Monsoon Musings - In Search of Past Memories

August 7, 2009

This is the longest monsoon that I have been experiencing in my native village since last fifty years. There is no other season that takes one close to the nature as the monsoon does. The monsoon period, roughly from June to September is a lively and exciting season. The surrounding greenery with fresh vegetables and flowers are a treat to the eyes.  With festivals at regular intervals, people try to find peace with God and nature.

With the first showers of the monsoon, the peculiar smell of the wet soil remains in memory till the next monsoon. The croaking of frogs and squealing sound of rain birds proclaim the beginning of the monsoon season. Within few days of the pre-monsoon showers, the once dry and barren land comes to life with sprouts of grass. The thirsty plants and wild bushes become greener and the atmosphere cooler. With the insects coming out of their hibernation, verities of birds perched on trees or electricity wires wait patiently to feed on them. The cats too have a field day hunting bigger insects for fun and food.

Monsoon season has been a busy time for the agriculturists since ages.  Ploughing and preparing the fields for paddy transplantation has been one of the chief activities. Not any longer, as many of the agriculturists have given up this activity or have reduced the number of fields they cultivate. Gone are the days when buffaloes were harnessed to the yoke to do this job. The sound of the plough-hand enticing the pair of buffaloes to move faster or the shrill words commanding them to move to the right or left or straight are no longer heard. The tiller-machines have taken the place of the buffaloes with monotonous sound that sometimes irritates.

Transplanting the paddy saplings by women in large number was a common sight in the past. The folk songs that they used to sing (pad'danas) to entertain themselves have disappeared. In modern times, the few women labourers, hired with great difficulty, neither have interest nor knowledge of the legends and stories to sing such ‘pad'danas’.
The sound of the wind accompanied with heavy rains used to evoke awe and fear of the nature among the people. With the trees and tall coconut trees swinging in the wind, the fear of their collapse would force everyone to invoke God’s mercy and say a little prayer for the safety of the houses and life.

The continuous rain would confine practically everyone in the house.  Watching the downpour, stretching the hand out to feel the rain or sitting on the veranda and extending the feet to feel the water streaming down the roof was an experience to remember. The spray of rain would send mild shivers across the body and force us to run inside for safety wrapping our bodies with bed sheets or blankets.

As heavy rains usually immobilized the people, they craved to eat something or the other. The roasted tamarind seeds were common that would test the strength of the teeth and last longer in the mouth.  Fried sweet potato ‘happalas’, jackfruits and even boiled jackfruit seeds were good enough to satisfy the craving to eat ‘something’ during the monsoon. Women of the house, being free from outdoor work would prepare varieties of eatables-some steamed, others fried. ‘Pathraddes’ has been a common preparation, other being ‘gatti’ prepared from ripened jackfruit mixed with rice paste. Besides the mango pickle, boiled mangoes and raw jackfruits seasoned with salt were sometimes usual preparations substituting vegetables for morning conji.

In those days ‘Channamanne’ was one of the exciting indoor games played on a wooden block with 12 holes, 6 on each side, using seeds of ‘pongara’ tree that looked like ‘rajma’. Girls usually played a game known as ‘pokku’ with five pebbles throwing up and balancing on the back of the palm and catching them again and picking up the pebbles of the competitors throwing each pebble up in the air and catching it along with those of the competitors gathered in one swing. With various means of entertainment presently available, these indoor monsoon games have not only disappeared but have gone out of the memory of many.  ‘Channamannes’ are hard to find even as relics of our cultural past.

Floods were the phenomena that always excited the children. With incessant rains, as the river being close by, the low lying paddy fields would invariably get flooded. Gathering in groups, children used to prepare paper boats and float them in the flood water to be carried away by the flow and current of the water. This year, within a span of 15 days there were three floods evoking the memories of the past. The entire area across the river looked like a mini sea with trees and higher level ground appearing like islands.

During the monsoon, fishing was a pastime that I cannot forget. My father would ask me to dig for earthworms as bait for the fish. I had to dig the ground, pull out earthworms and collect them in two coconut shells, one for me and the other for my father, covered with loose soil in order to prevent them from crawling out.

Sitting quietly in isolated spots on the bank of the river with the outstretched angling rod, the first bite of the fish and the first catch was something to be proud of. The catch was usually sufficient for the curry which i would savour with delight. Presently, there are neither angling rods nor isolated spots as wild growth has taken over vantage points on the bank of the river. Presently, few venture into the river with nets when the water level is low.

The memories of playing and rolling on the ground with carpet-like grass and the typical smell of the young grass are still fresh in my mind. However, these lush green grounds have been converted into coconut or cashew nut gardens. The remaining patches of the land have been invaded by thorny bushes and wild growth-some call it Communist weed, while others have named it Congress grass.

