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Monsoon in the Afternoon

July 5, 2012

In India, the monsoon season begins from the West. After a couple of summer months with no rain, now the temperature in Chennai is cooling down (relatively, to the 90s F.) It has been some rains, too. It is still months away from the monsoon here, but the west side of India, like Goa and Kerala, may have been in the season already. Eventually the monsoon crosses Indian subcontinent and reaches to the Bay of Bengal, bringing Chennai more rain and some other stuff.

Monsoon Brings Refreshment

When you travel around popular commercial areas in Tokyo, say Ginza or Ebisu, the chance is high that you will find a restaurant called ‘Monsoon Cafe.’ It’s a chain restaurant specialized in Southeast Asian cuisine. They are themed after tropic resort hotels, a similar concept to Rainforest Cafe in the US. A generously designed interior space (hey, it’s Tokyo!) resembles an outdoor open terrace where you can enjoy refreshment while feeling a nice breeze after the monsoon rain.

The food is Asian fusion, covering Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Malaysian, and so on. Those who traveled in Southeast Asian extensively may say they are not authentic. But it is a relaxing moment to spend a weekend afternoon at Monsoon Cafe, enjoying a late lunch of basil chicken rice with Singha beer.

And Small Ninja’s

Apart from some refreshment, Monsoon in Chennai ‌brings two more things – mosquito and flood.

Despite the size of their brain, this blood-thirst little insect seems smart enough to attack the most itchy part of your body. Toes, fingers, lips, and heels. You can imagine how wonderful your sleep would be when woken up by a big bite on your pinky toe. I’m ready to sacrifice the other 98% of my body surface but they seems quite picky on where to bite.

My house is armed with local and Made-in-Japan mosquito coils, three rechargeable mosquito rackets (one for each room,) lemongrass aroma oil and  mosquito net on every window and bed. But they slip out all the traps and sneak into the bed, like Ninja. They hide themselves quietly during the day, but become active in the late afternoon. Refreshment on the terrace? Let’s forget about it!

With A Lot of Water

Monsoon also brings rain – a lot of rain. A city like Chennai cannot handle that much of water, resulting in a city flood. We all watched a footage of Bangkok flood, where people were eating basil chicken rice at a food stall on the street half underwater.

Some part of Chennai has a similar situation during the monsoon season. Knee-high water covers a street in front of a samosa and coffee stall. But you probably don’t want to eat out in the flood water because rain collects all the stuff on the street ‌– dirt, trash, garbage, animal and human waste, and so on. The street after the monsoon rain is not fresher, but rather dirtier.

Today’s Lesson

A cooling afternoon rain is surely refreshing. But it is not like the afternoon at the Monsoon Cafe in Tokyo. Their monsoon experience was not real. Now I plan to go to Goa next month, during the peak monsoon season. I will update you if I find a real Monsoon Cafe there.

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