Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

When Kalidasa speaks of Summer in Ritusamhara, he not only talks of the hot and dusty earth but also of the comfort of fountains and lily ponds, the moonlit nights spent either on cold slabs of marble or on terraces, the expectations of a good monsoon soon to follow and the affairs of the heart. He touches upon the manner in which lovers prepare for courtship in this harsh season. The use of fragrant flowers and sandal paste gets mentioned. The mention of soft sounds of the anklets worn by lissome damsels fires up one’s imagination.

The poet might as well have alluded to the kind of summer that Pondicherry offers. Howsoever oppressive the heat may feel during the first half of the day, late afternoon onwards, a cool breeze starts blowing in from the sea-side. The trees start swaying with gay abandon. The lily ponds can be forgotten. As the sun starts packing up its bags for a night’s well earned rest and repose, denizens rush to the promenade and enjoy a leisurely stroll thereat.

If the tender coconuts on offer provide succour to a hapless traveller by the day, small garlands made up of fragrant jasmine flowers provide a welcome relief during the evening hours. One’s olfactory senses kick in. The soul drives solace. The colour of either the skin or the hair, which wears such a garland and boasts of such a treat to one’s senses, no longer matters. The mere thought of a leisurely stroll which comes with the perks of an intoxicating aroma wafting in frequently lifts one’s soggy spirits no end.

Vendors peddling frozen desserts and ice creams of all sizes and shapes laugh all the way to their respective banks. Those dishing out fruit juices and smoothies also do brisk business. Owners of outdoor cafes miss their normal rush of customers, who prefer to pop up instead at restaurants which offer air-conditioned comfort. Hotels boasting of swimming pools are hard pressed to accommodate guests who would like to take the plunge. Boutiques which offer organically made perfumes often run out of supplies. Those selling cotton garments never complain of any slackness in their business.

Like the poet envisages, cool rays of moonlight provide great comfort late in the evenings. Just lying on one’s terrace and looking up at the moon makes one forget the harshness of the hot and humid days. The sheer expanse of twinkling stars leaves one invigorated. The skies are invariably clear and one can easily see distant constellations.

The reasons for Pondicherry being attractive during summers are not hard to find. The place is small in size and one does not waste much time commuting from one place to the next. Even though it offers metropolitan comforts, it is not a concrete jungle. Mother Nature still holds sway. Environment is clean. People are friendly and cool.

An early morning dip in the sea perks one up no end. So do boat rides, surf riding and scuba diving. The crowds are lesser, making it a good time to enjoy a peaceful vacation in this little town. With lesser number of people swarming at the beaches, one can enjoy one’s private space at most public places.

As someone who has lived in Pondicherry for over two decades, one finds that the summers were almost 2 degrees cooler in the past than what one finds these days. My favourite spot is a neem tree in the backyard of my house, where I can devour a Blandings story dished out by P G Wodehouse, with a kettle full of green tea by my side, duly accompanied by some cookies.

I am sure you have perfected your own methods of enjoying the summer in Pondicherry. Feel free to share your ideas with me!

(Images courtesy www)

(A version of this appears here: https://www.pondylive.com/simple-pleasures-of-a-pondicherry-summer-starry-nights-sea-breeze-sweat-and-surf)


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When Kalidasa speaks of Summer in Ritusamhara, he not only talks of the hot and dusty earth but also of the comfort of fountains and lily ponds, the moonlit nights spent either on cold slabs of marble or on terraces, the expectations of a good monsoon soon to follow and the affairs of the heart. He touches upon the manner in which lovers prepare for courtship in this harsh season. The use of fragrant flowers and sandal paste gets mentioned. The mention of soft sounds of the anklets worn by lissome damsels fires up our imagination.

How does Bollywood depict summer?  If the hero happens to be an agriculturist, and the script has a situation pertaining to drought, starvation or death, despondency prevails. Prayers get offered to the Rain God. Farmers even repose their faith in a saint-like man who, they believe, has miraculous powers to bring copious rains.

