Climate

Mumbai Monsoon proof gear

2:53 PM

India is a fairly dry country about 9 months a year, with many areas where it will barely rain at all outside the monsoon season. Heck about 80% of all rain falls in India happens during the monsoon. And when it rains, it pours…at least in Mumbai.
When I was living in Bangalore we used to get rain during the monsoon, but not in such a huge torrential amount as Mumbai gets. If a rain spell stroke us, we would retreat to the nearest mall or cafe and wait for the rain storm to pass, it could take around an hour or so at the most until it became walkable outside. So needless to say that for quite some time we never even really invested in umbrellas while living in the garden city. you don’t see people carrying them around at all time during the rainy season either, and they aren’t sold at every single corner store the way they are in Mumbai. Not that people don’t use umbrellas down there, it’s just that they are far less a necessity over there than they are here in Mumbai. I think we ended up buying one for each of us in 2007 but probably only used a handful of time. We started putting them to intensive use when we moved to Navi Mumbai in 2010, at which point I swear they started copulating in the storage room and bred a flock of umbrellas judging by how many we packed and unpacked when we moved back to B’lore in 2011. I think one of DH’s colleague forgot one he never picked, we won another one as a freebie somewhere…when we shifted back to Mumbai in August 2011 we killed a few of these umbrellas, in 2012 DH invested in a big wide cane like umbrella for himself, we bought Ishita one, and I finished killing the remaining old ones.

So much so that this year I had to go umbrella shopping because the only survivor left was a white tiny umbrella I remember buying in Switzerland in 2008 after I landed in my homeland realising that I never packed my umbrella in Bangalore, having completely forgotten that in Switzerland the weather is far less predictable than in my new home. I remember finding myself stupidly stranded in the train station in Geneva because of a downpour, and went doing what any forgetful genevan does: head to the nearest store to buy one of these small foldable ones that cost barely 10 bucks  and will come to your rescue once, or twice before breaking down.
Turns out that this white one was more durable that I thought, it is after all still intact in 2013, but then it was the smallest of the stock of umbrellas we had, it would have come in handy in Bangalore, in Mumbai it barely covers your head enough, and I got drenched using it last Sunday, vowing to bid it goodbye (or sending it to the emergency brolly stock). I ended up coming back with this one :


2013-06-12 09.55.55

The big purple one on the right, I planned to take it beside my old Swiss plain white one, but Ishita insisted we take her pink one in the picture too. Notice how hers is totalled, and it’s not even from using it that much in the rain, but from playing with it so much with it inside! This year her school announced there will be no umbrellas allowed in school, only rain coat, so I didn’t buy a new one for her, she can continue totalling hers this monsoon during the weekends. I am hoping my own brand new purple one will last the season considering that it is all plastic, but seriously considering the abuse these things go through in this weather I didn’t really feel like spending a massive fortune on one, I just knew I wanted something bigger and do without the foldable feature because frankly as handy as it comes to store a dry umbrella in your purse, they tend to break faster. Not to mention that in Mumbai they don’t spend a lot of time being dry in the first place, minimising their stay in a purse greatly.
But they are still very popular in stores. As I said all stores and supermarkets end up selling them during the monsoon. because that is one of these seasonal accessories you can’t live without. I never even knew there was that much choice in the brolly department…EVER In Switzerland despite having rain year round, umbrellas are more conservative: black, white, solid standard colours, and a rare floral print here and there. If you ask me they are as dull as the weather is most of the year in my homeland. In Mumbai you have several sizes, rainbow coloured ones, tiny ones, foldable ones, kiddie ones that have popping eyes and wings (as in Ishi’s butterfly one), they come mostly in colours and prints in most stores, you even have some “double umbrellas” which I have seen once in Navi Mumbai. It appeared to me that umbrellas around here are to be fun compared to back home. The monsoon is dearly awaited as the Summer months drag and get hotter and more humid, and it is starting to feel like people continue celebrating the rain with colourful umbrellas, despite the monsoon becoming a bit of a pain a few weeks into it. Then of course there are those like DH who need to have one that look “smart” to go to office because, well you know you can’t be a senior employee in a company and have all the juniors taking you seriously if you walk in with cartoon printed one. But for all the others that don’t have to look serious, there is no limits. The brighter the better, which considering how dark it gets during a downpour might not be a bad idea, easier to spot a pedestrian carrying a rainbow umbrella than one carrying a black one while you are driving.

