There are chances that the Monsoons will arrive before June 5.
As the infernal fires of Hell rage on Planet Earth (blame that on intergalactic Climate Change), the whole country is seized by a national longing for the rains. A nation's collective longing is best measured in centigrade — for the rising mercury merges, for a short period, the sigh of the suave urban Indian with the prayer of the poor farmer in the hinterland. And it is with solemn piety, that this nation of a billion people, meekly accept the predictions of the India Meteorological Department year after year with a nary an argument (with due respect to Amratya Sen).
As will be the case this year, the prediction of May 30 as the day for the arrival of the monsoons on Kerala's shores is wide off the mark. The monsoon is likely to skip the appointment date given by the government and private weather services with characteristic flippancy.
The Rain Gods have always had the last laugh when we humans try to pin the Big Monsoons to a particular date. The only certitude, one billion of you, is its steadfast uncertainty. And that governs the monsoon narrative with an iron fist from time immemorial. We study the disposition of the skies, the humour of the fickle winds and plot the ocean currents with a conceit of knowledge only modern technology can induce.
Hipplaus, the Greek navigator, in 1BC, who discovered the monsoon winds for the Western trading world, perhaps, knew much more than all the tech-aided weather forecasts of this century. All this data just gets more mind-boggling.
The Kerala skies have been dark and moody for the past two days and there is no let up on the low grumbling, muttering as the cloud build up creates a delusional immediacy to the arrival of the monsoons. A call to the Met department validates your delusions (if you are one who staunchly believes in recorded messages): a voice will promptly tell you, the state, is likely to witness thunderstorms and one or two showers. But if you persist further and get a live person on the line he will tell you, a little sheepishly, that the Monsoon is away by a good four days.
And the lovely literature on the Met department website explains that further with all the weather jargon: "The southwest monsoon is likely to set over Kerala on 30th May with a model error of ± 4 day. During the last few days, enhanced convection and increased rainfall activity has been observed over the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The cross equatorial flow is likely to strengthen and deepen over the area. As such, conditions are becoming favourable for advance of southwest monsoon over the Andaman Sea and adjoining sea areas during the next 3- 4 days."
The fishermen, who have their own way of predicting the monsoon, give a compelling picture in layman's terms (please note we are not naming the oceanic currents). They too agree it will happen before June 5. "The sea has withdrawn inwards and there is rise in the waters mid-ocean and also rise in waters along the coastline. We have seen in the last few days increase in speed of the south to north currents and more recently intensification of the reverse north-south drift which happens only during the monsoons. These two currents will clash and strengthen the winds, and before June 5 the monsoons will arrive on these shores."
We suggest you read some rain classics while you await the rains: Alexander Frater's Chasing the Monsoon or Where Rain is Born edited by Anita Nair. If that does not catch your fancy then there is always the Monsoon Special Bollywood song collection on Youtube to cool yourself a little.