Picture this. You are walking down the dusty road to your childhood home, your mother by your side, laden with bags of food pressed into your hands by the friends you have just visited- their way of showing their love.
The relentless sun beats down on your back, soaking your clothes; and your hair sticks to your head and neck in wet clumps. The lake shimmers velvet blue and the frogs sitting on lily pads serenade the flies they are about to eat for lunch.
You chat to your mum, there is so much to talk about, a whole year of news to exchange. Your hands chafe from the bags, the sweat pools in your armpits and you think longingly of sitting under the ceiling fan in your childhood home with a bottle of something cold by your side, that is if the power’s on, which it most likely isn’t.
Passers-by stop to chat, everyone wants to talk to you, ask you how England is. Cold? Yes. Do they speak Kannada there? No. No? Why not? A man passes by on his bicycle, kicking up mud, bell ringing cheerily while he sings tunelessly along, the wheels which are in dire need of air, hobbling dangerously on the many stones. A gunny bag is tied to the front of the bike, in between the handlebars. He stops when he sees you and your mum. Do you want to see what’s inside, he asks, mouth stretched in a grin, pointing to the gunny bag. That is when you notice the gunny bag wobble suspiciously. Ummm, you begin, while your mum laughs and says, Go on then, show us. He unties the rope holding the gunny bag together and thrusts the moving bundle in your face. You see something uncoil and your scream goes on and on…
This is not a horror story. It actually happened, the last time I visited India. The man was carrying a python that he had just caught raiding the neighbour’s chicken coop. I ran a mile of course but not before thrusting the camera, which I carried everywhere like a tourist into my mother’s hands. She did click a lot of pictures- one of the python, but the rest of me running, while she and the man laughed and the python squirmed…
‘Write about what you know’ is the advice all the books on writing give you. And so I did. I know there are many books out there about India, but I wanted to write about the India I have known and experienced, my own personal slice of this land of contrasts, of searing heat and furious monsoons, of the generous warmth of its people, who will welcome you in and share the rice they are about to eat even if they don’t have enough to go around.
Monsoon Memories is about this India, the India I have lived and experienced and wanted to share, the India I know intimately.
Join in on the ride. I promise you, you’ll enjoy it.