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Chasing the Monsoon

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,271 ratings  ·  131 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 1991)
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Abhijit Dutta Its about monsoon arrival in India, how it travels North.

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Nandakishore Varma
Dec 08, 2011 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
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Chasing the Monsoon’ is a wonderful travelogue! It was published in the United States in 1990, but I think the author Alexander Frater journeyed to India in 1987.

Frater was on a mission - to follow the onset of the Monsoon up the western coast of India, from Trivandrum to Bombay, then crossing to Delhi and Calcutta, to finish in Cherrapunji. I realize these cities all have undergone spelling changes, but I will use the names Frater uses in his travels.

The trip to India was one undergone becaus
...more
Erika Hall
Jan 29, 2012 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 th
...more
Elizabeth
Dec 14, 2011 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!!
...more
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
Daren
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
...more
Vaisakh Krishnan
Jun 11, 2013 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
...more
Pradnya
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing journey this book has taken me on.. filling me up with a longing to visit the places that Frater travelled through while on his pursuit.. flooding my mind with countless memories of the monsoons that I grew up with. Frater's writing has an honest ring to it, and makes no effort to overly glamorize or condemn - a common pitfall when it comes to travelogues centred around India.

Most certainly a book that I will be re-visiting during many a coming monsoons! Highly recommended!
Tim Martin
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, india, travel
_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
Nita
May 12, 2013 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 bottl ...more
Shahina
Nov 18, 2010 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
...more
Shrinidhi
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well researched book rich with facts and anecdotes from Frater's wonder incducing journey of following the monsoon across India. Starting at Kovalam all along the coast and where the westerly monsoon meets its counterpart in Cherrapunji.

It does get slow when the travelogue delves into the finer details, but it stays smooth otherwise. Great read.
Manu
Jan 05, 2013 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
...more
Raghu
Jan 11, 2008 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 inch ...more
Mithun
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travelogue, travel
“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
...more
Anjana
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
As the Monsoon danced outside my window, I turned the last page to the most brilliant travelogue I have read so far. Capturing India's tryst, the joys as well as turmoils, with this annual guest, Frater also lays bare his struggles with the Indian bureaucracy, and thus carves a narrative that is raw to the core.

I have also realized that I enjoy non-fictional writing, that is appropriately coated with wit and word craft.
Aperna Deb
Jan 05, 2014 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 Cher ...more
Grady
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is magnificent. Alexander Frater, suffering from an odd medical condition in his upper spine - a sharp jolt could paralyze him permanently - travels with the South Asian monsoon from the southern tip of India up to the wettest place in the world, Cherrapunji, in the East Khasi Hills of northeastern India, which gets upwards of 38 feet of rain each year. This is also a journey deep into Frater's childhood - going to Cherrapunji was an unrealized dream of Frater's missionary doctor father - a ...more
Akhila
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Subhash Chandra B
Oct 17, 2014 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
Sonia
Sep 24, 2014 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.
Georgie Mathew
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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..
Ram Kaushik
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating travelogue but slightly inconsistent narrative. Mr. Frater sprinkles his journey accompanying the monsoon with fascinating anecdotes in Kerala, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Cherrapunji. His sudden references to his childhood in the Pacific Islands, although interesting, seemed somewhat irrelevant. Still, an interesting book for sure.
Sallie.Neill
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written but a little too long. Too much scientific information about the weather.
Annie
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great travelogue and commentary on life in the 80''s in India. Author goes into a lot of trouble following the monsoon from Trivandrum (my home town) all the way to Cherapunji.
Gautam Sasidharan
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
One may question, whether Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater is the right book to read when the sun beats down across India in March/April. To read about monsoon in summer months can be truly refreshing as a glass of iced water refreshing a body exhausted by heat and can also serve as a source of hope of the pyrotechnics, come June.

In Chasing the Monsoon, Frater packs history, geography, culture and society, all into one. The source of inspiration of this most weird journey of following the
...more
Girl from Mumbai
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
For 3 months in a year India experiences a unique phenomenon called the Monsoons. It is a part of our very existence, it defines us, it makes us resilient and even a little bit hopeful about new beginnings.
The term मूसलाधार बारिश (torrential rains) must have been coined keeping the monsoons in mind. Relieving us from the terrible humidity the clouds batter us with a downpour like no other. It feels like mother nature is lashing out at us in full fury, punishing us for the extremities we commit
...more
Gracelinvidya
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the book- Chasing the Monsoon, author Alexander Frater, who worked as a travel writer for the Observer in London follows the progress of India’s summer monsoon by visiting places like Trivandrum, Cochin, Goa, Bombay, Calcutta, and Cherrapunji (previously, the wettest place on Earth) on or around the days when monsoon first hits these places.

Frater was inspired by his father (who had a painting which captured a rain scene from Cherrapunji) about the monsoons. Later, a chance encounter with an
...more
Arindam Ghose
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
An unique tale of love and travel and legacy. The writer doesn't write about a person or a civilization or a place but about a natural phenomena what billions of people from the subcontinent live with . The writer has a eye for details and captures the color and flavor of the unique Indian culture with the skill of a cameraman . Not only does he manage to add flesh and blood and life to the Indian monsoon he always manages to make the readers want to experience it . Unlike most western writer he ...more
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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

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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.” 6 likes
“One Said, 'My grandfather once planted a Langra tree but, before he could eat the fruit, he had to marry it to another tree. A tamarind. Custom decreed it.'
'I know about that custom,' said a colleague. 'The jasmine is considered a suitable bride for a mango.”
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