Monsoon

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. – W. H. Auden

India is a vast country, covering some 1.3 million miles square and a variety of terrains.  Despite its immense size, a great proportion of the country is characterized by a tropical monsoon climate.  This means that the amount of rainfall annually is comparable to that of a tropical rainforest, but the timeframe of rainfall is compressed into specific times of the year. So a lot of rain falls in a short period of time.  As I discovered, this can cause some pretty incredible conditions on the ground.

Early in our trip, our transportation vehicle – a big ol’ bus – ran afoul of the monsoon and got itself stuck in the mud. Parked under a tree, no less, which meant it wasn’t so easy to maneuver its way out of the mire.  Later, while driving through mountain passes in the Western Ghats in a driving rain, our bus slowly rolled around a curve to discover that a few vehicles before us had not successfully managed that wet spot on the road – and had thus pushed through the guard rail, careening down the mountainside. Yikes!  Near the end of our trip, we were rerouted a few times by washed out roads and bridges, thanks to fast-moving flood waters.

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Road closure! Its wet out there…

Aside from the perils of transportation, the monsoon had other impacts on this road-weary traveler. I was reminded of the dubious pleasure of hand-washing clothes only to hand them to drip. Not drip-dry, mind you. Just drip.  They never dried.  Smelling faintly of mold became the norm.

We were washed out of a temple experience by rising floodwaters, too.  Its customary to leave your shoes just outside a temple entrance, and after 15 minutes inside our shoes took to floating off.  The water was threatening to flood the temple floor.  Thats when we took our cue to leave.

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Leave your shoes at the temple door

Rain is special treat to one who endures the many-year drought felt back home in San Diego, but monsoon rain is something else!

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