Season of Surprise

‘Tis the season to be merry?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But ‘tis certainly looking like the season to be surprised.

Once again.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has set the ball rolling by predicting that large parts of the country will reel under temperatures higher than normal and that the seasonal average temperature is set to be higher than normal by over 1 degree Celsius.

We are surprised.

After years of rapid development, with millions of fossil fuel burning cars added to the roads, agricultural and forest lands being consumed to build wider and wider roads in an effort to get those cars moving and so that the common man feels like he is living anywhere but in India, building shiny new energy-guzzling highrises, putting many water bodies out of the misery of their daily struggle for survival, transporting food and water from greater and greater distances, we are surprised.

We are surprised that this is happening again. Because it had happened just last year in the summer, which was one of the hottest recorded in recent memory. And the previous year in the summer. And the previous year again.

Despite doing nothing to prevent a recurrence, it is recurring. Isn’t it surprising?

It is a surprise that summer is coming back at all. With its many surprises.

We will be surprised to see peak load requirement going up in the summer as more and more people switch on their air-conditioners.

We will be surprised to experience frequent failures in the grid-supplied power as the grid buckles under peak-load demand.

We will be surprised when residential societies as well as commercial developments switch on their diesel-powered generation sets and produce their own power to offset the grid failures. We will also be surprised that noxious fumes emitted by these generators will add to the pollution woes of the city.

We will be surprised when, despite uncontrolled drawing of ground water for industrial and other uses, the water table plunges further.

We were expecting November-like bracing conditions to prevail through most of May and June, but looks like IMD had other ideas. If putting out realistic and reasonable facts and figures is all it can do, does a rapidly developing nation like ours really need an IMD? But that is for our political leaders to answer. Let us enjoy the beauty of life while we can. With its ability to throw up surprises every day and every minute.

Summer will be followed by monsoon. Yet another surprise. Seriously, did anyone know about this?

Come monsoon and we will be surprised to realise that water can flow from higher to lower level of ground. And that constructing in its path without adequate assessment of capacity will lead to impeding the flow of water and cause water-logging.

We will be surprised to know that open ground absorbs rainwater much faster than land that has been constructed over. As a corollary, we will be surprised to realise that slower absorption of rainwater leads to a slower recharging of groundwater resources.

We will be surprised to know that that poor quality material used in building of roads leads to the surface being washed away leaving gaping holes for traffic to navigate. We will be equally surprised to understand that gaping holes in the road surface and water-logging on roads leaves only narrow usable channels for traffic on otherwise wide roads, which leads to massive traffic jams with people leaving office at 6 PM reaching home 15 km away at 5 AM the next morning.

We will be surprised to realise that rainfall does not have a mechanism through which it can stay away from areas prone to water-logging and poor drainage.

We will be surprised to know that random dumping of waste and stagnant water is a toxic combination that leads to breeding of mosquitoes, among other vectors, that leads to the spread of malaria, chikangunya, dengue and other diseases. As a corollary, we are even more surprised to learn that preventing collection of stagnant water and keeping our surroundings clean can prevent vector-borne diseases to a great degree.

It is a surprise that these are happening again. Because they had happened just last year during the monsoon. And the previous year in the monsoon. And the previous year again. Despite doing nothing to prevent a recurrence, they are recurring. Isn’t it surprising?

The beauty of life. Knowledge and learning at every step. The faster one is able to forget past learnings, the more one will keep learning. As long as one is open-minded. And not repeatedly asking “why is this not fixed?” or “who is responsible for this mess?”

And if that is not enough of surprises, winter, which just about got over, will come back. Did you know that?

We will be surprised that the cold winter air, with all noxious fumes and other pollutants emitted into it, will hang low and not get dissipated as easily as in the non-winter months, when it blows the pollutants away to unsuspecting people in other geographies.

We will be surprised that respiratory issues will abound in the winter months and that the masks people wear are not a natural adaptation of the human species to environmental stimuli.

