The rains are back with a vengeance. A couple of days ago, walking after work under an ominously darkening sky, I was caught in the open when the heavens opened up. Of course, I had my umbrella, but an umbrella is little protection when it’s raining both vertically and horizontally. I took shelter in the veranda of a government office, donned my raincoat, and stood savoring the rain-swept scene (shown above). I then fell into a reverie.
Rain as heavy as this drives pedestrians off the roads. You’ll find them taking shelter in buildings and bus stops. You’ll also see people framing the doorways of their houses, their plans for the evening perhaps thwarted. Yes, it can get desolate, especially in residential or remote areas with little traffic. I’ve done a fair bit of rain walking in my time, striding along suitably umbrellad, raincoated, and rubber-booted, waterproof camera bag on my shoulder. It’s almost like exploring a ghost town, or even a different planet.
Well, I can afford the luxury of rain walking, but not everyone can. There are people for whom rain is literally a matter of life and death; their livelihoods depend on it. Farmers are the obvious example, but a colleague mentioned another category of rain-affected people: pavement vendors. Rain forces them to shut shop and wait the rain out; on bad days, their earnings get washed out. Rain at a time like this, the week before Onam, is bad for business. Many of these vendors have come from other states, and hope to make a killing during the Onam season.
The rain relented after a while, and I boarded a bus to Menaka. Alighting there, I saw pavement vendors’ wares stretching from Sealord Hotel to the SBI, all covered with plastic sheets. After what my colleague said, the scenes below took on a new significance.