Petrichor

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When I was on Skype with my mum and dad the other day, I heard a clap of thunder at their end. Yes, it’s the monsoon season in Mumbai.

As a child, I always looked forward to the magic of the Mumbai monsoon. The show unfolded at the start of June when storm clouds would slowly but surely gather across the sky. South-west monsoon winds would make their presence felt. The electricity in the air was palpable. And just as the new academic year got off to a start around 13th June, so too would the rains.

This spectacular sound and light show always started with a bang. With every lightning bolt that Thor hurled across the sky, dogs would duck for cover. Children, cowering behind their mummies, would watch the aerial acrobatics in awe.

And then, big, fat raindrops like bullets would puncture the parched earth. And kids would run onto the streets, squealing in delight, drenched to the bone, faces lifted up to the heavens. All around you the world was renewed and refreshed. The patina of the past year’s dust and drudgery was washed away. Showers of blessing, we used to call them.

And soon after the first deluge, your senses were awakened by the most magical scent. The indescribable, unmistakable smell that the earth exudes after the first rains.

Did you know there is an actual word to describe this smell?
That word is “petrichor”.
It is the distinctive scent of the earth when it rains after a long time.
The word looks and sounds a bit strange, but if you dissect it, you’ll get its meaning.
The Greek word for stone is “petros” (think of St. Peter, the rock).
Combine this with “ichor” which refers to the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology, and you get petrichor.

So tell me, what’s your favourite season and why? Did you splash about in the rain as a child? Have you ever got soaking wet in a thunderstorm? What memories do you have of the rain?

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2 responses to “Petrichor

  1. Great write-up and useful information too! 🙂 Brought back happy childhood memories of monsoons in Mumbai…raincoats, puddles, paper boats….good times!

    Like

  2. Pingback: When it Rains, it Pours | liaisonwithalison·

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