Romance is invariably in the air. Lovers continue to express their sentiments for the party of the other part. Young ladies pine for the company of their beloved, either alone or in the company of a close friend and confidante. Nights, moonlit or otherwise, offer a unique opportunity for a couple to enjoy few moments of privacy. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers cannot be smelt, though the joyful faces of the hero and heroine say it all.

Let us consider translation of some of the couplets of ‘Ritusamhara’ and some Bollywood songs which give us an inkling of the various ways in which our dream merchants depict the summer season.

“Oh, beloved, somewhere the moon is shoving the blackish columns of night aside, somewhere else the palace-chambers are highly exciting with water showering, sprinkling and splashing machines, and elsewhere the matrices of gems like moon-stones, coolant pearls etc are there, and even the pure sandalwood is liquefied with other coolant scents for smearing on bodies… thus, this season is getting an adoration from all the people…” [1-2]

Chori Chori (1956, Anant Thakur)

Dilli Ka Thug (1958, S D Narang)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Razia Sultan (1983, Kamal Amrohi)

“Throughout the night the moon beheld the lineaments of damsels comfortably sleeping on white terraced rooftops and he is ecstasised, for he is unpossessed of any such flawless face; for his own face is dented with rabbit or deer; he is becoming pale-faced with the dwindling of night and surely he must be going into hiding as he has no face to face the flawless sun.”[1-9]

Asli-Naqli (1962, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Pakeezah (1972, Kamal Amrohi)

Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

“The intolerable westerly wind of the summer is upheaving the clouds of dust; set by the blazing sun even the earth is ablaze; for the itinerants whose hearts are already put to blaze by the blaze called the detachment from their lady loves, now it has become impossible even to look at the blazing earth, to tread further…” [1-10]

Lekin (1991, Gulzar)

 Saathiya (2002, Shaad Ali)

“Certain women with their eagerness to meet their lovers are decorating necklaces on biceps, girdle chains at arms, eye mascara on forehead, and the vermilion mark of forehead – tilaka – on cheeks, and red lipstick as eye mascara etc in ecstatic confusion, which is inciting love in the hearts of itinerants.” [1-12]

Saudagar (1973, Sudhendu Roy)

Utsav (1984, Girish Karnad)

“Extremely withered as though by wildfire and utterly shriveled are the tender stalks of crops; as if windswept by harsh winds they are uprooted and completely wilted and reduced to straw; all over scorched are they in an overall manner as the water is vanished; if seen from highlands till the end of forest, this summer is foisting upon the onlookers a kind of disconcert, as the straw in the wind about the monsoon is unnoticeable.” [1-22]

Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Lagaan (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker)

“Oh, dear melodious singer, what if the summer is scorching… fragrant lotuses are overlaid on coolant waters, agreeably refreshing is the fragrance of Trumpet flowers, comfortable is the fresh water in bathing pools, pleasurable are those moonbeams, and with these pearly pendants and these jasmine garlands, let our simmering summer nights enjoyably slip by, while we abide on the tops of buildings right under the moonscape, savouring potations and amidst music and song…” [1-28]

Jaal (1952, Guru Dutt)

Leader (1964, Ram Mukherjee)

Kalidasa also speaks of forest fires and its devastating effect on the flora and fauna. He talks of lions, elephants and buffaloes who roam around with their parched throats. The searing heat makes them forget the natural animosity towards each other. Snakes find a shade beneath the plumage of peacocks, who are otherwise their sworn enemies. Even animals, when they face a mighty challenge of nature, they tend to forget a basic instinct – that of attacking their prey and devouring them.  Social dangers pale in significance when a natural calamity strikes.

“When wildfire scorched their bodies, elephants, buffalos and lions are coming together as friends discarding their dichotomic thinking of mutual hostilities; blighted thus by the fire, they are quickly exiting their habitual confines to enter the areas of rivers that have broad sandbanks…” [1-27]

Bollywood does not appear to have paid much attention to this aspect of Kalidasa’s work.

Admittedly, literature and movies are different genres in the realm of art and entertainment. The endeavour in this series of posts is not to compare Kalidasa’s inimitable works to Bollywood songs. It is merely to connect the dots, as it were, and check if some songs generate the kind of emotions the poet so very poignantly captures in his classical work.


Translations of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao (http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_1.htm)]

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood)


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