Saturday, August 28, 2004


Musings on the rain!

It is raining as I write this... pearly drops are falling with the rhythm of sibilant whispers...

My friend and colleague tells me it has been raining continuously for the past one and a half month. The road I travel to work is full of holes of varying sizes and shapes. Some are deep some are shallow and all are full of water. The bus lurches through it as we hold on for dear life.

There is no respite. The umbrella is a flimsy toy for the gusts of strong wind. They blow water through the think jacket I wear to keep away the wetness.

The weather bureau, where my sister used to work and now has retired, had predicted deficient monsoon but now I think we are having more than enough. Who needs all this water here in Bombay while elsewhere farmers are committing the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives because of the lack of it.

Well, it is feeling chilly with the air-conditioner on and I have downed my 'n'th cup of tea.

Has anyone heard of El Nino and El Nina. Well, one should. When my dad died there was such a deluge and the water almost cut us off from civilization in good old green paradise of Kerala. We had to keep his body in a mortury for almost a week to be able to give him a decent funeral.

El Nino my online dictionary tell me is:

A warming of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America that occurs every 4 to 12 years when upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water does not occur. It causes die-offs of plankton and fish and affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.

Al Nina is something similar. Weather like the unpredictable lover is becoming too much moody these days. The world is growing warmer by a fraction of a degree centigrade every year. What is fraction of a degree? It all adds up into several degrees over the years. So be prepared to sweat it in summer.

That means you and I would be sweating like a pig in summer and warding off a deluge in monsoon and near freezing in winter. Yes. That's most likely to happen.

Who is at fault. All of us. The world has less and less tree cover these days. Acres are cut down every year to make way for farming and habitation. We are losing 86,000 hectares per day: an area equivalent to New York City.

Forests are needed to condense clouds and bring down rain uniformly. In the absence of this it will rain cats and dogs and rats in some parts and nothing in other parts. Witness what is happening in India today. Bombay and the north-east are having abundant rain and floods while places like Vidharba are still dry and rainless.

We have filled our airconditioners, refrigerators and aerosol cans with a chemical known as chlorofluoro carbons. These chemicals rise in the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer, the precious protective shield against cosmic radiation. So the earth is partially naked now... I was typing fully naked... but that will happen not long in the future if the trend continues.

But all of us are not bothered... we are happy with our jobs making more and more money forgetting that the process we have set off is irreversible! Our grand children may be better than us living in fully airconditioned bubbles and working in fully climate controlled offices.

But what of their children and their children? And what of the poor?

I am sorry to seem so negative and pessimistic but that's the way things are... I feel we have crossed the limits somewhere and need to correct it and set it right.... But who will bell this cat? Who will undo the knot we have tied around our own ankles?

Wonder what will happen when we are gone and our grand children go through many more El Ninos and hard summers! Would they applaud us or curse us?

Remains to be seen....
"'So much is being written in India now, every mail brings me manuscripts to look at by Indian authors. It has suddenly become a craze. It's not much to do with writing, it's to do with celebrity culture. Because a few like Rushdie and Arundhati Roy have become celebrities, it's encouraged others to try writing.'"

Now I find what Anita Desai has to say very objectionable!


Published authors, at least in India, never lend a helping had to struggling authors. A crab mentality prevails. Now that I made it why should I help someone else?

Agreed. You have made it against the odds, had to struggle, was rejected, etc. etc. But helping someone come up, saying a good word about something you really like. No way, we are Indian.

One billion people and no Olympic gold? Only one measly silver? Why?

Because our social system and structure is such. Along comes a talented person who wants to do something and vicious gossip is circulated, insults are hurled, character assasination is ready to be circulated, everything is done to make the person feel small.

"Who does he/she think he/she is?"

"Big writer eh?" Smirk! Smirk!

So now that Ms Desai has made it, Ms Desai can thumb her nose at those struggling to make it. Same with the writers who have had "god"fathers abroad to promote them.

Is there any doubt why most talented youngersters (writers, painters, sportsmen, actors) get disillusioned and give up? We are not a society based on merit, we are a society based on cronyism. If you don't like to be a crony then go jump into the well. Ask the sportsmen who has no talent to suck up to the officials. How can you ask if you won't even find them?

Now what makes Anita Desai crib in front of a foreign audience? Perhaps she thinks she has arrived and is now on level with the "goras" so the brownies who struggle in India can suck their thumbs and descend the depths of desperation.

Anita Desai says we Indian writers want to be celebrities... who doesn't? Doesn't she want to be a bigger celebrity than Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie? Doesn't she want the TV cameras, the interview, the book launches, the paid book tour, etc.

She does, but she wants it so seriously that she doesn't want the 10 million or so people in the sub-continent who can afford a computer to catch up with her. So she would rather subvert their prospects and criticise them in public than say a good word.

Is it any surprise that a nation of one billion cannot produce a gold medal at the Olympics. All we can do is a silver when unknown countries in Africa (imagine Africa with its malnourished millions!) can produce more than one medal. All our medal prospects gave up long ago!