11 comments

  1. Arunesh11:42 PM

    Umbrellas are convenient no doubt, but I prefer raincoats here in Bangalore, since the rains aren't torrential, unlike Mumbai.

    The summer's been non-existent this time around though. The mornings are generally cloudy with drizzle in the evening. I can't imagine living anywhere else!

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  2. Totally agree, umbrellas in Bangalore are really not that needed. In Mumbai there are a lot of commuters that also back rain coats and waterproof over pants things to wear if there is a sudden downpour, along with their umbrella for quite a few, because when it starts pouring down in Mumbai you never really know how long it will last, could be an hour or it could be days.
    I miss Bangalore's climate a lot!

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  3. Arunesh11:25 AM

    The flip side of Bangalore's climate is that it makes you less tolerant to extreme climates. For instance, having lived in Bangalore all my life, I found the winters of Lucknow mind numbing during my last visit!

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  4. Very true, but I think unless you live on a continusu stretch in North India, the Winters there are though to deal with :), not to mention Summers. We headed to Lucknow last Summer for Ishita's birthday and even though Mumbai is steaming hot in Summer we had problems adjusting to the dry heat there which left us roasting. DH is from there, but has spent a solid decade away from his hometown so he found the heat thought to deal with too.

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  5. Arunesh1:02 PM

    Yes, the heat is insufferable, esp. with frequent power cuts. We try our best to avoid the summer months to visit.


    My family migrated from Lucknow to Bangalore two decades ago and every now and then when we visit back, our relatives label us as "too weak" to handle extremities!

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  6. Beatrix11:23 AM

    It's raining, it's pouring here in Nepal!!!
    Flash flood warnings are being issued, AGAIN!
    Raincoats are hard to find here in Nepal, the closest thing are the rain ponchos being sold to tourists trekking.
    I bought some SERIOUSLY heavy duty umbrellas in Bangkok about 7 yrs ago- they are still hanging in there despite being 'manhandled' by my husband, nephews & sons.

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  7. apple3:24 PM

    We had several umberallas of different sizes. All were black in colour and big made of wood, iron and cloth. One was so big that two to three people could come under it. A whole cottage industry revolved around umberallas. People got them repaired time and again. So typical of Indians, from umberallas to slippers every thing gets repaired till they are non usable. With time, those huge umberallas are no longer seen unless in the hands of some old man.

    In Delihi, we no longer get continous rainfall for several days. The monsoon is getting shorter every year. All we get is one or two days of rain and then humidity. There has been drastic change in the weather patterns due to pollution and global warming.

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  8. My purple umbrella already won't stay closed if I don't use the little strap to secure it, oh well at least it still is in one piece. I don't like wearing rain coat much because I sweat a lot and they get uncomfy very fast, but it's easier to have Ishita in one than making her hold an umbrella to stay dry :)

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  9. A 3 people umbrella, that's what I should need to keep myself, my purse, and Ishita dry :)
    Seriously I would love to be able to get umbrellas repaired rather than buying new ones all the time, but these cheap ones break badly in just a few uses. I remember having some of these heavy duty wood and sturdy metal umbrellas around the house as a kid. DH found one similar to these last year somewhere and is the largest of all of ours, he paid nearly 1k for it too though, quality has a price as always :)

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  10. Beatrix11:02 AM

    That's one thing I really like about India-
    You can get just about anything repaired!
    In the US it is usually more expensive to fix something than to buy a new item!
    So the broken item either gets tossed or donated to a charity & you just buy a new one.

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  11. I love that too, in Switzerland getting something fixed cost you nearly twice the price of actually buying a new one, so unless you have a huge sentimental value attached to the object in question, it's no longer worth it.
    My limit in India however is 3 repairs, if an appliance went kaput too many times or too often I simply buy a new one and let my maid take the old one to do whatever she wants with it, fix it or sell it for scraps. Because with each patch up the appliance ends being a bit less reliable.

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