“I like Bombay. There is space. The sea and the cool breezes that blow in from the sea temper the heat. The harbour twinkles with many lights and the Back Bay, though it has lost its old sweep and graceful curve, is still attractive, and at night the long rows of lights make it singularly pleasing to the sight. I do not particularly fancy the new buildings that are growing up with such rapidity, and yet a distant view of these monotonous and rather dull structures is pleasing enough.

“I ilke Bombay for the warmth of friendship that I find there. Because of this a visit to Bombay is always something I look forward to. But Bombay has lost some of its flavour, and a film of sadness covers it, since a year ago a dear friend passed away (Jal Naoroji).

“Yet as much as I like Bombay, I weary of it after a few days and want to get away. Used to the cold and heat of the north, accommodating myself to the cold wind as well as the scorching loo, I find this intermediate weather, which changes little, an enervating experience. It seems so static, so moderate, that my changing moods do not fit in with it.

“I have been to Bombay so many times but I had never seen the coming of the monsoon here. I had been told and I had read that this coming of the first rains was an event in Bombay; they came with pomp and circumstance and overwhelmed the city with their lavish gift. It rains hard in most parts of India during the monsoon and we all know this. But it was different in Bombay, they said; there was a ferocity in this sudden first meeting of the rain-laden clouds with land. The dry land was lashed by the pouring torrents and converted into a temporary sea. Bombay was not static then; it became elemental, dynamic, changing.

“So I looked forward to the coming of the monsoon and I became a watcher of the skies, waiting to spot the heralds that preceded the attack. A few showers came. Oh, that was nothing, I was told; the monsoon has yet to come. Heavier rains followed, but I ignored them and waited for some extraordinary happening. While I waited I learnt from various people that the monsoon had definitely come and established itself. Where was the pomp and circumstance and the glory of the attack, and the combat between cloud and land, and the surging and lashing sea? Like a thief in the night the monsoon had come to Bombay, as well it might have done in Allahabad or elsewhere. Another illusion gone.”

– Written in Bombay on 15 June 1939 by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Published in the National Herald on 18 June 1939.

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