The purple wild berries (bensam) that we used to pick during the monsoon while coming back from school have practically disappeared. No longer can people stray from the road into wilderness or hillocks in search of these gifts of nature as the fences guard the tracts of land as private property.

The crickets and other insects still pierce the silence of the rain-soaked night with their shrill sound. The glow worms emit green light manifesting their presence in groups on trees and bushes. The caterpillars,  greenish large ones and reddish small ones still crawl in the wet courtyards and on damp house walls. Occasionally, the advance of the rains can be heard as the droplets fall on the leaves of the trees as the rain borne clouds pass above them. However, with the memories of the past monsoon can never be same again...

Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Mumbai
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Comment on this article

  • Ronald colaco, mangalore

    Mon, Jul 19 2010

    Hello Titus,

    I know you at Aloysius high school, you were close to jayaram Holla too. Where is he is now. Ok pl give me your contact email address pl. i am now settled in Mangalore

  • nabil, Udupi/Dubai

    Thu, Aug 13 2009

    Thanks once again Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Its really lovely pictures.

  • irene sequeira, Derebail/Kuwait

    Wed, Aug 12 2009

    Very nice article and beautiful pictures which reminded our childhood. Only people above age of 45-50 years will really enjoy and remember & understand easily of the facts. Dr. Eugene keep up the good job.


    Wed, Aug 12 2009

    Thanks a lot - DAIJIWORLD - for publishing this beautiful article by Dr. Eugene. This worderful narration accompanied by splendid photos, cannot but revive in us the dormant childhood experiences. Much obliged to Dr. Eugene for this superb article and beautiful photographs

  • kevin, Suratkal

    Tue, Aug 11 2009

    Dear Eugene your timing is apt topic , rather i can say , you touched my heart, made me nostalgic...its as if my childhood is refreshed...will treasure this article.. thanks a lot.

  • Titus Colaco, Hospet/Houston, Texas

    Tue, Aug 11 2009

    Dr. Eugene''s article and beautiful pictures brought nostalgic memories in me and I was sick to death to go back to my old living in the village I grew up in Hospet and give up all the modern luxuries that I have now. After the monsoon had set in and the fish got less excited after the uber run it was pretty tricky to catch these smart little fish in creaks, streams and water tributaries that flowed to the main river (gurpur hole).

    We kids used to cut a bypass to "Thod" (canal)and let the water fall down thru the "Kun" to the lower elevation fields,and keep it overnight.Next day morning you would get plenty of fish trapped inside like purvel, valoi, kalmure, korvo, kijana, kalmure, thikur, and of course kurli not to speak of "evale" (water snake). We used to catch small fish in shallow waters with a "makkeri". After school hours we used to hunt for berries and fruits like, binda, jambla, avale (water tastes sweeter after eating avale)champeran, nanelan, jamba, bensa, salei polan, palponos, godkan, chuurn (white berry on a thorny bush) and of course champera.

    Glow worms were a feast to our eyes at night and the owl''s howl at night from the top of the tallest tree - sathan ruk (devil''s tree) sent shivours in spines, and occasional, unusual vistor -the hungry tiger that used to roam around our proprty roaring at night whch meant even our parents got scared and locked everything and slept inside rather than on the veranda.

    On ati amase day when it rained cats and dogs(in august)we drank the juice of the dvil tree-sathana rose to cleanse our body of all evil deseases. Those were good old days. Life changes and moves on but that monsoon feeling lives on and can not be killed in those who truly experienced it during the 50''s and 60''s. Thanks Dr. Eugine for rekindling our homeland feelings and love for nature in our villages during monsoon time.

  • Mable, Madanthyar/Mumbai

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    Uncle your article is beautiful as always !!!! reminds me all the old memories..... Appreciate your job.

  • Lawrence D''Mello, Karkala/Sydney

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    Dr Eugene- again a wonderful article and photography! keep up the good work.

  • Ronald, barkur

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    With due regard to the good aspects of the article per se, this article is still intriguing. It would have been good if Dr. Eugene were to indicate the place where he has been experiencing this longest monsoon since the last 50 years. Is it Kollur, Subramanya or somewhere in the Karkala area ? There is a dearth of rain in most areas in Konkan and coastal Karnataka and of late the western half of India seems to be experiencing only scattered rains from mow/medium clouds. In fact this monsoon may soon be labelled a weak monsoon.

  • jp kudroli, mangalore

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    Dr.Eugene really nice collection of photographs reminded the olden days of life, but it become only memories to think the pictures in mind of those days. Now a days these natural beauties are vanishing by constructing big bldgs. everywhere. Hope someone will try to preserve these natural things......?

