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Monsoon Season Brings Relief And Danger To India


The rains were late in parts of India this year, but the monsoon has finally arrived. It's bringing welcome relief from the heat but also some dangers. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai where they got more than a foot of rain in 24 hours.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: You get maybe a three-second warning when the sky goes dark, the palm trees rustle and the monsoon arrives like an angry mob pounding on your roof and windows. Here in Mumbai, people celebrated. They sign emails with happy monsoon. In Bollywood movies, it's the season of romance...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, singing in foreign language).

FRAYER: ...When couples fall in love huddled under umbrellas or get drenched with wild abandon. The monsoon season, lasting about four months, keeps India alive. It fills reservoirs, irrigates crops, but it also wreaks havoc. And as usual, the poor suffer the most. The storm surge has demolished parts of a slum on Mumbai's Arabian Sea coast.

JAYWANTI MANGELA: (Foreign language spoken).

FRAYER: Fisherwoman Jaywanti Mangela's neighbors lost their homes. Her house is flooded with dirty water and trash. The monsoon for her means fear. Just east of here, dozens of people have been killed in landslides. Train tracks are underwater, flights delayed. A woman gave birth on a Mumbai train platform.

MANJEET YADAV: (Foreign language spoken).

FRAYER: But life goes on for tea seller Manjeet Yadav. He's soaked to the bone hauling a giant kettle of hot tea on a seafront promenade.

YADAV: (Foreign language spoken).

FRAYER: "I don't particularly like the rain, but what can I do," he says. He had to wade through knee-deep water in the streets this week. "We all have to make a living," he says. Lauren Frayer, NPR News, under an umbrella in Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.