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