  • mohammed imthiyaz, dubai UAE

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    DEAR Dr.Eugene You have said all your Purane Yaaden in beautiful words what we have gone thru, how we have experienced in our good olden days...few pages are not enough to describe...Still I remember, after good mansoon, UBER MASLI was very famous,after that MASLI KATHRUNK at night in clear waters. As and when rain comes, we use to take our nets to catch fish and school holidays daily basis we use to go for fishing after Enel season catching Denkle,Valoi,Madonji and big Tikurs.

    If Kurli comes to the fishing rod(shelen) means that is the end of it. After Suggi, water was less, and we use to put dynamite(thote) and catching fish etc., in different ways. Your elaborative info, and photoes are beautiful and nice. You have reminded our old days...

    I wish you all the best and thanks for writing this beautiful info, where our future generation only can read, nothing to enjoy. that is so sad..


    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    I liked this article so much that I have no words to describe it. This article and the beautiful pictures have an impeccable power to take a person like me from Deccan plateau to attractive coastal strip of KONKAN, particularly during rainy season. After reading this article I have taken the decision to visit it at least once in my life time.

  • momin mohd ilyas, momin mohalla shirur

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    Beautiful pictures, very good article. It took us back to shirur kundapur talk.Thank you Dr. Eugene. Keep it up this Noble and global work. God Bless you.

  • Simon Francis Lasrado, Bangalore

    Sun, Aug 09 2009

    Thanks to Dr.Eugene D''Souza for this beautiful article on our own land Mangalore and surrounding areas.Nice photographs,thanks to for publishing this article and uploading the photos.I liked most, the birds sitting on the wire.

  • satishrao m, puttur/mumbai

    Sun, Aug 09 2009

    Those who have born and brought up in Canara Dts will never forget their childhood memories.Hats off to Dr.Eugene.As KUVEMPU said: Aa kaala ondiththu,divya vaagiththu.


    Sun, Aug 09 2009



    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    First of all my humble salute to you SIR. While reading the Article, my tears were rolling-down because I was completely involved in these facts in my good old days at Hemmady, Kundapur. Very nicely illustrated. God bless you.

  • Alice Haryson, Aikala / New Delhi

    Sun, Aug 09 2009

    Beutiful pictures, very good article. It took us back to Managalore. It was written as same as what we did during our school days (eating Bentsah etc.). Thank you Dr. Eugene. Keep up this Noble work. God Bless you.

  • Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney-Australia

    Sun, Aug 09 2009

    Congratulations on this excellent article and the accompanying beautiful photographs. Like you Dr. Eugine, I also grew up on my family farm in the early 1950`s and 1960`s and the contents brought back vivid memories of my childhood as well, specially the monsoon season and the fishing activities that followed. As you rightly say, those years, Rice used to be the main crop, three times a year (Enel, Suggi and Kolken), the same routines of extensive ploughing and preparation of the paddy fields with the help of buffalo and bullock driven yokes, sowing, reaping and hulling etc., which meant lot of physical efforts and hard work, with no mechanised farming facilities available then.

    Fending, nourishing and looking after the farming animals also involved lot of yakka (hard work). Modern farming has become much easier with the mechanical tillers etc. available. Also, rice cultivation has practically disappeared now including at my own family farms at Kajebail and Pathikarottu, because of economic non-viability, and these paddy fields have largely been converted into arecanut and coconut plantations which involves comparatively less work and nourishment. While on the topic of fishing, I would like to narrate here my own experience in brief.

    Specially during the summer season, no sooner I got back from my school in the evenings, I used to rush to dig the earthworms, gather them in the coconut shell as you rightly described, grab my fishing rod and dash to the nearby ponds, wells, lakes and streams etc. and get busy with my catches. I used to leave behind standing instructions (sort of request) to my Mother on the way out to prepare and keep the fish masala (Aalen) ready so that cooking became easier when I got back, and I do not remember having letting her down!. `Denkle` used to be my favourite catch. By the wasy, thanks Daiji, for bringing in this lovely article.

  • Bhotam Boliye, Moodubelle/Israel

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Dr.Eugene D''souza u have done a great job. Superb Photography. Mindblowing!

  • John L., Moodubelle

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Thanks Ijju Baab, the more you write the more taste. Your efforts are really freshen us the olden days activities. Keep up the good work and wish you all very best

  • Mohan H Naik, Mangaluru

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Dear Dr.Eugene, I am fan of your photography. As usual once again serene, pristine pics. Can you please provide details of camera you use?

  • nelson, valencia/kuwait

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Beautiful write-up on our beautiful village life. Lovely pics. indeed. Thanks Dr Eugene.

  • rudolf, mangalore/mumbai

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Eguen yu r doing very good job of our native. also thanks daiji

  • Habeeb Thumbe, Dubai

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Very nice pictures nice coverage beautiful sugi sinareys catching fish &birds cats also good thinks thank you daiji

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Thank you Daiji & Dr. Eugine for this wonderful article and reality photographs. Memories penned beautifully. Keep it up!


