I remember a time when we used to sleep on the roof during summer in our old ancestral house in Old Delhi.
It was cooler up there on the roof than in the rooms. Besides, you could see the stars at night.
If you could not sleep, you could at least count the stars instead of imaginary sheep in the room below before falling asleep.
Now the culture of sleeping on the roof in summer is all but gone in Delhi.
In New Delhi, especially South Delhi, there is this culture of privacy and exclusivity. There is no sense of community living which was present in Old Delhi before air coolers and air conditioners put a stop to this at least for those people who can afford to buy them.
While sleeping on the roof, one always got the feeling that one was sleeping with thousands and thousands of other people under one common ceiling composed of of sky and stars.
IMy sense of belonging to a community disappeared when we moved to New Delhi
I did try sleeping outside on the lawns of a flat in New Delhi that we lived in once before my father died or on the roof after his death, as we changed a couple of flats. But it always gave me an eerie feeling.
As far I could see, I was the only one sleeping for miles around. Besides, my family used to get upset thinking I was out there sleeping alone on the roof.
I gave up. First to give them peace of mind and, secondly, because of mosquitoes. They never made their presence felt in Old Delhi. In Delhi, these were all over you. But I am digressing from my walk in the spring rain.
When it rained in Old Delhi and we were sleeping on the roof, I was the first one out of it.
The cry went get him out of the rain. There was always the danger of my catching cold and it progressing into severe respiratory problems if I got wet in the rain.
As a result, I never really got wet.
When I grew up and moved to New Delhi, I stayed at home during rains. And, if ever I got caught in the rain, I plodded through it as if it was so much water off a duck’s back. I was so indifferent to rain. And, strangely enough, because of that attitude or what I never became sick afterwards. So much so, it made me want to enjoy the rain once.
I asked a young woman taking shelter with me under an awning of a shop if she would be willing to walk with me in the rain.
“Raj,” she said.”It’s acid rain.”
I don’t know if she was trying to protect me or herself from the rains. All I know is I remained dry as ever then and ever later in life though many times I did get caught out in the open, but I never enjoyed the rains. I only got wet.