Review: Chasing the Monsoon

The Monsoon is coming to an end in this part of the world and the book this week “Chasing the Monsoon” already ended.

Now as I mentioned earlier I have a great fascination for Monsoon and its the time of the year I eagerly wait for. And when it rains it is heaven on earth.

In this book “Chasing the Monsoon” by Alexander Frater, the writer displays his fascination for Monsoon. How a photo of Cherrapunji keeps him reminding of Monsoon and the events that lead to him actually ‘chasing the monsoon’ in India from the point of its origin in Kerala to Cherrapunji.

The book is a decent read and brings out the Monsoon in India in a decent manner but overall I was dissatisfied with it. Mr. Frater did good job in elaborating the technicalities of Monsoon in India but failed to really elaborate the actual Monsoon in India.

At the end of the book you feel you didn’t get a good Monsoon, a drizzle may be.

He starts chasing the Monsoon from Kerala from where he goes to Mumbai and then Delhi and lastly to Shillong and Cherrapunji (en route Calcutta), but the Monsoon is not restricted in India to these places and the vibrancy, mood and elation of people is not caught well by the writer.

Chasing the Monsoon is such a great title and the cover picture on the book is great (its copyrighted to Lonely Planet) too and I had such high hopes that I wanted to get soaked in the Monsoon sitting at home while reading this book but it wasn’t to be.

The author’s experiences keeps on oscillating between Indian Monsoon and his grandfather’s memories at Paama Island  and at one point it really gets boring as you want to see the main picture i.e. Indian Monsoon whereas his memories of the past creates distraction and most of the time they are not much related with the Monsoon.

A large part of the book is eaten up in explaining how the author gets the permission to visit Cherrapunji struggling through Indian bureaucracy and red-tape. In all honesty we were not interested in that Mr. Frater.

The book do have some good pieces such as when the author  starts his journey from Kerala, the explanation of how Kerala works and how important is Monsoon for people out there and his piece about the first burst and eager people waiting on the Kovalam beach side for the first Monsoon showers.

There is so much to Monsoon in India that volumes and volumes can be written on it and yet you will not get satisfied. From the perspective of a Britisher this could be a good story but we Indians would have wanted much more when some one was actually ‘chasing the monsoon’.


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