Here we are again, kids. Me waiting for the 11:10 pm departure of flight UA49 at Mumbai International Airport. The time didn't fly, it evaporated.
Continuing in the theme of beauty products foreshadowing life, the nail polish I was sporting on my toes when I landed was OPI's "Monsooner or Later." I got to experience the monsoon season in all its early glory during this trip. What's funny is almost nothing is perfectly on time in India and rarer yet are things ahead of schedule. Except the 2013 rains. They showed up on Sunday, two days before the meteorologists' predictions, and it has been a soggy city ever since.
I was told that Mumbai can be at its most charming during "the rains." Indeed, it has a certain appeal. Suddenly, drinking hot coffee on a dark leather chair doesn't seem out of place. Fun detail: my coworker Purvashri used my name to place the order because apparently the anglo-saxon "Catherine" is easier to spell (kind of) than the indigenous "Purvashri?"
Laundry hanging to dry never quite dries. I tried to dry out my running clothes in the hotel by cranking up the A/C. Bad idea. All it did was put a chill in the air while failing to crisp things up simultaneously. On the upside, my skin has never looked so moisturized.
During many of the late nights on the phone, the general silence outside would be interrupted by a sudden uproar of cheers and horns honking. I quickly learned that this meant the rain was falling more intensely and everyone was rejoicing. Yes, loving getting drenched. I wanted to go out one night and take part in the giant communal baptism but feared my clothes would be a soggy disaster when trying to pack. Next time.
Cab rides are the poor man's version of a day at the spa AND amusement park. You hop in and within minutes everything is steamy because no one wants to crank open a window and yet air conditioning isn't a standard feature in the mini Fiats. After you've received your complimentary steam treatment you then exit the vehicle and feel a very soggy bottom. It's the same sensation as riding the log flume ride at your favorite amusement park. You get in the log/taxi thinking "Hey, this seat's pretty dry so there's hope." Then you depart 3 minutes later looking for napkins to literally wipe away the embarrassment of your droopy drawers.
But perhaps what struck me most about monsoon season, and this trip in general, is that sunny Mumbai had gone away for a few months. Everyday life patterns change and adapt to the perpetual rain. Clouds fill the sky most days, all day. The fabulous sunsets from the business lounge at the hotel were invisible (but the it-will-do Indian wine was always in sight!) I found myself jumping out of bed one morning when there was a trace of sunshine to welcome a morning run on Marine Drive. Quick! Get it before it's gone!
And on that note, they've just announced boarding for my flight. I must get that before it's gone, too. This was a good trip, but a hard one, if for no other reason than the many hours logged at the office and away from home. As seems to be the new habit, the hotel staff all asked when I'd be returning. It was a funny feeling as I thought aloud, "Um, whenever." Normally, I'm such a planner with these things but for whatever reason, I'll leave it up to someone or something else to decide when I head back to this crazy town. Monsooner or later!