Where I grew up, it would rain a lot. Darjeeling is a small hill station in West Bengal with an elevation of about 2,042 m above sea level. We’d always say, when you’re that close to heaven, the first showers do feel like blessings. All those who went to a convent school would relate.
Then it would just rain for days. Continuously.
Till you’d got used to a sheet of grey drizzle. We had something called a “sunshine holiday” which meant that if by chance we got one sunny day amidst the rain, all schools and offices would declare a holiday so that people could run home and put their blankets out in the sun.
Now when I think back, those days were precious.
Rain in the Mountains is something to see. Before it begins, everything darkens up and becomes still, like the calm before a storm and then it comes pouring down on the littlest of weeds, the wildflowers, the meadows, the pines, the Mountains which all come alive by the relentless pitter patter of a billion raindrops.
As kids, we didn’t have mobiles or gadgets those days to keep us hooked indoors. If we weren’t allowed to go out then we’d probably spend our days staring outside, keeping a close watch on the rain stains on our windows. On days we were allowed, there was no stopping us.
1. Paper Boats
Every child probably has a memory of making paper boats and then floating them down running drains and following them till they were either lost or destroyed. We would set them sail very seriously hoping to be on a real boat someday. Paper boat races were also very common, it was a great way to prove one’s merit and authority.
As kids, we didn’t really know we were hiking but when you live in the mountains, every walk is a hike. As soon as it would start raining, we were ready with our raincoats and gumboots to run up and down the hills, find caves (probably jackal caves) to take shelter and pretend to cook food with all the leaves and twigs we found around.
3. Jumping Over Puddles
Now that’s a classic. Who hasn’t done that as a kid or even as an adult (for some of us). There’s a different kind of joy associated with jumping over puddles and making sure that everything we’re wearing is muddy as ever. Not a treat for our mothers but definitely a treat for our young hearts.
4. Football or Basketball
Every little boy that I know went running out with a ball as soon as they saw the first drop of rain. The funniest thing was that you’d also see the little girls follow. This would always end up with a little quarrel over the team divisions but as soon as the rain got heavier, everybody would start running around the field not just kicking the ball but also kicking mud at each other.
5. Cycling Downhill
Cycling downhill is fun. Period. Imagine how fun it is to cycle downhill in the rain with all the water splashing on your face and you’re just swishing through like nobody’s business. The adrenaline, the fresh air, the thrill everything just makes the whole experience worth it.
Those were some of the games we played as soon as the rain started.
Truth is, we loved the rain. It was those few days in the year when you’re allowed to just go out there and have the time of your life. Honestly, the fondest memory was enjoying hot steaming momos or a cup of Darjeeling right after.