I'm bad about heights. I hate flying. So naturally, I always try and get a window seat in an attempt to cure myself of this phobia.
As we head South-West across the plains, I look down at the lattice work of fields in various shades of brown and yellow. Below, small fluffy clouds advance. Not so small, I see: their shadows cover complete towns. Perhaps they will have a few showers for the broiling north.
Somewhere midway, the captain tells us, in a strong Australian accent (or perhaps it was NZ), that there's a spot of cloud approaching, we should belt up, and the service would halted for a while. (Oh yes, if you're flying Air Deccan, do not have the samosa. Twenty-five rupees gets you one of them, and it's a hard, cardboardy, tasteless thing. And carry change. The flight attendant owes me five bucks.)
I clasp the armrest, knuckles white, as I peer forward to the wall of cloud that stretches further than I can see above, below, and to either side of our flight path.
We go straight into it. Gawd, I think, how the effing hell did aviators manage this in the days before radio beams and radar and computers and whatnot made flying as safe as it is today?
And yes, this is where all the rain is. The clouds we passed on the way looked like an armada, Many of them, yes, stretching off to the horizon, yes, but each separate from the other. This was the real thing. This was the monsoon in no uncertain terms.
After what seems like forever, we break through the wall, and we're floating above a carpet of cloud, an unruly carpet, twisted into phantasmagorical shapes by the conflicting air currents, spires, and spirals, and whorls, and castles, and mythical creatures, and waves, and, and, and... shapes for which I have no words. Here and there, shafts of sunlight cut through, stirring up fluffy maelstroms, where they meet the thicker clouds. I completely forget that I am terrified of flying.
We begin our descent, and as we get below the cloud, low enough to be able to make out details of the land below us, I can pick out individual fields again. These are all brown. Not the dry brown that characterises Maharashtra most of the year. No, this is the brown of mud mixed with water. Of fields stirred up by lots of heavy rain. And its raining now. The windows are streaked with water racing across the plane's fuselage.
And finally, we cross New Bombay (Hi Mom!), and the creek, and Bombay itself slides into view.