Why the rains are such a big deal for us in the UAE

We feel as if the Santa has come to town with his goody bag, and this time around, we wish it is to disperse the much awaited winter vibes

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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KT file photo
KT file photo

Published: Sun 19 Nov 2023, 7:26 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 Nov 2023, 9:42 AM

I come from a place, Kerala, which is synonymous with monsoons; the kind of rain that until a few years ago served as a motif to love and melancholy in movies and poetry. At its best, it was a revelry and at its worst, it was an annoyance, like a love-hate matrimony. And then, in 2018, things changed. The rain became an ugly orgy that swept away lives and livelihoods in a deluge that the people had never seen before.

Monsoons suddenly stopped being a literary trimming and people’s sentiment towards it turned ambivalent. The fear of rain lingered in our minds with chances of it turning rogue from romantic looking imminent every time the weather alerts rose to red. But we still loved our rains that cloaked our land in magical lushness and gave it the moniker, “God’s Own Country,” for the monsoons are a part of our sensibilities. It is hard to shake it off our psyches.

It was this pluvial connection that many of us missed when we relocated to the arid lands that embraced us with such warmth that we often melted in its sizzling arms. Spending a major part of the year in air-conditioned coops turned us into refrigerated fossils. Rains became a distant memory that we revoked by playing ambient music on YouTube and gave ourselves a synthetic, aural experience of the drizzle and the deluge.

Once in a while, when nature took pity on us, a few clouds appeared on the horizon defying weather patterns in subtropical high pressure belt such as ours, and we got some showers of blessing if the clouds chose to precipitate and descend on the desert. The instances of such benediction weren’t frequent, but we desert beings accepted what came our way like manna. For us, the occasional offerings were enough to believe that we still were in the good books of Mother Nature.

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But no land can remain stunted and bare just because nature is a tad indifferent to it. We built citadels in the desert, laid lawns on its sandy plains, landscaped our open spaces with petunias, geraniums and marigolds to hobnob with native cactuses, desert roses and date palms. And one day, when climate concerns began to rise, it dawned on the people who led us that what we could drench our dunes with rain if we used a bit of imagination. They gave it a euphonic name – cloud seeding. It evoked a pretty imagery of someone with a green thumb scattering cloud seeds in the sky that would yield teeming crops of water droplets.

It wasn’t that our skies didn’t get their natural share of clouds; it was just the clouds were reluctant to pour. Like all humans in stupor, the clouds needed a spur. So, whenever the warm humid air rose through the cooler surrounding air in the atmosphere, and stacks of clouds formed in our vacant skies, our men went on a mission to woo the clouds with salt catalysts and solicited them to precipitate copiously.

The clouds shed their diffidence and at once poured, bringing with them their rainy regalia – gusty winds, thunder bolts, lightning streaks, lavish puddles, traffic snarls, leaky windows, splashy roads and a symphony of huffs, puffs and hee-haws. It was as if the elements had decided to don us with its prettiest ensembles. We wore them elegantly and strutted around like unfurled peacocks. We opened our umbrellas, waded through ponds, paddled merrily, sloshed around and the few who took exception, stayed home and watched the morning after the rain from their windows.

It wasn’t a carnival for all, though. Many of us were woe begone. Cars went into disrepair, schedules got disrupted and then some. Much of the demur, however, was inspired by the suddenness of it than any real bother, for unlike regular monsoons, the rains here aren’t incessant or unforgiving. They are real only until they fall, and that happens every once in a while, when clouds gather at a pick-up point waiting for us to go and usher them down. And when they descend and create some commotion, we go slightly off kilter and make it the topic of the day. We feel as if the Santa has come to town with his goody bag, and this time around, we wish it is to disperse the much awaited winter vibes.

Many of us miss our native monsoon and its nagging joys, but its absence is generally not a matter of diurnal concern to those who are here to make a living. But then again, making a living is not about making money alone; a good life is not just about living it up in a glitzy town; it is also about having the drizzles on the cake, for as American Poet H.W. Longfellow wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.”

(Asha Iyer Kumar is a Dubai-based author, columnist and children’s writing coach)

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