The monsoon is finally here. It’s been raining all day, the temperature has dropped and the plants have been rescued from the brink of a geothermic meltdown. I had always thought that if you had to resort to talking about the weather, you might as well not speak at all. But that was before I really appreciated the difference the weather makes and of course, before I went to the UK. Over there, the weather is like one of those hangers-on friends – the one who is always temperamental, always getting its way but who can surprise you with warmth.
My first Sunday after college started in London and it was very wet and miserable. My “foster family” – my parents’ classmates since medical college, who I have known since I was a baby – called me up to say they were making dosais. After 3 weeks away from India, the cravings for Indian, specifically South Indian food was starting to rear its delectable head and I was tempted. But I remember saying, “I can’t come all the way to Highgate,” I lived in New Cross, the geographically and economically nether region of the city, “because it’s raining.” I got plenty of laughing at the other end of the line and it was explained to me that this was London and I had better get used to travelling in the rain or I wouldn’t be stepping out of my room. I recall it to be a great Sunday of hot crispy dosais and strong decoction coffee.
I don’t think I ever accepted London’s constantly changing weather. The rain annoyed me the most – constant, sharp, cold, drizzly. I wish it would just rain a big ol’ thundery refreshing burst like during the monsoon in a tropical country, and then be done with it. Because the city is so built up you can’t smell that smell the earth gives off ten seconds before it’s going to rain. I looked it up on Google Uncle and the website The Straight Dope told me that there are micro-organisms in the soil called Geosmin that release a compound when the earth is disturbed like during a hard rain, which is the smell you smell before it rains. “When a storm threatens and a few molecules of geosmin waft your way, that signifies rain is falling to windward, and in the fullness of time will fall on you.” The human nose, which is not a very acute instrument compared to say, dogs, has the unique ability to detect geosmin at an incredibly low level of just ten parts in a trillion. But another website, How Stuff Works didn’t mention Geosmin at all and instead talks of a bacteria called Actinomycetes that release spores in to the air especially when dry earth comes in contact with the “kick” of a heavy rain. Either way, in a concretised world of a city, you’ll rarely get that sweet, before the rain smell.
The Indian monsoon rain has been much written about and I remember the book, Chasing the monsoon: A modern pilgrimage through India by Alexander Frater on our bookshelf. One never really saw children splashing about in puddles and celebrating the rain in England – it’s just too cold and rain is too common. When I was growing up, “rain walks” were something we looked forward to. No raincoats or umbrellas, just respite from the obliterating summer heat.
Admittedly, I don’t splash about in puddles anymore but I do like to go for a walk in the rain (properly attired though). We’ve had ABroozi for 3 years and in all this time we’ve never got him a raincoat. I’ve always wanted one for him because a dog’s underbelly and legs get horribly dirty and muddy in the rain, especially since where we live is not at all concretised. The smell of wet dog in ones house is not great either. Last weekened we bought the last raincoat in our pet store (Marshall’s on Jail Road, Vizag), ergo the lack of choice as to those Pokemon like figures on the back. But at least it’s blue which is one of only two colours that dogs can see (the other being yellow). It’s a little bit big for him (lengthwise and around the mid-section) but on it’s maiden voyage today, it managed to stay on and Abroozi just about got used to it by the end of the walk, which I consider a huge success. He was hardly dirty when he got home and dry as a cupcake. The raincoat comes with a hood but it tends to get in his eyes which he does not like at all.
At first I thought it was just the dog owners’ obsession with dressing their dogs up to look cute but I can see real utilitarian value in a raincoat for your dog. But get one that is a snug fit. Also, I put the harness over the raincoat (there is a little hole so that you can affix it under the coat) but I think it holds the raincoat in place much better. In this monsoon season, i think it’s an essential part of your dog’s assorted collection of stuff.
You can buy them on ebay India but they are imported and in excess of Rs.1000 and mostly for small poodle type dogs. Try your local pet store for more range, unless you live in Vishakapatnam where you’ll find none because we just bought the last rain coat in stock from the only decent pet store there is.
And he just looks so damn cute!