by Swatee Jog
Have you ever walked barefoot on the sea shore…holding a fistful of sand…unmindful of the happenings around and lost in thoughts…only to find that the sand has dropped?
That’s the way it rains in Belagavi.
The clouds seriously start gathering around May when amazing designs form on the Belagavi skies. The pre-monsoon showers lash the city ferociously, accompanied by the percussions of the thunder and the special effects of the lightening. The trees that looked like kids soaked in mud while at play, suddenly have a shower after months and come out smelling heavenly. The drains get choked and the rooftops cleaned.
Then suddenly one June morning, the whole city is engulfed in a canopy of dark grey clouds and the skies begin their yearly chores. The Belagavi monsoon is serious business. There’s no fun and gamely hide-n-seek, at least in the first few days. It’s as if the Rain Gods have assigned serious tasks to the clouds and they must finish the same to avoid being expelled. The team assigned to Belgaum is like Maths students, complete concentration on the task at hand! The rains in Pune are jovial and vibrant, Mumbai and Goa have their own jolly rains that playfully drench the city and then run in merriment. Delhi rains are arrogant and have an air about themselves…they will come and go whenever they feel like. But Belgaum rains…the drops must be equal size, the pace is slow and steady…boring at times and the skies rarely open up to offer a glimpse of the sun.
I managed to see the moon yesterday and felt it looked like a disc of grated Gouda cheese! But it soon disappeared. Back in the eighties, when the Belagavi Over-bridge had no proper drainage system for the rainwater, the first flush filled the low lying area behind today’s Fire Dept. Office and the water gushed across the road towards Mangal Metal Works. It used to be a sight. My dad n me were once trapped in the sudden burst of water and his bike started drifting in the force of water with me clutching the handle and he walking with full strength holding the bike. I cried aloud and he kept reassuring me but when he brought me safely to Goaves, I thought he was a He-Man!
We would check the increasing expanse of the pond below the bridge to gauge the rain; that area is now a huge residential complex built by the KHB. Shastri nagar and Vivekanand colony- Maratha colony would invariably be cut-off from the city due to heavy flooding.
Rains in Belagavi almost always fill the low lying areas, especially in front of Globe cinema, Dharwad Road, Mahatma Phule Road and some parts of the inner by-lanes. The latter two are now a classic example of a slush-pit. Vehicles without proper mud-guards spray the slush on to the other tailing vehicles. The trees that once offered solace for those who’d forget their raincoats are no more around. The narrow lanes in the innards of the city too offer no shelter to the pedestrian caught off guard in the sudden pour. The civic bodies make little or no efforts to make matters easy. The bus stops have no proper shelter and the school kids run helter-skelter.
Some Mrs. Manohar is planning to make a film on Belagavi monsoon! Cool! Maybe because it doesn’t rain here like water out of a shower, rather it drizzles more than it rains, and that makes it all the more attractive.
But the same Belagavi rain brings about a veil of romanticism…the steaming chai, crisp bhajis available at many street corners, corn on the cob at Bogarves, thin streaks of fumes emanating from the roasted groundnuts with a dash of salt on the thela …The city turns green overnight and the cattle merrily graze on the outskirts. The Argan Talav (near Hindalga Ganapati) sports tiny lotuses blooming (now not visible after the wall being built by Army) and wells in Shahapur literally swell up. The first showers drop the mercury to lower levels. The drizzle inspires poets and house-wives gear up to dish out spicy stuff to beat the monsoon-blues.
That’s the fun of Belagavi Monsoon! Love, cringe or get irritated, but you can never hate it!