    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Very beautiful and educative article with eye-catching photos!Thank u very much Dr. Eugene & "DAIJI!!!" I have been preserving Dr. Eugene'' articles appearing in "Daiji" in a separate file. Keep it up...

  • Hariprasad.Rao, Kadri

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Both Article & Photos are superb & classy.Thanks Dr D''Souza & Daiji.

  • Marian L. Dsouza, Pernal/Kuwait

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Dear Dr. Eugene,Onset of monsoon and related activities in a countryside have been beautifully narrated in your article with breathtaking photographs.I enjoyed reading it which reminded me of my childhood days.My house also being near the Sooda river (the same flows past your home in Belle), your experiences during monsoon were nothing different from mine.

    One or two things I wish to add here: that after the first showers,children were sent to open stretch of land (gudde) to gather what we call in Tulu "kallalamb" and in konkani "pugudse" which were mixed with "moge" to make delicious curry. Also after the first showers one could see variety of mushrooms sprouting around the house, which were also used to make mouthwatering dishes.Some years ago,being in native place I went for fishing but came empty handed after almost 1 hour, throwing the fishing rod into the river.Anyways, thanks for reviving my childhood memories.

    All the best for future articles to Daijiworld.I enjoy reading.Thanks Daiji.

  • Arpith Kumar, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Very Nice Pictures, I like.

  • Jayson Dsouza, M''lore/Dxb

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Thanks my friend.Feels good bcoz since 5 years i am missing this season.

  • Rosy,, ChickMangalour.

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    pictures are Really Beautiful, Thanks Daijiworld.

  • Alphonse, Pangla/Abu Dhabi

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Dear Dr. Eugene, Thanks for the extensive report on the rainy days. Yes the modernization have taken everything from our reach. The simple games we used play, the simple food, such as Bendsan, Biknnam, Happoll, Chincharem, etc. Our current generation can only imagine while reading your story above.

    One part I think you missed was swimming in the ponds or shall we say just jumping in the ponds from tree tops, rocks every day after the school esp in the afternoon. anyways, the pictures, narration is beautiful and it really takes us back to the good old memories and it is indeed sad our children or grandchildren cannot enjoy these pleasures.

  • Denis Mathias, Shirva/Dubai

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    This article brought back to me my childhood memories. Though I am getting old, I am still stuck in my childhood, always reminicing my childhood games,rain, struggle to survive and improvising with whatever we had and have innocent fun. We used to work the whole year to gather food for the raing se

  • Rons Bantwal, Mumbai

    Fri, Aug 07 2009

    Dr. ji Nice Pictures & Fantastic Article. keep it up. Rons Bantwal

  • Mrs.Goveas, Sharjah/Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Wahoooooo!!!!!!!!!!no words to say fantastic thank u so much feeling mangalore being in gulf.thank you very much Dr.Eugene and daiji god bless forever

  • Sunil Karkera, San Jose, CA

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Thank you so much Daijiworld for publishing these beautiful pictures and bringing back memories of my childhood and teen years in Mulki! Our land is the abode of Gods! I love our simple people and their simple lives. It will be great if you will be able to allow downloads at higher resolutions of these pictures. I would love to make these images my computer wallpaper.

  • Yogish.B., Bahrain/M''lore

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Very Nice Pictures Thankyou Daiji.

  • Sudhir Prabhu, Punjalkatte / Sharjah

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    The vivid photos refreshed our memory taking us back to childhood. Thanks daiji.

  • Lancy Pinto Nayak, Kulshekar , Kuwait

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Dr. Eugene Sir, Really your " Monsoon Musings- In Search of Past Memories" beautiful article and superb ,class photos really mesmerize me. You remind me the childwood days.Good memories. PRAKRATI and PRAGATI ...ME and our generation enjoyed both. Thanks God. Wonderful write up.

  • vinod wilfred tauro, MADANTHYAR,DUBAI

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    DEAR Dr.Eugene You have said all your Purane Yaaden in beautiful words what we have gone thru, how we have experienced in our good olden days...few pages are not enough to describe...Still I remember, after good mansoon, UBER MASLI was very famous,after that MASLI KATHRUNK at night in clear waters. As and when rain comes, we use to take our nets to catch fish and school holidays daily basis we use to go for fishing after Enel season catching Denkle,Valoi,Madonji and big Tikurs. If Kurli comes to the fishing rod(shelen) means that is the end of it. After Suggi, water was less, and we use to put dynamite(thote) and catching fish etc., in different ways. Your elaborative info, and photoes are beautiful and nice. You have reminded our old days...I wish you all the best and thanks for writing this beautiful info, where our future generation only can read, nothing to enjoy. that is so sad..

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