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I hear thunder, oh don’t you?

As Delhi woke up to a particularly rain-drenched morning and its roads responded by getting suitably flooded and water-logged, weather woes climbed up to to the top of the news and gossip charts almost instantly. Traffic snarls aside, we got an overnight winter rainfall that was the highest in the last seven decades. Windchill notwithstanding, Delhiites usually have a loving relationship with rain and hail, and this is precisely the sort of western disturbances that they really look forward to. In fact, what we chiefly inherited from Britain, apart from the ubiquitous English language, is our national obsession with the weather and predilection towards the gloom or the bloom of the forecast. We are in a perpetual state of either admiring or disapproving of the weather conditions, and rains, luckily, happen to somehow reinstill our faith in the ever-increasingly disintegrating idea of India. As people wrapped in shawls and sweaters, sipping
masala chai
and gorging on a freshly fried, take a rainy break from their strennuous work routines, none of the wretched weather-battered self-pity characteristic of the global capital cities, such as London and New York, seem to afflict their happy hearts. In Delhi, the mininum temperature is a matter of pride, especially when the winter is bidding a tearful goodbye and a scorching summer is barely a couple of months away.

Although extratropical storms that result in winter rains are really a global phenomena, cities like London or New York, unless it’s Christmas, do not take kindly to snow, sleet and rain. The Tube in London and the Subway in New York often come to a grinding halt. Knee-deep snow paints the cities white, while the Londoners and New Yorkers drown their weather-related sorrows in clanking mugs of beer or clinking glasses of wine. Travel becomes a veritable hazard, and people are advised to stay indoors in the comfort of their gas-heated apartments. It is perhaps in the spirit of protesting against this sort of ‘capital punishment’, that very few English and American poets have actually felicitated rains in their verses, with the conspicuous exception of Percy Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. Icy conditions in Europe and America are reflected in the frosty faces of the men and women, who yearn for the summer sun. Our veneration of monsoons aside, even winter rains are welcomed with wide-eyed wonder. The umbrella, it seems, can never go out of fashion!
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