“A van adicha adila mazha kottudhu da !” — Lanky school boys at the Poou Market bus stop chuckle, probably talking about a walloping they received earlier in the day. They stand soaking at the bus stop, making no effort to find a shelter. Another group of four girls in salwar kameez huddle under one umbrella, talking more quietly amongst themselves. Two young women in saris, juggling books and tiffin box in one hand, hold colourful umbrellas in the other. A boy whips out a murukku from his pocket and munches loudly.
I decide to ride through Oppanakara Veedhi. Will it be deserted? Not at all. Shoppers stride in and out of textile showrooms, not one bit perturbed by the rain. As the evening wears on, the steady drizzle turns heavier; my hands turn numb. I wonder if I should stop for tea somewhere.
But most tea-shops, even the tiny ones, are crowded. So are the street-side pushcart thattu kadais . Bikers in rain-coats stop by these carts and eat piping hot kalaan and masala pori on steel plates lined with plantain leaves.
Cross-Cut Road too has its share of enthusiastic shoppers. There’s more to snack on here. Freshly roasted groundnuts and steamed corn anyone? Pedestrians walk in the rain munching on these.
Slushy roads, clogged drains, traffic jams...the rains do upset everyday life in the city.
But then, there are things you observe then that make you smile; things that you wouldn’t notice otherwise. A skinny man cycling hard against the wind with a plastic cover over his head, a family of four with identical rain-coats on a scooter, a pensive man standing at a street-corner with a limp cigarette, a happy raincoat-seller by Mettupalayam Road smiling a welcome to his customers, gleeful school boys who splash about with pants folded up till their knees…
Eighty-five-year-old Pappamma who sells plantain leaves, sits in front of the Poou Market with an umbrella in hand and a towel wrapped around her head.
She beams at me revealing a single front tooth. “Rain is good for us. But I don’t have that many customers today…” she trails off. Women selling tulsi squat by the road, the leaves wrapped in saris. They sip tea unmindful of the drops of rain that fall into their cups.
Flower sellers too sip tea in front of their hillocks of malli and mullai.
“ Oi enna venum ?” asks a young shopkeeper indifferently, as he bites into a bajji. He lets a lot of prospective customers go by. “ Mazha vandha onnum odaadhu — Nothing moves if it rains”.