We will be surprised that the days are short and nights long.

We will be surprised that it gets cold.

It is a surprise that these are happening again. Because they had happened just last year in the winter. And the previous year in the winter. And the previous year again. Despite doing nothing to prevent a recurrence, they are recurring. Isn’t it surprising?

And then, surprise of surprises, maybe even a shock, summer will be back. Who could have predicted that?


31 thoughts on “Season of Surprise

  1. My Dear Sir,
    The real surprise is that almost every country in the world is labouring under the same set of surprises. Except for America. Over there Mr Trump knows that there is no such thing as climate change. Won’t he be surprised when every other country in the world pushes down his border wall to get to the land of milk and honey and gentle climate.

    • Isn’t it strange that the climate changes around the entire world four times a year with great regularity? One volcanic eruption can do more to change the climate than a millions of cars, millions of air conditioners, and billions of cell phones charging overnight. If you want to effect real climate change go without those amenities and quit cutting down the rain forests of the world. In America we have wised up, and refuse to be brainwashed into believing that man-made climate change is a reality, and God-made climate change is not.
      Let all those who wish to enter do so, not by climbing the fence, but by lawfully walking through the gate, and they will be free to settle into such gentle climate areas as Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont.

      • In my view, natural cycles are a given. Certain natural acts happen in a flash, like a volcanic eruption, and others happen at much slower than glacial speed, like creation of a mountain range. One can only hope that there is a certain internal balance inherent in natural cycles. Manmade events do not seem to have inherent balances built in. While nature also has the power to regenerate from manmade events, the question always will be: how far can we go before that capacity runs out. Unfortunately, if we go too far, none of us or our descendants will survive to answer that question. Hence, in my view, caution would be advised. Of course, this a layman’s perspective. I am sure there are many more data and fact-based opinions on either side.

  2. Truly, I am surprised by all these surprising events that keep besotting us with surprising and predictable regularity. Surprising indeed.

    You done it again, Ankur. Surprised us 🙂

  3. Well said Susan. I read a report recently on a study done by a financial services company, according to which respondents consistently held out a far more rosy future for themselves than what eventually played out. Since you asked a rhetorical question I had to respond 🙂

    • Very kind of you Grumpa Joe! Thank you for taking my essay to your readers as well. And for your insightful comment. Yes, it is eventually upto us, as individuals, as residents of a city, as citizens of a country, or any other affiliation we are comfortable with, to make what we will of our world.

    • BYOG (bring your own water) will soon replace the BYOG (bring your own grog) gold standard for youngster parties. If it was India, by now a political party would have claimed that water shortage is for the good of the people. It will cure habitual drinkers of their habit as no water will be available.

  4. Ha ha! One of the main objectives of putting an intelligent (supposedly) species into existence would be to see how fast they can self-destruct. Isaac Asimov came close in one of his stories which talked about the intelligent race self-destructing every few thousand years, and then starting all over again and becoming developed, again to end in self-destruction.

  5. One of our illustrious senators, Marco Rubio, usually skirts the issue by saying “I am not a scientist”. Well senator just read some science journals. Then he’ll quip “The weather changes all the time.” ,Well Senator it certainly does. But the climate is not supposed to change and if it does something’s askew.

    • Yeah, Rubio is a known name, even outside the US. Unfortunately, climate change is a slow process and impact so widely distributed that it is well nigh impossible to form an “interest group” of people claiming they are under threat from it, more than others, and make a noise. Profiteering, unfortunately, at the expense of climate concerns, will be limited to a few organisations, who have enough interest in making that money to make a high decibel campaign deriding climate change as a hoax. We all, or our descendants, will bear the cost of a few people making more money.

  6. Signs of drought have already started showing in my hometown. Although, IMD also predicted that the rainfall will be normal this year. But well, I have no idea what is going to happen in the future when there is virtually no importance being given to climate change.

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