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Chasing the Monsoon

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  877 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
The fascinating and revealing story of Frater's journey through India in pursuit of the astonishing Indian summer monsoon. On 20th May the Indian summer monsoon will begin to envelop the country in two great wet arms, one coming from the east, the other from the west. They are united over central India around 10th July, a date that can be calculated within seven or eight ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published 2005 by Picador USA (first published April 30th 1991)
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Nandakishore Varma
Jun 09, 2015 Nandakishore Varma rated it it was amazing
This is, without doubt, the most fascinating travelogue I have ever read. Frater follows the monsoon from its genesis in Kerala up to Cherrapunji in Assam, the wettest place on earth: in the process, he gives fascinating insights about India, the monsoon, India + the monsoon (a strange entity!) and human nature in general. His writing is wryly humorous (without being sarcastic) and sympathetic at the same time.

Being from Kerala, I know and love the monsoon. So it was all the more enjoyable for m
Erika Hall
Jan 29, 2012 Erika Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Chasing the Monsoon A Modern Pilgrimage Through India by Alexander Frater

I have read this book several times, usually as a summer read at the beach, and each time I am transported to alluring and exotic places and times by Frater's colorful descriptions and lyrical prose. The binding of my original copy is broken, with the pages - stained with sweat, tanning oil, seawater, sand and muck - secured between the covers by means of a large rubber band. Yet the experience of reading the battered pages while sweltering in the heat and humidity of a summer's day along the F
An affectionate romp through India as refreshing as a monsoon burst after the heat of summer. Frater has all of V.S. Naipaul's ear for dialog and eye for telling little details, without the cynicism and bitterness. I love books that focus on one weird theme and then mix in people, places, history and science. This one was great fun and sometimes surprisingly moving.

Chasing The Monsoon is the third travelog-type book I've read for the HBC India Challenge, all based on trips made during the late
Vaisakh Krishnan
Jun 28, 2013 Vaisakh Krishnan rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
'Chasing the Monsoon' is a travel book by Alexander Frater where he describes his journey through India following the Indian monsoon. Travelling through many states and cities, he tells the stories of the people whose lives are touched upon by the monsoons. In a parallel track, he describes his childhood and how he inherited an interest towards nature and meteorology from his father and grand-father.

Frater starts in Trivandrum, Kerala where the monsoon arrives first and then moves upwards. Bein
Feb 09, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I loved this book!! We found it in a stack of books marked "free" on someone's lawn as we walked home from the market. We liked the look of the cover and because it is a Penguin book decided to give it a try. We. Couldn't. Put. It. Down.

Half memoir, half travel diary, it is wonderfully paced. How wonderful to get a completely different view of rain. At one point in Bombay, there is a lovely picture of a little girl leaping around in the pouring rain and happily calling to her father, "I'm cold!!
I enjoyed book, without pushing on to a 5* (a lot of reviewers loved it, which had given me high expectations), but it was easy to read, and passed on information in a comfortable way.
Not only writing about his travel in India, travelling with the monsoon, starting in Kerala, moving north and ending Cherrapunji (Meghalaya) the author also writes a lot about his early life in Vanuatu (the New Hebrides, as it was called at the time), with his father and grandfather, who were prominent figures ther
May 21, 2013 Nita rated it it was amazing
I am impressed by the amount of information that Alexander Frater tucks into this book, which reads like a gripping story. His information is from a variety of sources ranging from ancient historical works to facts shared by aircraft pilots who bravely fly through a monsoon. This book made me look back with nostalgia (I've been to all the places that Alex has been to in his pursuit of the monsoon) and forward with excitement (the monsoon should begin any time now!). I also learned that the ...more
Nov 18, 2010 Shahina rated it it was amazing
Frater has captured India's emotion filled response to this fantastic phenomenon. There are paragraphs that leave you feeling drenched and free. It is a refreshing travelogue with a lot of humour, facts, incidents and conversations spanning India and its people from Kanyakumari to Cherrapunji.
Yes, that’s what he has done; after welcoming the bursts at Trivandrum he has followed the south west arm of the Monsoon culminating this unique experience at Cherrapunji where he finally meets up with the
Tim Martin
Oct 18, 2016 Tim Martin rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, reviewed
_Chasing the Monsoon_ by Alexander Frater was an enjoyable travel book, one that I read in just a few days. The author's intention, as one might guess from the title, was to follow the progress of the summer monsoon through India, beginning in the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, Cape Comorin, and following its progress up the west coast through Trivandrum, Calicut, Goa, and Bombay, then jetting over to Delhi, and then to experience the eastern arm of the monsoon (there are two arms, one in ...more
Manu Prasad
Dec 28, 2014 Manu Prasad rated it liked it
Shelves: review
The monsoon - a phenomenon that has India in a tizzy every year. To me personally, they are a treasure trove of memories, associated with the various Junes that have been part of my life - childhood, college days, work - different places and different times. So I picked this book with quite some interest.
Frater's prologue tells us about his intent and motivation, but I'm afraid it tends to get a bit technical and I wouldn't be surprised if people stopped reading the book because of it! But the
Jan 12, 2008 Raghu rated it liked it
Alexander Frater's book is a tribute to the phenomenon of the monsoon and the romance associated with it in the popular culture of India. Frater is on a journey through India with the sole aim of following the monsoon from the tip of the south western coast of India all the way along the west coast up north to Delhi and then hopping on to Calcutta and then on to Shillong in North East Meghalaya and then ending the 'pilgrimage' in Cherrapunji, the wettest place on earth which gets nearly 500 ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Mithun rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, travelogue
“Chasing the Monsoon” was a captivating title for me, it was a long awaited read and it was worth the wait.
This book captures author’s journey following monsoon from Kerala to Cherrapunji which got sparked off by an unexpected conversation when meeting an Indian couple at London and Alexander Frater’s fascination towards a nostalgic wall hung portrait of Cherrapunji during his young age.
Book started off promisingly, topics like arrival of monsoon to the south western shore (Kovalam Beach) being
Akhila Vijayaraghavan
An excellent meteorological travelogue, if such a genre even exists. I loved how the author effortlessly marries the complex science with the intense poetry of the monsoon. He covers adeptly all the drama, romance, sorrows, relief, and blessing that the monsoon brings to the Indian subcontinent - in many ways the monsoon is the very heart of the country.

