It’s dark. Dusk. Early morning. I’m awake. I have to pee. I don’t want to get out of bed. The light through the window tells me it’s early.
I hear the monks chanting. They strike the cooper gong as they shuffle down the street draped in maroon robes. I can’t see them. But I know. The monks act as my morning time keepers. It must be close to 6am.
The neighborhood street dogs act as their chorus. Punctuating the chants and gong bongs with loud bursts of barking. The dogs love to sing. Almost every night they bless us with a symphony. A free concert they perform for their fans. Sometimes joined by a guest cat.
The female monks will start their rounds in about 30 minutes. Chanting. Stopping for food offerings. Heads shorn, swaddled in pink robes.
Begrudgingly I drag myself to the bathroom. After my bladder is relieved I debate. Go back to sleep for a bit. Make coffee. Attempt exercise. Mindlessly scroll through my phone.
Monsoon season makes the sky grey. Swirled with less than 50 shades and the faintest hint of the faintest blue. The air is heavy. Humid. It’s been worse. But I seem to be in a perpetual state of sogginess.
I like the rain. And since the season of the monsoon began it’s been raining more often than not. Sometimes heavy. Sometimes just spittle. I got caught outside in the first rain of the season. The rain and winds were heavy. The umbrella proved useless. My pants could not be described as dry. When I finally reached shelter I created a puddle each place I stood.
Sometimes the rain chases the power away. The lines get heavy with drops. And the lights snap off. Sometimes it’s only a short while. Last Sunday it was about 6 hours.
Umbrellas are necessary. If you prefer a poncho or raincoat make sure it’s lightweight. Rain here does not always mean cold weather. The umbrellas are big. And sturdy. But no matter the size and strength you’re still going to get a little wet.
The umbrellas make navigating the streets and sidewalks even more cumbersome. The waterproof domes compete with each other. Bumping into each other. Careful not to touch the exposed wires and low power lines that frame the sidewalk. A young man recently died after stepping into a puddle that hid a downed wire cable.
Flip flops and sandals are still the footwear of choice for most. Steps are shorter and more deliberate now. No one wants to slip.
Flooding occurs. Dirty grey water. Dirty brown water. Streets are filled with small lakes. The drainage system does not allow the water to pass. Buses and cars plow through, disregarding the passing pedestrians.
The ever present street stalls remain. A tarp draped over. The regulars sit on small plastic stools and wait. Drink tea. Eat noodles. Smoke cheroot cigars. Eventually there will be a lull. The rain will stop. Or grow soft. And then it will be time for them to move.
I continue my walks to work. Sometimes I am met with rain. Sometimes the sky stays dry during those 40 minutes. The ground is wet and covered in mud. And other dark substances, their origin story something I’d rather stay ignorant to. The tall red umbrella has become my go-to accessory. I took it from the office. It was a promotional gift from a telecommunications company. I pass other people who have received this same promotional gift. There is no embarrassment from having the same umbrella.
Rainy season means mango season. Mango season means I will eat mangos every day.
Rainy season means many days I will either fall asleep to, or wake up to the sound of rain drops.
Rainy season means sometimes I will stay inside my head too much and think myself into a corner.
Rainy season means some things will drown and other things will bloom.
And rainy season means life continues. This season will pass. And the next season will take its place. But whatever season it may be some things will remain the same.
Every morning the monks will chant.
The gongs will bong.
And the dogs will sing.