- Temperate countries have occasional or irregular rainfall.
- Hot or tropical countries have regular seasonal rain.
- The importance of the monsoon in an eastern land.
- The suffering caused by a failure in the monsoon.
In the temperate countries of Europe, rain may fall during any week of the year. In England, it is uncommon for two consecutive weeks to pass without a fall of rain. The temperature is never very hot and is moist more or less all the year through.
In tropical countries like India and Pakistan, things are different. As the sun approaches the overhead position in April and May, the heat becomes intense. Temperature by day reaches 120 in some localities, and the land is baked and burning. In the science laboratory, we learned that heated air rises up. This is what happens when the air over the plains of India and Pakistan becomes heated. It rises, and as there cannot be a vacuum, cool air from the surrounding sea flows in to take its place. This cool air is laden with water vapor from the sea, and this becomes condensed and falls in the form of rain on the land. There are two important monsoon rains falls in India and Pakistan that which comes from the south-west, falling first on Ceylon, while the other monsoon rain falls on the east coast, blowing in from the Bay of Bengal about the end of October or early November.
The cultivator knows that the rain will come. Hen the cool breezes start to blow, he gets his plow and his bullocks ready. After the first fall, he is to be seen busy of work, breaking up the ground and preparing the soil for his seed. He prays for regular rain, not too heavy. If the rain stops for a time after the first falls, the young crops will wither. If the rain is too heavy, it may cause floods and wash away soil and seeds together. If by any chance there is a complete failure of the rains, then that means the dreaded word-Famine. The Pakistani peasant has little in reserve, and may live from hand-to-mouth. In olden times, failure of the monsoon meant a very high death toll from hunger. But in these days of the railway and good roads, it is easier to bring relief quickly, since it is not likely that the monsoon will fail all over the country. Failure is more likely to be local. That is bad enough, and we can well understand how the Pakistani cultivator prays for a timely and a regular visit from the life-giving monsoon rains.