundreds of farmers in India have committed suicide because they cannot afford to pay back the huge loans they took against their crops (that were to come). It is a pretty sad situation to see and hear of the anxiety and stress these farmers go through in anticipation of the rain. In fact, there are many parts in India where people will undertake sacrifices (yagnas) and rituals to invoke the Hindu rain god, Indra, the god of rain and thunder. Just recently I read an article where people in a village in the state of Lucknow undertook a 6 hour yagna, hosted by a Hindu priest, seeking divine intervention for the appearance of Lord Indra. Chanting of mantras, singing sacred songs, and making offerings to the divine, are some of the ways in which the rains are called on.

It has not been raining heavily in Mumbai at all….in fact, we have received very sparse rains in the month of June. However, something tells me that this will change and there will be drama in the skies in the weeks to come. So while I am complaining about the sordid heat that has out stayed its visit, I know soon I will be grumbling about the skies that won’t stop pouring. I shall wait and see.

Heavens of Mumbai storming

Heavens of Mumbai storming



Mangoes! Mangoes! Mangoes!

Yup! It’s mango season and almost every street corner showcases a cart on which heaps of mangoes are displayed and sold. We are officially in the mango season, which means that in Mumbai, one can expect to find several different varieties of mangoes. And I am not talking about the piddly, tasteless mangoes I used to have in the USA, that were imported from either Mexico or South America. Oh no! I am talking about real mangoes – juicy, sweet, fleshy jewels that melt like butter every time you take a bite.

Every region in India boasts its own type of mango, considering that all over India, there are hundred different types of mangoes. Some mangoes are sold at very steep prices (approximately INR 500 per dozen – which is pricey), while other types are sold at very cheap rates. Some of the commercially sold mangoes in Mumbai are Alphonso, Ratnagiri, Kesar, Totapuri, Batlu, Langdo and Payri. Alphonso is the king of mangoes, and when it first came into the market in May, it was going for as high as INR 900 per dozen!

Here are some images of the mangoes that are on display all over the city:

Boxes and boxes of Alphonso mangoes for sale. One bite into this delicious fruit and anyone can see why it is the King!

I try to not indulge in too many mangoes, because they are high in calories and also generate a lot of heat in the body. This is dangerous, especially if you already tend to feel hot. However, I have been buying one dozen of every kind of mango available every time I make my weekly trip to the bazaar. Just the smell, as you pass the stall, emanates a sweetness, as if it were divine nectar, an offering from the gods above. There is a certain fragrance about mangoes that I have seldom experienced with any other fruit.

I am off to dig into an Alphonso. If you do not live in India, I hope you get the pleasure of experiencing the mango season in Mumbai some day, because it is certainly one of a kind!

Harrowing Mumbai!

I know I haven’t blogged in over a month and I have come to realize that blogging is like a drug for me….the more I blog, the less irritated I am about life in Mumbai. I haven’t been blogging for several reasons: my private practice has been really going strong, the house renovations are still going on, I continue to be physically drained from the heat of Mumbai, I was away in China for about 2 weeks, and I am still trying to figure out life on Mumbai’s terms! It’s tough.

I was on the plane from Shanghai to Mumbai, and I noticed the deep sadness that sat pretty around me, as if I were enveloped in it. I felt a lot of resistance getting on that Cathay Pacific airplane from Shanghai, feeling the heaviness and disappointment of returning to Mumbai. Strangely enough, I felt no hesitancy or anxiety about getting on the plane for Shanghai (I was presenting at a conference and teaching in China on the topic of Humanistic-Existential Psychology). But as I look back, I can understand why. In Shanghai, I reconnected with some of my very dear Humanistic Psychology colleagues from the USA, colleagues that I had a deep bond with for many years. When I landed in Shanghai and saw those beautiful faces, I realized how much I missed those connections and friendships. I felt like I was at home, instantly getting comfortable with my American counterparts, basking in their love and affection for me. Not once did I think of Mumbai nor did I find myself counting the days for my return. I found myself just taking one day at a time, soaking in the familiarity, trust, and friendship that I continued to receive from my colleagues. It was magic!

And right enough, I landed in Mumbai and stepped out of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai) and found myself in 30 degrees Celsius weather, with 55% humidity, and tons of people swarming around me. I knew I was back in Mumbai, for sure! It took me about 3 days to re-settle into life in Mumbai after being away for only 10 days. For anyone who has not been to China, it is a clean, organized, and beautiful country! I traveled in China and also spent time in Shanghai and was terribly impressed by the cultural richness and diversity that this city boasted. It definitely surpasses Mumbai in its pollution levels though, but other than that, it was like I was in Asia’s very own Manhattan! Of course, I have to give it to the Mumbaikers that their English-speaking skills are way much better. In fact, English barely exists in China, even in Shanghai! It was really hard communicating with a lot of the inhabitants of Shanghai, especially at local shops and restaurants.

After my trip to China, I went for a weekend stint to Della Adventures in Lonavala. This is a fantastic adventure park/ resort and I highly recommend it. I noticed that as I was driving back to Mumbai, I was feeling down in the dumps again. I find that every time I return to Mumbai, it is a difficult experience. It’s happened every single time: my return from Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, China, and now Lonavala (barely a 2 hour ride from Mumbai). I notice a change in my mind and body, where my physical energy drops and I feel psychically drained, as if I walked one hundred miles in the grueling heat and dirt of a mighty desert.

There is a certain numbness and restlessness that I feel – it’s a strange combination, because on some days, I am plain irritated, and on other days I am indifferent and callous in my attitude towards people and things. There is an edginess I seem to experience in my daily affairs, as I navigate through and negotiate life in Mumbai. I am hoping that the edginess will gradually wear off and be replaced with more gentleness and kindness; gentleness and kindness toward my self and my new surroundings.