I love KL rains.
I love how it doesn’t just barge in like a rude guest, and instead like a genteel lady, announces itself before it starts pouring. Come afternoon, like clockwork, the bright blue of the morning sky makes way for a dark gray as clouds heavy with rain start stealing in, and the sun gently excuses itself to retire prematurely for the day.
And then, just when the air is all charged with anticipation and the breeze gets as cool as it can, the magic starts. Some days, if I am lucky, I can see a whole curtain of rain right in front of me, heaving and sighing as it flutters in the wind. Traffic slows down to a crawl and ultimately succumbs to a standstill on the road right below me, and red and yellow lights glitter amidst all the blurry gray. I see no people rushing to the LRT station, just a motley bunch of umbrella tops huddled together here and there. I see the far away mountains playing peekaboo now and then, when the curtain of rain parts in front of me. When I stand in my balcony, I feel the occasional spray on my cheeks and I know I could stand there for hours on end, looking at a world that has come to a halt; where time has gracefully slowed down.
I know, I know I would be scoffed at. By the hundreds of people huddled under umbrellas unwilling to brave the heavy torrents, thunder and lightning to walk to and from their cars, or to and from the LRT stations, AND the ones stuck inside their cars in massive traffic jams all over because of the rood being flooded. But from where I am, sitting inside my warm home, safe and snug on the living room couch, I am pretty sure all I feel is love for the rains. More so because when it stops, everything, and I do mean everything, looks oh so brilliant! The twinkling lights in faraway Genting Highlands sparkle extra bright after the rain, and the red and yellow lights from the cars which get reflected on the wet road are a spectacle on their own. Everything is fresh and new. And this happens everyday! I love the predictability of KL rains, and I love how it makes me feel strangely hopeful. The morning might be all hot and dusty and sunny, but come afternoon, everything kinda just… settles down. Don’t ask me why, but it makes me feel like everyday I get a new chance. To wash away all that is sad and angry and not nice, just to find peace and strength beneath all of it.
But what I love best is during weekends, when the husband is at home and we both wake up from our afternoon siesta to be greeted by a heavy shower. We stand in the balcony together, not saying a word, but just watching the rain fall all around us. And when lightning blinds me with one flash, and a massive thunder claps right in the next moment to scare the bejesus out of me (yes, even now), R is right there next to me like my knight in shining armor to hold me. That he doesn’t laugh at me is proof that I married the right guy, I tell you. What proves it further is that when we walk together in the rain, and my sandals go all squish and squash on me, and specks of slush stick to the back of my legs, all he does is wonder why his sandals don’t squelch as much as mine. And just to top it off, he doesn’t stop me from walking into puddles, specially when I do it intentionally.
Now I have never been a chai person, but there’s something about the rains that makes me romanticize the idea of a cup of hot tea and something savory to snack on. That, and the fact that I am married to a particularly typical Assamese who loves his milk tea flavored with cardamom or ginger. Add the rains, and what we have is an unspoken agreement to have tea with pakode each time it rains. But having never been a fan of besan, I prefer making dali boro like Mamma used to make back home. Which brings me to the super simple recipe that is a major hit in this family this weird KL monsoon in October.
You will need: 1 cup Masoor dal (red lentils), 1 clove of garlic (2-3 if it is small, mine was huge), 1 medium sized onion chopped, 2 green chilies, 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), salt to taste and oil for shallow frying.
How to make it: Soak the dal in water for about half an hour. Grind the dal with a little water and the garlic. Mix the dal paste with the chopped onions and chilies and cilantro and salt. Heat oil in a pan. Once heated, scoop teaspoonfuls of the dal mixture into the oil, making sure they don’t stick together. Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to make five-seven at the same time. Once you see them slightly swollen, and turning a nice golden brown, take them out of the pan with a slotted ladle. Serve hot with any chutney of your choice and a cup of hot cardamom tea.
Ah, the rains. Gotta love them.