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Chasing the Monsoon

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  576 ratings  ·  62 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 d ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published 2005 by Picador USA (first published April 30th 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,193)
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Nandakishore Varma
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
...more
Erika Hall

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
...more
Elizabeth
Feb 09, 2012 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
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!!
...more
Vaisakh Krishnan
'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
...more
Nita
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 bottl ...more
Shahina
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
...more
Manu Prasad
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
...more
Raghu
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 inch ...more
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
...more
Sonia
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.
Hana
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
...more
Aperna Deb
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 Cher ...more
Tariq Engineer
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
...more
Maxim
This book surprisingly failed to engage me. I know what they say about the cover and the title, but I still got fooled. Without analyzing too much, I think one reason could be because I shifted from my kindle to the paperback edition I owned, with really small font size to boot, and I had to read most of this one lying down because I had hurt my back. That may have affected my concentration in no small measure. Or maybe I just wasn't interested.

The passages to do with description of the weather
...more
Jenny L
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.
Violet Crush
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
...more
Su_ghosh
‘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
...more
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
...more
Ravinder
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,
...more
Venkateshwaran
I was searching for a lot of books under travel memoir genre for some months and I got really piqued with this book and as soon as i bought it, thats it..I got involved with the book, the gloomy weather near my place, mingled with the monsoons and kindled my spirits also to chase monsoon at some point in my life. Gr8 writing by Frater. You can experience what he has experienced - The chill, the completeness, the chase and finally the monsoons. For who those think monsoons are life to many people ...more
Hrishikesh
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.
Mona
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 some ...more
Shelley
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 litt ...more
Riah
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.
Vasha7
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.
Amit
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.
vaishnavi
Excellent language , perfect mixture of facts and anecdotes and refreshing just like the monsoon. A book I will definitely return to in the future. Words do not suffice to express my joy and gratitude that such a wonderful book was written about the monsoon. And I should say that it was an immensely enjoyable read for me during this monsoon of 2013. Just the right time to have chanced upon it.
Srekmr
I bought this during the Monsoon....to linger with the Nostalgic rainy days..


Monsoon is over... and still I am chasing it..... coz this book certainly levitate me to reminiscence of ma childhood....or youth...


Words are like that.. it sometimes drags us to a numbness that can't be expressed in writing, but need to be felt.. and this book really is seductive to fall one into it...!
Georgie Mathew
A riveting journey through the vagaries of the Indian monsoon, the Indian bureaucracy and its people. Though much of the book is littered with climactic Greek and latin phrases (about cumulonimbus, wind shear, etc) , one does not really need to understand the minutiae to enjoy the book. Definitely inspired me to travel in his footsteps, maybe one place at a time, someday..
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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 televi ...more
More about Alexander Frater...
Tales from the Torrid Zone: Travels in the Deep Tropics Beyond the Blue Horizon: On the Track of Imperial Airways. Alexander Frater The Balloon Factory: The Story of the Men Who Built Britain's First Flying Machines. Alexander Frater Where the Dawn Comes Up Like Thunder Stopping-Train Britain: A Railway Odyssey

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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.” 0 likes
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