October 5, 2022
I have an app on my phone that plays the sound of rain. I use it to help me sleep, to drown out unwanted noise from cities and neighbours. I didn’t need it last night however, because the real thing has been steady right outside my window.
In truth I love the sound of the rain. Being cosy in bed while the heavens pour is a special kind of comfort. It makes me feel like I’m 7 years old again. After a long-haul flight to reach Nepal the patter of rain-drops on tarpaulins drummed me to sleep last night. My brain gave little resistance, allowing itself to be submerged in the soundtrack and float downstream.
We’ve arrived in Kathmandu at the start of October and things are very different this year. The rains haven’t stopped. It’s a similar story in both Bhutan and Nepal, a lunar date around Sept 15 when “the rains stop”. One year we had a late monsoon push its way into the Annapurnas at the end of October, causing considerable chaos on the roads and our schedule. This year is different, this year the rains simply haven’t stopped at all.
Mid September is when the festivals start up again. Some traditionally celebrate the dry weather, most are simply waiting for it. Dussehra is one of the big ones, right up there with Holi and Shivaratri. It’s a classic story of good triumphing over evil – “Dussehra” literally means “the tenth day”, as the culmination of 9 days celebrating Navratri and Goddess Durga defeating the demon Mahishasura. We’ve arrived in Kathmandu in time for Dussehra, which means no laundry service and a tricky time finding a store to sell us local sim cards.
I do find it hard to keep track of the festivals in Nepal, especially with such a broad range of religious observances across the country. Sometimes I think there are as many festivals in Nepal as there are raindrops. Twenty days from now will be Diwali, which I remember as “the row of lights”. I forget how many days the Diwali festival will run for, and which days are the big ones. So long as the rain has stopped by then, I don’t mind.
A quick glance at the weather forecast is more illuminating than the festival calendar. Two more days of “Rain 100%”, then two days of “Scattered Thunderstorms”, followed by four days of “Rain 70%”. There’s a “Partially Cloudy” on the tenth day of the forecast, so that’s going to be my big day to celebrate. I might call it “Ansika Badala” (Partial Cloud in Nepali) and offer a few prayers to the gods myself.
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