monsoon arrives

a sabbatical rest, day 170

Kathmandu lockdown, day 49

A monsoon, technically, is a seasonal prevailing wind. But in practice it is a prevailing wind that comes with rain. Every day. For weeks. Meteorologists plot it and predict it, since it impacts both food security and personal safety.

We were supposed to fly back to the USA yesterday, just as the monsoon arrived. But since our flight was delayed for two weeks, we get to experience it. Notice I did not say enjoy it. I’m enjoying it right this minute, sitting on our balcony in a cool evening breeze. And some days, it’s pleasant to watch the rain, especially in a downpour when I’m safe inside. But the rain is unpredictable.

The clouds, however are not. Clouds all the time. Every day. For a couple of months. Did I mention hot and humid? That too. Humidity over 90% all day long. We’re grateful for air conditioning in our apartment, admittedly a luxury but we’ll take it.

The monsoon here in Nepal comes from the southeast, originating over the Bay of Bengal, about 400 miles (ca. 644 km) away. The newspapers have been tracking its arrival for a few weeks, and are now reporting on its effects. Floods and landslides along the swollen mountains rivers, not so much. Homes, bridges and people are swept away, with over 100 families displaced and a dozen people missing or drowned just yesterday.

On the positive side, the wet field are essential for the rice crop. A recent loosening of the lockdown is partially related to the need for agricultural workers to get to the fields. While the pandemic has devastated people’s livelihood, failing to get the rice planted could destroy their lives, which for many hang on a fragile thread as it is.

So, the rains are welcome. The floods are not. The rain is not constant. It rains every day, but often in short periods, particularly in the afternoon. If we stayed longer, I could see myself getting tired of it, not unlike how I feel about the long, gray months of a Michigan winter.

Actually, one of the reasons we like coming to Southeast Asia each winter is the clear skies and bright sun. The list of reasons we like being here is very long, actually, and next week I hope to write about the things I’ll miss when we get back to the USA. But the monsoon won’t be on the list.

So far, we have still been able to go out for food in the mornings. I even found the toner I needed for my printer. We’re safe, of course. No danger of flooding here in our 7th floor apartment. And few things are more delightful than getting rained in with Katie.

But this is a tropical climate, and by late morning it’s too humid to be outside anyway. So much so, that I wrote a poem, something else to do on a rainy day.

Monsoon in Kathmandu

Sunlight pierces darkening clouds,
Buildings glistening in the sun—
Pastel cubes beneath the sky.

Darkness stacks up south and east,
The coming rain banked high and black;
Downpours come as day resigns.

For weeks this illusion lasts,
The sun unyielding though unseen.
The shadow’s promise lies;

Humid heat betrays the sun.
But then an errant breeze objects;
Fragrant. Refreshing. And so fine.

Wally Metts, June 15, 2021

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