— Written by Prakash
Growing up in California, it was impossible not to notice a cloudy day let alone a rainy one. My first memories of the downside to rainy days are from swimming competitions. During rainy swim meets, I could never set a personal best. Years later, I remember when my older brother returned from his first year of college in Pittsburgh and told me of the gloom he felt after not seeing the sun for several weeks in a row that past Winter. It was something we’d never experienced. On my summer evening commutes from Novato to Berkeley, I recall the daily crossing of Richmond Bridge – leaving the blue skies of Marin County in my rear-view mirror and entering the cloudy East Bay. What a drag!
These early experiences alerted me of the psychological impact that clouds and rain can have. I later learned that my personal experiences are affirmed by scientific studies of nightshift workers who miss the sun and non-natives of the Arctic Circle who decide to live there for a winter. Now in Kathmandu, I have a heightened awareness to the physical effects of clouds and rain. By comparison to other parts of South Asia, the summer monsoon in KTM is pretty mild. But occasionally, we’ll have a string of rainy days without a trace of blue sky in between.
For our family, two consecutive cloudy days results in getting no hot water at home because we rely exclusively on solar power for water heating. We also rely on the sun and wind to dry our clothes, so a couple days of rain can result in a severe laundry backlog. For me individually, rainfall equates to an extra slow and wet commute to/from the office. After the rain, most of the roads are muddy so those post-rainfall rides have me speckled with dirt by the time I reach my destination.
Of course, these consequences can be avoided. We could purchase a gas- or electric-powered water heater, and even a fan-assisted clothes dryer. Catching a taxi to work on rainy or muddy days is also well within my means. But for most KTM residents, the negative consequences of clouds and rain have to be faced.
These images flashed through my mind all evening long. I feel grateful for the lukewarm bucket bath which cleansed my face and legs of mud spots, for the wardrobe full of clean and dry clothes that are sure to outlast this rainy episode, and for the roof over our heads as we fall asleep tonight.