Posted in Environment

The sweet smell of the rain…

As the North East monsoons are on the last leg of this year’s cycle, I must say India is still fortunate to have had bountiful monsoons both South West and North East. One of few things still blessed about 2020 the awful year we left behind.

The south west spell (may to sep) normally brings minimum to moderate rainfall in Chennai/Tamil Nadu as this mostly benefits rest of India. Last year however, from mid July we’re having wet season in Chennai. But we were still skeptical. Groundwater was draining sucked out by powerful motor pumps bored street to street, as the monsoons were less than normal in last 2 years. The metro houses over 10 crore and that is a huge huge chunk of human population whose water needs have to be met on day-to-day basis. The best about the south west monsoons was that, it kept raining almost every other day right from August as rest of India was sinking. The rainfall was not heavy but it kept the sun off and the soil wet as the parched soil started retaining water after soaking dry for ever an year or two. It is this retained surplus rain water that is beneficial as it goes on to recharge the underwater table.

The north east monsoons took over right where the south west left, by october. Now it has been one long wet spell for almost half an year in Chennai on and off. It used to like this years, years back -may be last we had it was in the ’80s. Then the south west monsoons started bypassing us even if we in east coromandel coast stand to gain only 10% of our annual rainfall with cauvery delta to benefit largely, being the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. The north east monsoons are also now erratic that seasonal rains are now almost a past memory, and these days only cyclonic depressions in the bay bring us any rainfall. However, 2020 witnessed the seasonal monsoons without cyclonic storms as well after many, many years, like how we used to talk about ‘kaar kaalam’ once upon a time.

Our bathroom fittings all have gathered salt and our tiles have been bleached white in last one year with ground water with high saline content. I was using a water purifier without RO but last year I was forced to switch over to RO as the regular water purifier no more makes it to the market as it has no use these days. With high salinity in ground water, we are left with no other choice than RO.

With good monsoons, the lakes and reservoirs in the state/country are brimming. Non saline water has returned in our taps and finally our bathrooms are returning back to their original shape and colour albeit slooooowly. What a pleasure it is to taste the water here supplied by the water board which is not salty even as you brush your teeth early in the morning. Such a sweet rainwater taste in spite of the chlorine content. I almost forgot this rainwater taste in last many months. Corporation water we call it.

How quick it takes for the corporation water to dissolve and erase the deposited salt from your sinks, baths, pots and pans and vitrified tiles and plumbed fittings. Everyday I am watching my bathroom floor with nonskid tiles lose its salt deposit bit and bit and return to original colour howsoever gradually… There is a hissing sound from water heater that I serviced only a month back. Probably the accumulated salt is dissolving within the heater body as well. Only this season I switched on water heater in Chennai because of sustaining rains/mild chill. Otherwise I switch on water heater only in Doha winters never, never in India. Water heaters in Chennai are only for vanity, never used really. Practically everything at home be it washing machine or whatever has this scaling that needs a good scraping. Descaling is taking time but working with arrival of fresh water from monsoons.

Rinsing my face in the sweet rainwater flowing through the sink tap, I can see that even my skin is showing an improved tone even if by marginal degree. Lathers soooo much like it never did in last one year…. Rings of salt lines in the bucket are already fading… Everything is sparkling… the miracle called Monsoons!

There is not a day I don’t pray to Lord Varuna for good rains for the entire country.

If only we can manage our water resources well….. The current storage, if well managed and skillfully distributed, can last us upto 2 years easily. Or at least 1.5 years. We will be comfortable and ready to receive next year’s quota of monsoons.

Kapali temple tank in Mylapore is still running dry with any rainwater making its way to the tank getting quickly absorbed. There are also a number of deep wells in the tank that drain water. It still saddens me to see the temple tank without a drop of water even after almost 6 months of monsoons on and off. The smaller temple tanks in the city have filled up fast.

For the first time in 2 years, no more water tankers in the city roads. No more motor running sound in my house all 24 hours. Now the sump is full overnight.

Monsoons must be like this. Abundant but distributed over months, never pouring down in entirely in a day or two. The parched soil from the previous year needs to be drenched first from deep within. Rain water must be retained on top. We can have standing water only when there is gentle moderate rain for at least 20 days for entire nights with groundwater table improving bit by bit on slow recharging. By this time of the year, temperature starts falling and evaporation slows down even if by only a degree or two. This helps in water catchment on recharge. I guess finally this happened in 2020 after many years.

Nature’s gift. What a beautiful combination – Margazhi and Monsoons. Magical.

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