Bang in the midst of the monsoon starts a fairytale-like bonding of nature, city, countryside and wilderness. Sunjoy Monga brings you some enchanting stories
Suddenly, it is as if all of nature has had a refreshing bath. What appeared lifeless until just a couple of weeks ago is now bursting with activity as countless herbs and shrubs erupt into view. The Earth drips with dampness as the first of the monsoon flowers, including the glorious Crinum lily, bloom and vanish even before most of us have woken up to the monsoon drama.
The monsoon rains inspire everything, from poets and writers to various creatures in nature. The green foliage is ours to feast on as insects and animals start another cycle of life. While bugs and other creepy-crawlies appear to be most abundant, it is the many birds that discover their hidden voice during the monsoon that attract the most attention.
Most vocal are the cuckoos, including the famed papeeha with its screeching soft screams. One of the monsoon visitors, the Pied Cuckoo–a splendid black and white bird–mysteriously appears a week or two before the actual onset of the monsoon and is known to arrive on monsoon winds across the Arabian Sea, all the way from Africa.
The Indian Peafowl, the most majestic of our birds, is in full glory too while many other birds move locally, suddenly arriving in different regions of the country with the first signs of the monsoon winds. Amongst the most famous of India's birds is the Baya Weaver. The males have already put on their handsome reeding dress and appear like warriors out to battle it out for a slice of our cities' vanishing open lands.
The word 'monsoon' is said to come from the Arabic 'mausim' or 'season'. It is a huge sea-breeze that begins building up late in the Indian summer and sweeps inland, resulting in often torrential rain. These winds blew the fragile sailboats of adventurous traders from the east coast of Africa across the ocean to India's bountiful Malabar Coast. In the 1st Century, Arabian seamen adjusted their sails to the monsoon and safely rode to the mouth of the River Indus. Later, they rode on the winds to China. The Indian economy depends upon this enormous breeze!
Until not long ago, one of the finest images of the monsoon's first quarter was that of the great numbers of frogs and toads croaking just about everywhere. Alas, these slippery amphibians seem to have been seriously affected by the endless development all around and like a lot of flora and fauna, have disappeared from many urban localities, robbing the monsoon of one of its greatest charms.
Thousands of dramas, big and small, shall unfold in nature in the coming weeks as all life will try to make the most of the bounty of food that will now be available. Keep your eyes and ears open as nature reveals more and more secrets from her open diary.