For a while, it looked like we had a scorching summer on our hands. In the famously temperate Bangalore, daytime temperature was hovering around 30°, with peaks hitting five degrees higher. I could barely stand to walk for 10 minutes in the midday sun without having to duck into an air conditioned shop for a breather, or, at times when I had to brave the scorching rays for longer, would end up spending the afternoon dozing under a mosquito net, totally drained.
For most of last week though, it rained. The skies, bright and clear throughout the day, would fill with rolling clouds just before dusk. As night fell, so did the rain: heavy pregnant drops pounding down, turning dusty streets into mud baths and tin roofs into drum kits.
When you work in a building without walls, rain is something of an issue, especially when your building is a techno-hub strung with a spider’s web of lighting wires, power sockets, Ethernet cables. Fuses blew. Switches sparked. Drips from the ceiling boards percolated down through the structure with little respect for anything foolish enough to get in the way. Many a Jaaganaut, inattentive for a brief moment, had to swoop down onto a workstation where a new leak had sprung, frantically rescuing laptops and notepaper from a watery grave. Some evenings, afternoon visitors would be stranded for hours, waiting out the deluge with games of cards and Indian rum.
This is not the monsoon though, my friends tell me, but only ‘mango showers’, a first burst of rain that sweeps in in mid-summer, bringing temperatures down before the start of mango season. Sure enough the past few days have been cool and fresh, the air particularly clean and breathable since the water has knocked out the dust and pollution. For the moment then, and maybe for the first time, I’m looking forward to the next time it rains.
Speaking of which, with my current project finishing in June sometime it looks like I’ll be travelling in the monsoon season again. My feet are getting itchy (metaphorically, though as I write that I can’t help looking at the mosquito bites that cover them), and I can feel the first tingle of adventure in my stomach. The plan, as of the moment, is Thailand, Burma and the north-eastern provinces of India; my dream would be to fly into Bangkok and work my way north, making my way back overland via bus, train, boat or anything else I can get my hands on. Surprisingly, the major obstacle on this route would be crossing the border back into India from Burma, because the Indian states in that region – Manipur, Assam, Nagaland – are designated restricted areas for which a permit is needed, and apparently difficult for foreigners to obtain. This is a good thing, of course, as these areas have large traditional tribal zones and high biodiversity, but it would be a shame to have to break up the journey and fly back instead.
My best hope at the moment is a friend who knows someone working for the government who might be able to swing permits for us – typical India. There’s been no development on that front as of yet, so for now I’ll keep my fingers crossed….More on all that coming soon.