Cutting Chai: Taste the rain!

Taste the rain!

The annual monsoon season breathes new life into the Indian subcontinent. It breaks the spell of the summer sun. Seasonal winds, heavy with moisture, collide against mountain ranges to quench the parched earth, sweeping across the country from the south-west to the north-east. This is a time for joyous celebration. India has been blessed with six* (not four) seasons, and monsoon-time is special. From food festivals to classical music compositions invoking the overcast sky to the rising fragrance of the first wetness that are bottled in the oil-based Itr, there are numerous expressions for our love for the rain. Far from being associated with gloom, overcast skies signal romance, joy and indulgence, connections that are copiously used in artistic expression. For a people dependent largely on agriculture, an abundant rainfall also heralds prosperity.

Bottled anticipation! 
When the air is infused with moisture and slick, clammy sweat becomes your second skin. When the clouds are ready to burst, but there is no rain, rub a bit of Gil on your wrists and neck and you become enveloped with the fragrance of the first 💦 on parched earth. Itr is at its best performance in this season; Petrichor in a bottle.

The season offers a great opportunity to collect images. And combined with the generosity of the people, numerous opportunities are available to capture the rain. As the renowned journalist Steve McCurry* wrote about India, “If you wait, people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up to be seen.” Moisture in air aids that drift.

Recently, a lot of work has happened regarding decoding the Petrichor scent. Apparently, scientists have deduced that the clean, moist and earthy smell contains three distinct elements: One emerging from a bacteria (Streptomyces) as it perishes the fragrance ‘geosmin’, another from the formation of ozone as a result of lightening, and yet another that is similar to the smell of plants, released from dried leaves: turpenes. Here’s more from the podcast where I came across these details: “Short Stuff: Petrichor” 14 August 2019.
Stuff Media LLC. <https://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/short-stuff-petrichor.htm&gt; 20 August 2019

Another interesting article from BBC also provides the latest evidence: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44904298 An interesting detail is that beetroots TASTE of Petrichor, some people like them and some don’t!

The way in which children receive the rain is special. The unrestrained joy with which they can taste the rain is special. Little puddles become lakes and droplets become alternate worlds. Children have the capacity to fully appreciate rainfall……..let’s keep the child in us alive and step out into the next rainfall with open arms!

Alternate worlds!

*Link to Steve McCurry’s recent work: https://www.iflymagazine.com/en/magazines/india/editorspick-india-stevemccurry?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc

The *six seasons:

  • Vasant Ritu: Spring
  • Grishma Ritu: Summer
  • Varsha Ritu: Monsoon
  • Sharad Ritu: Autumn
  • Hemant Ritu: Pre-winter
  • Shishir or Shita Ritu: Winter

Picture credits: Reshu and Nandita. Also, many thanks to our young family member for providing the inspiration for this post!

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