Rains are common sight in Bangalore. Ever since the day I started travelling by myself, I distinctly remember being stuck in the rain. I was stuck yesterday for more than an hour and it got me thinking. Rains are a great leveler.
I am sure many relate to the image above. It usually starts with the realization that its going to pour. The feeling of cold dampness in the air, hitting you whilst you try and race to your destination. This is usually accompanied by strong winds raising dust and debris from the road. Winds so strong that you see people meandering around the straight road in order to hold the wobbling two wheeler steady.
And it pours. Slowly at first, giving you a hope that you might actually make it to your destination with just a couple of wet spots on your shirt. Unfortunately nature doesn’t comply and lets it rip. This is followed by a frantic search of the surroundings in hopes of finding a shelter. The problem here is that, more you hope of beating the rain with your superior driving, lesser is your chances of finding a good spot under a shelter. Most good spots are usually taken by people who seem to have been perenially standing there. Then there are extremely good spots, places where you can bite into a morsel or two whilst you wait for the rain to stop. In Bangalore, these are usually road side bonda or chaat shops and some times small hotels, that are more than ready to receive and service the stranded incidental customer.
Then there is the company. A varied mix of people that will be a part of your life for a short time and will be forgotten within the hour. This is where you relate to your position in society. The place where boundaries of caste, education, race and gender are diminished. For example, yesterday, I had the pleasure of sharing a small awning on the street with a mechanic, a young mother and her new born baby, a worried father who couldn’t believe that nature and fate had together let him down, a budding guitarist from eastern part of India, a woman who was dressed as a nurse and couple of people I couldn’t recognize because they felt it was too embarassing to remove their helmets while they waited under an awning for over an hour. No, there was no food, nor was there any reprise from the winds that would blow a good helping of rain onto our unprotected selves. But there was goodwill. People who tried their best to help protect the young baby, giving the mother tips. People who gave a restless individual a polyethene cover, who decided that, it would be better to brave the rain than stand helplessly . People who would enviously look at passing cars, often letting out a soft sigh as if indicating a sense of displeasure about their current state (envy is probably the most prevelant of the emotions amidst the Indian middle class, blog post on this soon). People who were more than ready to have a political debate about the recent elections often claiming superioirty of infrastructure in Bangalore, forgetting that they were stranded under an awning. There were no politicians or engineers or doctors. There were just people. Stuck in the rain.