Monday, February 25, 2008

Rain, Rooftops and Memories .............

I don't know the day, the time when I first realized this - but I think I have a certain affinity and closeness to the rain. It must have been a day when I was down , early somewhere in my childhood days , and I had looked out the window - and the landscape was blinded with rain . And since then , everytime something is heavily weighing down on my mind and I see the skies open up - I feel my assumptions have been proved correct .

Well. January in the Bay area has been raining without end . Day after day , the rain came down at all hours - and I began to wonder when it is going to stop ! So much rain , that my apartment got flooded and I had to move temporarily for a couple of months until it can be fixed ! Still, all this rain evokes a lot of memories - my images of Dhaka , a city I loved which used to look so crisp and beautiful after a rain ! There , rains would sometimes come in between and during sunshine ! And , one of my favorite things to do when I would hear the rain coming down in torrents - was to sprint to the roof ! Every house , building in Dhaka has a roof ! And these roofs are not only places to hang clothes to dry on the clothesline ( no dryers ) or to fly kites , but these roofs are de facto "flirt joints" and the place for "escapades". When it started to rain , I would sprint up on the roof , and within minutes - know the "prospects" in the neighborhood ! And all the single uncommitted girls would come out like butterflies in the advent of Spring and literally spread their wings ! The rain somehow used to take away the inhibitions of a very conservative society and the girls , and guys , used to take the full oppurtunity of it . Personally , I would like to think that I just loved drenching in the rain ( which is true ) , but I cannot escape the very distinct possibility that seeing the girls and somehow connecting with them in between glances was also a reason for my affinity ! Roofs in Dhaka act as a social gathering place for teenagers and friends , and specially during the scorching heat of summer - a place to cool down in the evening and sip tea ! It is from one of these roofs my cousin looked at his future wife quite a few years ago , and found out that the temporary maid that comes to clean my Aunt's house also goes to clean her house , and the rest was history ! As urban traditions of dhaka love stories go - the maid became the courier , then came secret courtship , and finally marriage ! I remember a lot of things that happened on the roof - the first time smoking cigarettes with my friends , the extensive lessons I received from Lipi ( she was seven years older than I was ) and she took it on herself to teach me in the art of kissing ( I was , regardless to say , an ardent student ! ) and unknowing to her I applied my new found knowledge on her younger sister Shabana who I really liked on the same roof in the fading light of the evenings !! Both are happily married , and hopefully our mutual practice made each of us a better lover !

(The view of the rain soaked street from the window of my present apartment)

The evening I remember most is the day I had to say goodbye to my childhood sweetheart on the roof of an old building in a dusty northern town in Bangladesh called Rangpur ( someday I will write in details about this story ) - and in midst of this traumatic hour , the rain came down -slowly at first , then furiously , and we were still looking at each other , and did not move . She was trying to tell me that I should give up our fight , and how she was worried about my safety - and how I would get back to Dhaka with all her uncle's hired hands looking for me ! The rain has stayed with me ever since , I believe . I have to borrow the lines of one of my favorite Bengali poets Nirmolendu Goon here : " You are leaving , And there are tears - In the eyes of the Rain !"

Rain , is not that much fun in the Bay area - with work and driving , there is no romanticism in the rain here - and of cousre , there are no roofs ! But still , the rain leaves me in a different mood , or maybe because I am missing someone that my previous beliefs of rain-theory is stirring back in me . I want a warm rain , coming down not like a drizzle but a cascade - and a roof that I can sprint up to and roam around - and maybe I will find my adventurous years that I left back home come back to me !

Well, the guys doing the marketing for Kerala Tourism undaunted by the fact that the incessant monsoon is a deterrent for tourism , tried a great spin to their ad campaign : " Sometimes it takes water to kindle a Fire !" I cannot agree more Kerala !

And lastly , here is the picture from the movie "Notebook" - and this scene has been become a signature of the kiss in the rain ( I was going to put a Indian movie song in the rain , but this scene is much more pure ......) - this was not supposed to be a "sappy" post , but .......

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