Sunday, October 19, 2014


It hasn't stopped raining in three days.

I underestimated the power of the monsoon or what it meant to experience it and, too, the difference between a monsoon and rain.

I don't even think that Chennai is supposed to get monsoon rains like the rest of India knows. I was under the impression Chennai received little or not monsoon, with the rain mostly falling to the west of the Nilgiri Mountains, in Kerala and Karnataka states. In Tamil class back in Washington, I remember listening to newcasts that were (and still are) completely incomprehensible. Our instructor explained to us that the governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala states feuded often over water. The rain fell in Kerala, but flowed to Tamil Nadu, unless the Kerala state government dammed the rivers or otherwise diverted the flow back to their own side of the sub-continent. The federal government was supposed to get involved. I don't know if they ever did.

The skies darkened on Friday afternoon as though night were falling, and that is when the rain began. It hasn't stopped yet.

I drove home from work through rivers both literal and figurative. Half the population commutes on motor scooter, and people rode home in the rain, hair stuck to their foreheads and temples in jet black threads. Wet jeans, wet shoes, wet shirts. Women hiking up their saris to forge recently appeared streams. We need new windshield wipers on the car (we never have need to use them), and I saw all this through a distorted wet streak on the windshield.

Yesterday, Saturday morning, I woke early to run. The rain pattered outside, and I was torn, wanting badly just to lie in bed and listen to the spray of the rain against our bedroom windows, but knowing I would be mad at myself later if I didn't take the opportunity to run when I could. I slowly popped my eyes in and pulled my Nikes on, and flipped the treadmill on with a beep.

I started slow, but at least I started. Thunder grew louder outside, until--exactly at the two mile mark--a clap of thunder startled me mid-stride, and I did a little skip on the spinning belt. I switched the machine off, and ran up the stairs, the soles of my sneakers squeaking on the marble.

As I reached the top of the stairs, I heard her.


It was 5:30, but the lightning at started Pete and Sam out of bed, too. Sweaty, shirtless, I hoisted Clementine from her crib and held her close. My sweat soaked her blanket, but she didn't seem to care. "Thunder scared me," she told me.

Better two miles, I told myself, than none at all.

It rained all day. Sundar came to work around 9:00, a drowned rat even though he had taken the bus instead of his two-wheeler. We drove to Sangeetha for breakfast. Later, the boys sailed paper boats in the lake in our front yard, the entire house is surrounded by water, as though a moat.

Yesterday afternoon, Elise and I drove to the mall. Somehow, we had timed our departure from the house to coincide with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha's return to Chennai. In the soap opera drama that is Tamil Nadu politics, she was recently found guilty of charges of accumulating disproportionate funds (a nice way, I suppose, of describing corruption) in a Bangalore court and sentenced to four years in jail. She was there a month before her sentence was suspended by the Supreme Court.

The streets were lined with her followers--decked out head to toe in white shirts and dhotis--cheering in the rain. bands beat drums and played. News trucks, satellite dishes pointed to the sky, crowded Poe's Garden in front of the Chief Minister's residence. The streets were closed, but somehow Sundar needles is way in which, though embarrassing (I wouldn't be surprised if our car made it onto the local news), did prove to be the fastest route to the mall.

There, Elise (finally) got a chance to do some shopping she had been wanting to do without three kids clinging to her. A new Krispy Kreme recently opened at Express Avenue mall, and we said "Why not?", bought a dozen to bring home to the kids and had two signature glazed for ourselves, a rare treat, light as air and just as sweet.

This morning as I woke, I heard thunder rumbling in the distance, a reminder that the rain, not knowing if it was coming or going, was still falling. Clementine had woken at 4:30 and somehow ended up in our bed, sleeping on my face.

Knowing some proactive parenting was in order to keep the kids from killing themselves and driving Elise and I up the wall, I initiated "Dad School", an impromptu set of lessons mostly meant to keep them from going stir crazy.

After breakfast, everyone got dressed ("Hurry, Lulu! You're going to be late for class!"), then headed down for math lessons. I printed out work sheets for Pete, coloring pages for Clementine, and Sam did math word problems on my computer.

After math, was P.E. We stretched, did jumping jacks, then I helped them through their sit-ups and pull-ups before getting them on the treadmill. I was trying to run them. It worked on everyone, except Pete who, as usual, didn't nap. Sam and Pete ran a quarter mile each. Clementine made it 0.03 miles in one minute!

After P.E., was snack, cookie butter sandwiches. This mostly ended Dad School as we had to run to the store, then drove through most of Alwarpet in the rain in search of samosas.

Sunday morning ended with me bottling a stout I had brewed two Sundays ago. Sam and Clem will be waking from their naps soon. The rain has stopped...for the moment. The skies are still dark, dark gray and could open up again any minute.

Oh. Wait a sec. Yup...

They just did. 

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