An Earth sign by nature, I have an infinite fondness for anything earthy and I am intimately attuned to the dance of Nature. The sweet smell of Earth after the rain, is intoxicating. So divine, it captivates my senses and brings with it boatloads of childhood memories.
I grew up in a coastal town in India. The beach was a hop, skip and a jump from my house. I would spend evenings on the beach, collecting shells, chasing crabs, playing Frisbee and watching the fishermen return after the day’s catch. October and November marked the Monsoon season. In the mornings, as my mother would tie my favorite twin pigtails, I would hear the pitter - patter of the raindrops. I would look out the window with big brown eyes and pray “Oh God, please let it rain harder. Let there be lightning and thunder. Please, flood the play grounds and cut the power off, if you can”. Most often, in the event of a heavy continuous downpour, the school would remain shut. I wouldn’t have to worry about the dictation for another day. But, as if God misunderstood my plea, the rain would stop. The skies would clear up. The sun would peep out. The only evidence of rain would be the scent of Earth, a little souvenir from high above. I would turn a deaf ear to my father’s offer to drop me at school and choose to walk the mile, just so I could infuse in the smell a little longer. I would look up at the sky, anticipating a rainbow, and would squeal and clap my hands in glee when I spot it. I would jump up and down, pointing to every passerby “Look! Look! Rainbow!”.
Rainy evenings were a boon to the old man who owned the soot-covered snack shop. People, including my dear father, would line up for his hot Aloo Tikki - potato patties fried until brown and crisp on the outside and soft inside. They are exceptionally tasty in damp cold weather. I would wait impatiently for my father to get back from work with packets of hot Aloo Tikkis. We would gather around the huge coffee table in the living room, while my mother would make hot Chai for us. Later, she would take me to the temple, to see the Peacocks dance.
With the warnings of an upcoming storm, my mother would take my raincoat and gumboots from the loft and keep them ready for the next day. I would complain that the raincoat was not pretty. “It is just a raincoat, dear. Whatever you wear, you are the prettiest”, she would say. My friends and I would walk through the flooded playgrounds, holding hands. The thought of falling into an open pothole used to terrify me. After school, I would make paper boats and make them float in a stream running nearby. I would take off my cap and dance in the rain, smelling the Earth all the way back home. Such innocence!