Frater's writing style flows just like the subject he has chosen. His story is more than a travelogue - it is a personal journey, following the
Subhash Chandra B
Jan 09, 2015 Subhash Chandra B rated it it was amazing
A pleasant read. Based on an interesting idea of following the significant annual phenomena of Indian weather, this book perfectly portrays the beauty and the bitterness surrounding the Indian monsoon. During the process of pursuing this exciting journey, apart from describing the nature's behavior the author also explored few interesting pre-indpendence events,the Indian bureaucracy in action, the perplexity of Indian life when viewed by an outsider. The author really excelled in capturing the ...more
Oct 05, 2014 Sonia rated it really liked it
As someone who loves the rain very much, this felt like the perfect book to read. The stories were not just rain-centric. A whole view of India in the late 80s as the country went through doubt and fear with its usual 'chalta hai' attitude was expressed so well by Frater. It is a lovely travelogue and a great project for those who love the rains. The best part, though, is that Frater gives his outsider view of the country without coming across as judgemental or pitying the country.
Aperna Deb
Jan 05, 2014 Aperna Deb rated it it was amazing
The book describes the journey of a Scottish reporter across India literally “chasing” the monsoon. Frater starts off the book beautifully describing his birth and early years in an Hebridean island, and how rain, thunder and lightning became an integral part of him which purportedly leads to taking on the mission many years later. Cherrapunji becomes his White Whale; memory of a portrait from his childhood becomes his muse. Those days (mid 80’s) Meghalaya was an area of extreme unrest, and ...more
Prathiba Swaminathan
Having lived in hot and humid Madras almost all my life, I look forward to the rains each year with great excitement. This book captured a lot of that excitement - a wonderful and romantic idea it is, to chase the SW monsoon from Kerala to Cherrapunji. I absolutely loved the beginning stages of this chase (in Kerala) - the anticipation of the people, the prayers for a good monsoon, the politicians' fears for a good monsoon, and the glimpse into the workings of the Meteorological department, all ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Su_ghosh rated it really liked it
‘Chasing the Monsoon’ is an engaging, humorously written travelogue by Journalist Alexander Frater. It documents the experiences the writer faced during his travel across India, following the monsoon right from its origin in South India to the North, and thereafter chasing it through the East and finally culminating in Cherrapunji.

The book is rich in descriptions; the writer comes across as passionate and knowledgeable in the passages where he describes the bursts and associated phenomena. It i
Trupti Dorge
Aug 11, 2011 Trupti Dorge rated it really liked it
I was a little apprehensive to read it because I have never read a travelogue before. But this is much more than just travel. It is also a part memoir. He is so good with words, he can actually paint a picture before your eyes.

In the book, he follows the monsoon from Trivandrum (the southernmost point in India, well almost) up to the north. I knew monsoon is important to India, important to agriculture and all, but this book gives you a different perspective altogether. He describes people, plac
Pranay Gupta
It's a romantic novel which makes you fall in love with the majesty of the rains. Alexander Frater, impelled by his tenuous connections with the Indian culture, starts off on a journey following the monsoon in India from the southern tip, and undergoing on a sinuous tour through the thick and thin of Indian culture, culminates his amazing journey in Cherrapunji. Or does the entangled Indian bureaucracy let him reach his destination?
The book is full of chance happenings, and meetings with people
Sep 20, 2015 ickman rated it really liked it
Shelves: travelogue
Chasing the Monsoon is sure to be a new experience for most of the readers.Its about a phenomena which haven't been heard by most.The narration by Frater is never dull for a moment.As he starts from London in quest of his desire he has determined to live broadcast the readers of his experience,such is his narrative skill.Especially his interactions with the meteorological department hooks up the readers with many interesting and important informations.

