Why, oh why, Is is not Raining in Mumbai?

I cannot begin to describe the despair and frustration I feel, daily, because it is so god damn hot in Mumbai, still! Yes, it’s been progressively hot since March, and there seems to be no hope in sight. The Indian Meteorological Department had predicted heavy rains, with its descent around mid-June. They were right about the date, but had no idea that the rains were going to be so scant in its arrival.

It has rained for a few days, in mid-June, and the heavenly skies have left us high and dry since the last two weeks. Mumbaikers look forward to June, when they pray and hope for relief from the scorching Indian summer, waiting for the rains to cool them down. We also depend on the rains as a major source of water, without which, the city can expect a 20% water cut on a daily basis. That’s really going to force me to re-think having my 4 showers in a day. But what can I do? It is sticky, humid, sweaty, and just plain yuck! And for how many hours in a day can you have the air conditioning on? It’s unnatural and can end up being very expensive.

For the first time in my life in Mumbai, I feel for this city. If we do not get any rains this year, it is going to create havoc. People are already edgy and irritated, having to deal with the temperatures that only keep rising. With the rains not in sight, crops and produce have gotten a lot more expensive. Staples, such as sugar and rice, are also predicted to increase in price, drastically. There is an edginess amongst the people of the city; a lot more snappiness and a little less kindness, is what I am observing, when I am out and about.

I am really scared that we may be faced with a drought situation, and so is the government, who is seriously considering cloud seeding, a very clever way of manipulating the rain. It has been done a few many times in the past, and has worked. For those who are not aware, cloud seeding is a process of artificially inseminating the clouds with a chemical that produces a kind of precipitation (either snow or rain). This might be our only resort.

Of course, when I discuss the rain situation (or lack of it, may I say), with my grandmother and elders of the family, it somehow ends up in a Biblical discussion; a lamentation of how evil and corrupt this city is turning out to be, how upset God is with us, and how this is his way of “punishing us” for our sins.

Whatever the cause, natural or supernatural, the skies need to show some benevolence on Mumbai and her people, and give us the lashing, menacing, rains that Mumbai is infamous for…..without our rains, I know that the next few months will only burn me alive.


Can I get a Package?

The Indian psyche never ceases to amaze me. And I am literally talking about the “psyche”, as my recent experiences are very relevant to my work and private practice. As with any regular sessions and appointments that a professional conducts in his/her practice, he or she usually bills the client on an hourly basis. And so it is with me. I like to keep things, especially when related to money, simple, clean, and transparent. And so I like to charge, by the hour, and I am always upfront about my hourly fees.

In the last few years of private practice in Mumbai, I have come across a variety of people, as you can imagine. Most of my clients are decent people, who pay in a timely manner, who are punctual and conscientious about time, and who are respectful of the administrative aspects of the therapeutic process. But once in a while, you get the odd one, here and there, who tend to make peculiar demands on how I should charge them.

I have had a few instances where a client has asked me for a “package price” for our hourly sessions. I don’t know about others, but I have never experienced this kind of question in any other part of the world I have lived. Yes, I am aware of the “sliding scale” concept and happily apply it to some of my clients who cannot afford therapy. But never have I come across a client who has asked for a package deal. Is it just me or the Indian mentality?

Clients who ask for “packages” want to have a number of particular sessions, at a particular price, so that they can lock in their therapy sessions at a particular rate. I think it’s rather bizarre and a little uncivilized. What shocks me the most, is that these demands are being made by well-to-do clients, who do have the money and luxury to pay for therapy. Perhaps, it is the Indian mentality that is always seeking more for less, and I have seen this attitude across all spheres of life in India and with most Indians.

Initially, I used to completely refrain from yielding to this “package deal” policy. But it is becoming more apparent to me that it is the done thing in Mumbai. I am slowly beginning to come around and make some adjustments in my desire and abilities to negotiate these packages. I guess, when in Rome, do as the Romans do?

But the most bizarre client experience was today. I had a couple come in for therapy, hailing from the upper crust of society. Our sessions are usually an hour long, but today it went over 30 minutes. When I told them the final amount, the wife insisted on not paying for the extra 30 minutes, claiming that they come often to me and I can ignore the extra amount. I was stunned, but played cool, and decided to let it slip, this time. In all fairness, in this week alone, I saw the husband twice and the wife once, and the both as a couple. So they did shell out a lot of dough, in this week alone. But still! The gall of just demanding and blatantly expecting that I should ignore the last 30 minutes of my hard work, really took me by surprise!

I realize that I will see a lot more of such clients in my practice, and can chose to get upset and frustrated by them. But instead, I am grateful that I only have a few of such clients, and that the rest of my clients are mindful of my work, my dedication to them, and it is because of them that I especially love what I do.



Pitter Patter, Pitter Patter

This morning saw the arrival of the first showers, the onset of the monsoon season which brings with it a riot of colors, sounds, and smells. It is also a time when schools re-open; and while it’s a warm feeling knowing that there will be children out and about, scuttling to school and back, to after school activities, to the play ground, and the like, it is also an irritating feeling knowing that there will be more commotion on the roads and more noise pollution, in the early hours of the morning.

May is a conflicting month for me, and has been for the last 2 years. While the temperatures are at their peak, the humidity leaving you drenched and drained by the end of the day, the quietude that I experience in my neighborhood, is a much needed break to the senses. In the mornings, it is deafeningly quiet till about 8 am, and I enjoy the morning chattering of the birds, as I wake up to a new morn. I know all of this is going to come to an end, come mid-June, and I will have to mentally and physically prepare myself for the inevitable.

I guess the only panacea for the onslaught of auditory pollution is to pray that the rain gods make their visit every early morning, so that I wake up not to the hustle and bustle of children going to school, but to the pitter patter of the Mumbai rains. Mumbai is notorious for its rains, and the thought of waking up to the splatter of rain, beating down on this maddening city, as I welcome the new day, leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.