The monsoon this year has been behaving strangely. First, its arrival was delayed by a couple of weeks, and I cannot remember the last time that happened. Second, short spells of rain alternate with bright sunshine. One might look outside to see a bright day and set out without an umbrella, only for the sky to turn leaden within ten minutes and send forth a ten-minute fusillade that would scatter everyone on the streets. The other strange feature of this year’s monsoon is the exceptionally strong accompanying wind. One is awakened at night by the sound of the howling wind slamming doors and windows and swishing the curtains. The metal roofs many have installed over their concrete terraces to keep out the rain and sun make an unholy racket, flapping so wildly that it sounds as though they’d be torn from their moorings any minute.
One day while taking the boys to school, the auto was passing through an avenue when the rain and winds began suddenly. A large branch fell loudly on the roof of the auto, startling all of us. I reminded my sons of the newspaper reports we read of trees falling on cars and autos. I said we’d been lucky. Indeed, the next day, I read in the newspaper that at almost the same time that the branch fell on our auto, in Kakkanad, a big tree had fallen on an auto; the occupants fortunately escaped without injuries. It must have been on that day that this tree (see above photo) by the Marine Drive walkway was uprooted; literally up-rooted.
And this brings me to a talk delivered here recently by the novelist Amitav Ghosh, who lives in New York. He was in Cochin for the launch of his latest novel, and had some interesting things to say about the increasing frequency of cyclones in the Arabian Sea. Here is what Amitav Ghosh said:
In fact, I’d wondered earlier why Cochin (and, in fact, the entire west coast), despite being very close to the open sea, seems to be immune to cyclones, in stark contrast to the east coast, which is devastated annually by cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal. Here is one explanation of why the east coast faces more storms:
I hope the weather doesn’t change to the extent that cyclones become more frequent on the west coast; I don’t remember a cyclone hitting Cochin, and living fairly close to the sea as I do, I’m in no hurry to meet a cyclone. The monsoon this year has been delivering more wind than water, and I hope that’s not an ominous portent for the future.
Update: Even as I was writing the above lines, a tree fell on a school bus in Kothamangalam, killing five children. A terrible tragedy.
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