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This isn’t the latest fanciful fashion in rain hats. Instead, it’s an Indian food vendor’s practical solution to protecting his basket of fish, carried atop his head, with a sheet of plastic as monsoon rains thrash through the city of Mumbai.

In the Pacific Northwest, we drown in rain this time of year. In India the monsoon saturates the region from June to September, bringing desperately needed nourishment to heat-seared, parched earth. Wild storms roll across the country, restoring the land to greenness, much to farmers’ relief. City dwellers get a long-awaited break from the dry season’s 100-degree-plus heat.

Some parts of northeast India can be deluged with 20 feet of rain in a monsoon season, one of the world’s most intense annual weather events.

It’s a giver of life, but the monsoon can bring death. Torrential rains trigger flooding and mudslides, sometimes sweeping away little villages. In cities such as Mumbai, streets can turn into fetid waterways. But daily life, and a fish vendor, carry on.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at