Everyone in Mumbai has a monsoon story to tell. My own involves being sandwiched between a friend and a real-estate broker on a bubble-gum pink scooter, as the rain dissolved the world around us into a watery blur. It was the last week of June and my first week in Mumbai. I was still only a hosteller and hoping to upgrade my residency status to that of a tenant. It was the quest for more permanent lodgings that had led me to the unenviable position of being the soaking wet filling in a human vadapav zipping through the streets of Parel. It would also be my only happy memory of rains in this city, for a long time to come.

Monsoons in Mumbai have always possessed a mythical quality, with its annually recurring stories of flooded streets and crippled public infrastructure making news headlines across the country. On July 26, 2005, these legends acquired a darker edge as torrential rainfall brought the city to its knees and claimed hundreds of lives. When I moved to Mumbai five years later, the pall cast by the 2005 floods still lingered. Every instance of a few hours of incessant rainfall would stoke the fear lurking in the hearts of weathered Mumbaikars. Their eyes would widen as they recalled that fateful day in July and urged us – their newly immigrated colleagues – to leave the office at midday and return to the safety of our homes.

We were, of course, more than happy to comply; to swap the dreary company of legal briefs for the warm comfort of blankets and beverages. I could scarcely believe that the rainy-day holiday of my school-going years would continue to be viable currency at the start of my professional life, but the illicit thrill afforded by this discovery was soon replaced by ennui.

I had come to Mumbai prepared to face the ferocity of its monsoons but not its relentlessness. In my first few weeks in the city, there was no sign of the sun and a wet, grey blanket lay across the sky. It was precisely the kind of dismal weather that you do not wish to endure when suffering from bouts of homesickness. The shortest of walks guaranteed squelchy socks. A potent combination of sea breeze and road spray rendered umbrellas irrelevant – you were just as likely to be assailed horizontally as vertically. The pervasive damp – from my clothes to the walls of my room – was a physical manifestation of the moroseness that enveloped me. And to top it all off, before my first month in the city was over, I contracted malaria.

As I writhed in bed in the grip of high fever, I cursed the existence of mosquitoes, of rain and of this city itself. Over time, I would learn to tolerate the first and adjust to the last, but to the rains I gave no quarter. That fateful initiation had left me embittered, with little time for the romantic notions of Mumbai monsoons peddled by popular culture and social media.

My experiences in later years did little to change my mind. Every year, like clockwork, there were days when high-tide alerts and heavy rains would combine to disrupt routine and threaten to bring life to a standstill. I would also come to discover that swapping puddled footpaths for a car seat offered scant protection against squelchy socks.

Driving through swamped localities often meant that water would stream into our car and gleefully slosh about our ankles. We would then coax and cajole the engine to keep it running, muttering prayers till we made it to the safe shores of a higher street. (On one occasion, I spotted an abandoned BMW sitting forlornly at the foot of Elphinstone Bridge. Evidently, the occupants’ prayers had gone unanswered.)

After nearly a decade of animosity, it was running that eventually softened my attitude to the rains. Running in the city – particularly, one so bereft of open spaces as Mumbai – is a tedious, and even dangerous, pursuit. For most of the year, city runners grimly contend with the heat, the crowds and the pollution but during the monsoons, their perseverance is rewarded.

The streets wear a freshly laundered look and the air is washed free of fumes. Seaside promenades lie empty, except for the runners and the romantics – the former exulting in motion and the latter relishing their coupled stillness. The raindrops driving into your face bring the world into sharper focus. Endorphins transform puddles from nuisances into essential stepping zones as you splash water with childish abandon, squelchy socks notwithstanding. And the thunderclaps ringing in your ears and powering your runs make you realise it is futile to hold grudges against seasons.

This will be my thirteenth monsoon in Mumbai and I suppose it will be much like the dozen before it. The municipal corporation has claimed to have “completed almost all of its pre-monsoon preparation works” but tradition dictates that there will, inevitably, be days of water-logged streets and civic disarray. There will be weeks of damp clothes and dank weather. There will be hours wasted in traffic jams and perhaps even (god forbid!) the flooding of cars. As the rainclouds indifferently roll in, they will be similar to their predecessors; yet I would have changed. There is far too much bad blood in our history for me to profess love for the Mumbai monsoons but I have learnt, at least, to try and let go of the hate.

Rohan Banerjee is a lawyer in Mumbai.