“His travelogue is doubtlessly the last word on literary monsoon manias. Scheduling his travels to suit the imprecision of wayward nimbus clouds, the writer succeeds with finesse in making a religion of rain,” said publisher and critic Rukun Advani in his review of Alexander Frater’s Chasing the Monsoon.
Frater, who worked as a travel writer for the Observer in London followed India's summer monsoon through Cochin, Goa, Bombay, and Calcutta, before ending in Cherrapunji, “the wettest place on Earth.” He found weather forecasters frantically calculating the moment of the arrival of the rains and learned that the tardiness or outright absence of a monsoon – more likely now due to India's shrinking forestland and increased pollution – can potentially topple governments, inspire revolutions, and substantially raise the level of violent crime as citizens broil in the summer heat (Kirkus Reviews).
When questioned about the inspiration and influences that led him to take such a journey, his answer pointed towards his own father who was a weather science enthusiast. “He used to exchange letters with a friend from Cherrapunji. He used to talk about going there,” he explained. They even had a landscape picture set in Cherrapunji on their wall.
The book gained its credibility and depth from the author’s interactions with the local villagers whose knowledge of the monsoon was instinctive and sometimes more reliable than the meteorological departments in big cities. And this journey was not the first and last for Frater. He did it two more times, finally making a documentary on monsoon in India for the BBC.
Published in 1991.