The introductory moments in Kerala is sure
Nov 13, 2014 Ravinder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-again
It starts of as one man's journey following the Indian monsoon along the western coast as well as a portion of the eastern arm...mainly Cherrapunji. Mr. Frater describes the monsoon and India of the late 80's very well, and does a great job with his descriptions of the people he comes across on his various trips.

Unfortunately, the year he chose to travel, the monsoon did not do very well. Perhaps if it had, we might have read more of Mr. Frater's travels across India.

Apart from a lot of Kerala,
Tariq Engineer
Jul 05, 2014 Tariq Engineer rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. The Monsoon is my favourite season so the book was preaching to the choir but Frater made me fall in love with it all over again. He writes with a refreshing honesty and the freshness of an outsider about the rains that are the lifeline of India. He carries a genuine interest in the weather on his journey and weaves in his own personal narrative beautifully as he chases the rains from Cochin to Cherrapunji.

If I had one minor quibble with the book, it would be the la
Aug 18, 2012 Mona rated it it was amazing
Shelves: burma, se-asia, india
I loved reading this account of trying to catch the monsoon as it traveled ahead of the author up the coast of India. Every year as I check the increasing temperatures in New Delhi where friends live, I think of this book and how the author pictures ladies standing out in the downpour wearing their best saris while greeting the much-awaited yearly relief. The ending takes an exciting turn. I would be reading the book again now as the monsoon has already arrived, but alas, it's loaned out to ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Shelley rated it really liked it
Looking at (parts of) India through the monsoon is a novel way of doing it and this book makes the journey very enjoyable. Frater's eye is thorough and the descriptive quality, conversation relating and dry humour are very entertaining. I will never look at torrential rainfall the same way again, or take it for granted. The one drawback for me was the distracting insertion of sidebars from his and his ancestors lives in the South Pacific; I found it made the otherwise well paced book drag a ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Riah rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended, india
I might have given this book three stars if I hadn't read it while literally situated at the tail end of the monsoon in India. Given the ambience, it gets four!

I found myself skipping over some of the meteorological descriptions, but Frater gets the anecdotes and cultural narration spot on. Overall, it's definitely one of the most unusual Indian travelogues I've ever read and I'd recommend it to anyone visiting India at this time of year looking for a hyper-contextual read.
May 29, 2011 Vasha7 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasant though rather inconsequential account of a journey through India, prompted by health troubles and family memories (and the freelancer's eternal search for something to write about). Frater affects a rather naive tone, which I think is a pose. But his experiences, such as they are, are not badly served by his way of suggesting that he's just setting things down as they passed his eyes, or thoughts as they popped into his head.
Jan 27, 2011 Amit rated it it was ok
I read it only to know about the monsoon in India, and wasn't expecting anything more. And I got just that. Frater accounts the travel along with, and sometimes following the rain clouds on road, rail and by flight, rather well. He also makes references to other, but older works on the monsoon that I think will be useful to those who want to know more about it. But otherwise, not a particularly enjoyable read.
Jan 18, 2014 Hrishikesh rated it it was ok
There are good travelogues, there are good foreigners' accounts of India and there are good Indian accounts of India. This books false in none of these categories. It's not bad; but that's the best that can be said. Definitely not worth the time, which is a pity, because given the subject matter it could have been a spectacular book. A quintessentially shallow foreign account of India. Lacking in depth and substance. Not recommended.
Jenny L
Jun 24, 2014 Jenny L rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
A very interesting read. Not one I would choose usually, but I read this for work, wanting to understand more about the impact the SW Monsoon has on life in India each year from June until September. Alexander Frater's descriptions of the places he visited and people he met instantly transport you to that moment in time. I didn't really learn more about the Monsoon, already knowing a fair amount, but his story reinforces the importance of this annual event.
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Alexander Frater has contributed to various UK publications--Miles Kington called him "the funniest man who wrote for Punch since the war"--and been a contracted New Yorker writer; as chief travel correspondent of the London Observer he won an unprecedented number of British Press Travel Awards. Two of his books, Beyond the Blue Horizon and Chasing the Monsoon, have been been into major BBC ...more
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“As a romantic ideal, turbulent, impoverished India could still weave its spell, and the key to it all - the colours, the moods, the scents, the subtle, mysterious light, the poetry, the heightened expectations, the kind of beauty that made your heart miss a beat - well, that remained the monsoon.” 2 likes
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