By: Saman Siddiqui
The first spell of monsoon has brought much needed relief from the unbearable heat of summer. , the season resides from mid of June till early September in Pakistan. It’s been long time that Karachi has received early rains from pre monsoon. This term Monsoon in English was first time used for British India referring to the seasonal winds which blow from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea in southwest, bringing heavy rain fall to the area.
Arrival of monsoon has always been greeted in subcontinent and has deep impact on art, literature, music, poetry, history and cuisine. The first drops when fall, bring along a sweet fragrance of dehydrated earth and cool soothing breeze which bring delight to the mind, heart and soul.
This sweet fragrance after rain, what we locals call Matti ki Khusboo, is named “Petrichor” by Australian researchers in 1964. According to them it is described as a combination of plant oils and chemical compound ‘geosmin’ which are released from the soil when it rains. Scientists also believe that the tiny particles that are released into the environment not only spread noticeable aromatic elements from soil but also bacteria and viruses stored there.
The moods change instantly just with the overcast clouds or with few droplets which pour down, bring magic to the people stuck in traffic. The snarls and glares are transformed into smiles and tolerance. Rains and their incessant magic have been a frequent theme entwined in romantic poetry that used clouds as metaphors to carry messages of lovers troubled by the pangs of separation. And when it comes to music, there are a number of songs which associate with the rainy season in particular and various moods.
Not many of this generation would know that the classical music includes a group of ragas which is inspired by the moods of monsoon, the Malhar. This raga is listen in when thunderbolts rock the sky and raindrops fall down on the ground delighting hearts and causing nature to rejoice after months of dry season. Classical musicians associate this raga with different stages of monsoon. ‘Mian ki Malhar’ goes with ceaseless rains, ‘Gaud Malhar’ is played when the monsoon is well advanced and in a playful mood and the ‘Surdasi Malhar’ is for the end of the season where there is an interplay of sun and rain.
Cloudiness and downpour are associated with craving for special food items, hot and spicy snacks. If its lunch time Aloo ka Parathas are a delicacy to be devoured with achar, raita and chatni. One paratha is just not enough, there seems to be an extra corner for eating all these without getting full. If it’s a tea time hot crispy pakora, samosa or any fried snack is a ritual to have with a steaming cup of tea. I would also like to have some crispy sweet jalaibi and few andalsay ki golain, a kind of fried balls made of rice flour covered with sesame seeds. But don’t be greedy to devour items like chaat, goolgappas and other tempting food items from street stalls even from the famous joints. This can somehow result in upset stomach and food poisoning. Monsoon diseases are mostly water borne, hence proper caution is required. Water for consumption should be either boiled or purified. As you don’t know the source of water in items like Khulfis, icecreams, golaganda and ice containing items, should be a strict no. It is better to eat healthy and safe.
There are much chances of food contamination in humid weather avoid eating outside. As you don’t know the source preparation, items prepared must utilize fresh veggies and meat of any kind. Eating onions soaked in vinegar, with meals especially in rainy season prevents food poisoning. The damp weather can sometimes cause joint aches. It’s good to sip up on bone broth, soups or yakhnni. Gelatin in bones joints provides ‘Glycine’, a kid of amino acid that builds healthy cartilage. You can also add veggies of your choice to enhance the flavor. This also helps from flu and fever caused by soaking in rain for long time. Soup can be a heartwarming dinner while enjoying your favorite music or TV program.
Excess humidity in the air tends to make your hair greasy. If you are hair style conscious, would definitely like to protect yourself from this seasonal hazard. Humidity can also aid in hair fall and dandruff. Biting into a peach or two daily in this season could be helpful. Peaches are rich in vitamin A & C and natural skin re-generator and moisturizer.
Heavy monsoon rains can be a great damage for the residents of urban areas, often resulting in flash flooding, traffic jams and electricity chaos. In the mean time for region like Tharparkar, monsoon rains are heavenly blessings. Fortunately this year Thar has received 60% of monsoon rains so far.