Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let it rain ...........येरे येरे पावसा.......

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

So said Rabindranath Tagore.

So far as the meteorological services in India are concerned, that would have been just fine. Clouds could come floating and go, occasionally drip some rain here and there, there would be a poem written about sunsets, and the meteorological types would be back to wrongly predicting light showers over Madhya Maharashtra,Telangana and other exciting places.

I watch the news daily at night. Between being thrilled to bits about temperatures in Patna hitting 2 degrees below normal (Yipee), and a western low pressure disturbance threatening to come in, (along with many other dangerous things) from Pakistan , the fun part begins when the western disturbance, simply drops its disturbing style and simply remains western the next day. Thankfully, the North, South, East and West do not change .

Last evening , while hurrying through the bhaji market at dusk, there was a different feel to the air. The covers put up by the bhajiwalaas to protect their veggies from excessive sun and possible rain, were actually flapping around. There was a lot of dust suspended in the air. Everyone was hurrying around. The last few days had been incredibly hot and humid. Post sunset, things got a bit cooler, something unusual for Mumbai. Opening my balcony after entering an empty house, I suddenly saw some lightening. First just a lighting up of the southern sky near the horizon. Almost as a reflex action, I took in a deep breath, seeking the smell of wet mud, which was not yet there. Streaks of lightening then started appearing more frequently. There was a massive wind that simply rolled in through the balcony, pushing the doors in, and scattering all kinds of papers, greeting cards and other knick knack which had been sedately sitting around all these months. A windy rain followed , with a great intensity, did its stuff for about five to ten minutes, and then , breezed off towards the ocean, leaving behind the wonderful smell of wet mud after the first rains .

Wonderful as this sounds, it would have been still more wonderful, if our esteemed meteorological pundits had predicted its possibility. A lot of mango "chhundaas ", slowly getting solar-cooked in the heavy heat on terraces, would have been saved . Housewives at the fag end of their summer stocking of papads and other storage items, would have taken different decisions had they known. What a waste !

Why is it that the meteorological services in India, explain the event after it happens? Why doesn't some one appear on TV and say "folks, if you are planning on open-air celebratory gettogethers, there is a definite chance of some rain in the evening. So take care of things".

I know countries where they predict not only rain, but how much will fall. If it is snow, they tell you which areas to avoid, due to dangers of heavy snow. A whole generation of automobile-enabled weekend-obsessed citizens, plan their outings accordingly.

What technology do they use that we cannot get? Is it that we have the technology but are not trained to interpret the findings ? If we do not have the technology, why do we not acquire it ? Is there a priority list for stuff to be bought by the government ? In all the amount of people that go abroad to learn about Hindi usage in Sweden, thief catching procedures in New York, solar energy usage by hotels in Australia, how rain is tackled in London, and laundering of a different kind in Luxembourg or Switzerland, can we not find funds for a few smart types who can learn the techniques and come back and train others here ? If not humanware and software, then do we lack the hardware ? In our great journey from things nano to things mega, are we forgetting day-today life ?

Why are most of our weather reports dedicated to telling you what the temperatures were yesterday?

Lest these questions fall on deaf ears, think of the just finished IPL. Think of the sudden rains, and the unready manpower that struggled to run with the pitch covers. Think of matches that ended differently due to the machinations of Duckworth and Lewis. Think of the points table which would have said 2-0 instead of 1-1.

We have so much know-how in so many fields; it is high time we developed the know-when.

In the meanwhile, some high authority of the meteorological type, giving avid news people , what is considered a authoritative scholarly news bite, says : "This is just a precursor to the monsoons, which should be setting in by next week. These rains came because of the excessive heat situation in the last few days/weeks/etc."

Thank you indeed.

I don't know about you, but my household help, Kusum, who is by definition , illiterate, told me exactly the same thing .

So did my daughter, who controlled herself from dashing to the terrace and getting wet, saying, this rain brought down the main dirt from the air above Mumbai ; the next rain, in a week, would be the one to get wet in and enjoy.

Why do we persist with the meteorologists ?

Maybe they are avid followers of the American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (
1807-1882), who is supposed to have made , what he thought, was an important statement, when he said, "The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” ........(I resist the temptation to ask "Aur kuch?).....

And to hell with predictions of the useful kind.


  1. Talking about Amateur effective meteorologists …I remember people coming to my aaji to ask her when to put – kurdya papdya on the gacchi. And she used to look at a few pothis in her kapaat to predict accurately.

    Wish she had transferred some knowledge over …I could have opted for that alternative occupation.

    Also the Bhoolanath song …especially the aaichi zhoop part where one steals laadoo. The ladoos remain same but excitement is minimized ….there is no need to steal them anymore…..Aai actually tells me where she has kept them ….how ridiculous!!!

    Just wondering … if the Met Department every thought of recruiting “Bhoolanath”!!!! …It would have been such a match of skillsets

  2. Took me back so many years.... Click on the "play" button on the following page, to hear the Bholanath song agin !

    Enjoy the rain and the song...