Inside view: On the perils of walking in the rain

Walking in the rain, they say, is very romantic. May be so for heroes and heroines of Indian films who need only the provocation of a sudden downpour to burst into melodious songs and gyrate along the streets to the beat of uplifting music. But not for me. Try holding an umbrella with one hand, your hitched up attire with the other, simultaneously struggling to keep your bag from slipping off your shoulder while walking like a ballet dancer as you negotiate the impediments on the road, and you’ll get some idea of what I mean.

Much as I love the rain, in moderation, of course, I don’t exactly relish the idea of experiencing it when I’m walking on the road. Correction, when I’m walking on a pot holed road, which describes just about every road in the city.

Whether the roads had been hastily tarred just before elections or been given a quick face lift before the visit of the Prime Minister or the President or had been laid in the normal course of things by the PWD and then dug up promptly by another department, they unfailingly show their true colours and contours when it begins to rain.

I was caught unawares in a shower when the rains came back to the city last week. Welcome rains, of course, for people had started grumbling about the heat.

As a race, we are never happy with the existing weather, perennially craving for what it isn’t. If it rains, ‘What wet weather! Oh, for the warmth of the blushing sun!’ the petulant cry goes up; if it is sunny, ‘What blistering heat! Oh, for the showers of blessing!’

I had an umbrella with me, a light umbrella of umpteen folds and bought solely for its overwhelming merit of fitting into even my smallest handbag. The silliest reason for buying an umbrella, my husband had pronounced, but I was very happy with my purchase until I realised it had a life of its own. It moves in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. If it opens, it sometimes refuses to close and I’ve had to enter offices and shops and conduct my business as an eccentric with an open umbrella.

Perversely, it often refuses to open and I get wet in the rain holding a closed umbrella in my hand, inviting curious glances. If the wind blows into it, it turns its wrath on me by angling and pushing the handle into me in stabbing movements; if the wind is directed against it, the cowardly thing folds up without a fight and fuelled by the draught, takes off like Batman, pulling me along. I hold on to it for dear life until a very strong gust wrenches it from my hand and I end up giving it hot chase.

Oh yes, it has provided dollops of hilarity to onlookers, its ferrule has fallen off and a couple of its ribs hang down, but I continue to be devoted to it, if only because I don’t wish to admit it was not a sensible purchase.

That day, my umbrella opened but not fully. It flopped down like a droopy hat on my head. Ah, well, at least it afforded some protection. But one look at the fast filling pot holes in the road, another at the vehicles thundering past, and I realised I had rejoiced too soon.

I was walking along the right side of the road when I noticed a huge vehicle bearing down upon me from the opposite direction with malicious intent.

Pedestrians are sitting ducks for these deleterious drivers and the larger the vehicle the more callous they are.

The mouth-watering sight of people near a gigantic puddle made the driver accelerate and it was too late for me to cross the road. A man walking ahead brought his open umbrella down protectively to the vulnerable side, but my capricious umbrella denied me that luxury.

I wished to sprint past the danger area before the car came abreast, while the road hog didn’t want me to escape and be robbed of the ‘fun’. I almost succeeded when my foot treacherously slipped.

I regained my balance but that crucial second was enough. The vehicle, an SUV with a grinning driver at the wheel, deliberately bounced hard into the puddle and out, splashing a huge wave of dirty water over me but my head remained dry. Not yet time to buy a new umbrella.