The eye of the Tiger

I know, a very corny heading, but I just couldn’t resist it. You wouldn’t too, if you’ve looked into one. Ah, those eyes! You look into one, make eye contact, maybe just for a few seconds, and you end up having those eyes gaze at you for the rest of your life! Ok, at least for two weeks so far. I can maybe claim the lifetime part after a decade or two.

So, we ended up at Bandipur, just me and S, as A ended up with some viral the night before we were to leave. Our policy of booking for two and paying for the third at location, turned out to be a life saver yet again! The first piece of news was a shock. “You’ll have to shell out Rs. 1000 if you’re carrying a DSLR.” Per day? “No sir, per safari!”
The one thing I always hate on vacations is hidden costs. You pay for something, turn up and are then told about something newly added making you cough up some more money. And then some more. Not a nice experience at all!

We reached there on the 3rd of Nov. The rule had been brought in on the 1st! And they were still tweaking it. So while it was Rs. 1000 on the 3rd, it became a still steep Rs. 500 from the next day. With 18% GST added to the whole thing! Of course, I couldn’t blame JLR as this was a diktat from the government. Ecotourism is an elite cow, that can be milked forever, once you hook enough people into it.

Anyway, the shock over, we went on for the first safari, with a Canadian at front and a couple on the back, along with the spotter and the driver.

Compared to last year, the copious rains had ensured some excellent green cover, and also much fuller waterholes all over the forest. While we went through with a heavy feeling in the pits of our stomachs last year, this one was a lot more cheerful. The birding was good with a few shrikes, hoopoes and parakeets.
Brown shrike

Continue reading “The eye of the Tiger”

Advertisements

Birding – Mallathahalli Lake

News is that I invested in a longer telephoto lens. A used Sigma 150-600mm which I got a pretty good deal for. I decided to take it out for a spin around the Mallathahalli lake. The lake is pretty quiet with very few visitors. This translates to very skittish and shy birds. The lens is heavy, at close to 1.7 Kgs. Combined with the body, it translates to a 2Kg load!

I started off with a butterfly chilling on a leaf. This is a common tiger.

IMG_4138 Continue reading “Birding – Mallathahalli Lake”

Coming home

“Guess who is home?” jumped a message on whatsapp from a friend who lives in Boston, having moved there a year back from Mumbai after her wedding.
The question confused me. Although I could discern that it meant that she was back in Mumbai, I couldn’t resist replying “But you were already home!”

Home. That place where you look out from. Where you go away from, come back to. That point of reference for everything. And when you lose that reference where do you stand?

You see, in our family we don’t know whether we’re coming or going – it’s all my grandmother’s fault. But, of course, the fault wasn’t hers at all: it lay in language. Every language assumes a centrality, a fixed and settled point to go away from and come back to, and what my grandmother was looking for was a word for a journey which was not a coming or a going at all; a journey that was a search for precisely that fixed point which permits the proper use of verbs of movement.

-Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines

I have always been intrigued by the idea of home, about the ability to shift it away to another country. To call that home, while still visiting the place you grew up in. Noting how things have changed, (how much traffic!!) convincing yourself that it is no longer what you called home and returning to the comfort of home.

I could never understand how a lot of my NRI friends could do that, could go away, develop roots in a different place and never return. It feels like you are going away from home and never returning. But I haven’t been able to get past the idea that there is no one fixed home. That it is not a concept that can’t be established somewhere else. You look for greener pastures, find something, you up and go, and put down your roots there. Like trees that could walk, or more recently like transplanted trees.

ಇರುವುದೆಲ್ಲವ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಇರದುದರೆಡೆಗೆ ತುಡಿವುದೇ ಜೀವನ?

– Gopalakrishna Adiga

How does one reconcile the longing for greener pastures with the one for home? Are they conflicting instincts? Or things that occur in patterns, one after the other?

For long I felt that I was searching. I went out, tried two different continents, sometimes getting carried along by what seemed like winds outside my control. I walked the leafy roads, with sparrows chirping, of Melbourne. Experienced the cold and grey of Seattle with its distinct seasons. I eventually upped and came home. For a few years, I got asked the question “Why did you move back to India?” mainly from NRIs who wanted to fall one side or the other for good. I could only answer it as “I didn’t see a reason to stay on.” I never reconciled to calling anything else home. I was away, and one day I came back home.

And once back in Bangalore, I searched desperately for a home, to find a place where I could put down roots, and just be. 7 years on, I know I am where I want to be. The roots I put down take the form of a garden where I can grow things, in the form of bookshelves I fill up, in the form of the cat that can’t be transplanted anywhere – I stay where you’ll stay. Years of repeating patterns – the Honge tree, and its falling and growing leaves. The warblers, the shovelers, the starlings, the wagtails that turn up during winter. The Kacheris of summer. The monsoon rains, and the spiders and snails that come with them. Every year they repeat their patterns, their arrivals. Yes, in smaller numbers each year. But they’re there and I am here waiting for them every year. I am home. For now.

Festivals and Long weekends

I am no fan of festivals, they always stress me out. There are things that need to do be done, like everyone does, and you sense judgement in the eyes of others in how well you’re doing them.

You start with washing your vehicles, and then learn that there is a specific set of ways to do that. For starters, “I don’t let anyone touch my car!” – Your car is a part of you. A scratch from another vehicle will set your blood boiling. Someone honking at you for driving slowly while talking on the phone will be taken personally. You don’t just own a car. Your car also owns you.

There are thus specific ways to wash a car. You don’t use water directly – you shampoo, you wax, you vacuum it. It’s a labour of love, not undertaken in a hurry or without a detailed plan. You plan and block time for it.

It’s been a few years since I gave up worrying about scratches. It’s also been a few years since I tried washing the car on my own. It’s easier to pay someone to do it, or just let the rains wash it. Clean the insides and be happy about it. The trouble used to start with step 1: Take a clean cloth. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t find a clean cloth. That needs maintenance and planning. Like cleaning up last time’s clean cloth before next use.

You use the cloth you can get your hands on, and wash it with water. After a while, it dries up and looks like you wiped the whole thing with a…. dirty cloth. It even shows the directions in which you moved your cloth. You can take an old newspaper and wipe the windshields to avoid this effect. It seemed like a perfectly good idea, and worked too. Then I got frowned at by folks for suggesting that aloud. I miss the good old days of the US and automated car washes. And powerful vacuum cleaners to pull everything out.

This year things got more complicated. The road surface was pulled out and there’s only cement powder and small stones piled up awaiting tar. This has meant that no matter how much you clean, in a while you’ll have a fine layer of cement on pretty much everything! And on top of that, it rained. And the BWSSB pipe below sprung a leak, and they fixed it, and closed it with wet mud all over, and then the leak sprung again from it. It’s been a perfect storm.

I finally decided to use a hose pipe. But how do you make the tap end of a hose pipe stick and not leak? You use a screwing device. Except that that can make a cut in the rubber of the holding part. After making my father sit and hold the pipe to the tap tightly, the pipe sprung a leak because of the pressure! Bring in another pipe. After much watery misadventures the job was finally accomplished. Easier to hose it down than rub it down. A lot of people seem to solve this by getting their new cars delivered for the festival. After all, it rains “easy EMIs, unlimited offers and assured gifts” during this time.

And this turned out to be the least of my worries. Festivals are also the time folks call each other and wish. And with some relatives it becomes a case of “Look what we did!”. One aunt going as far as “We had a grand function! I danced, my daughter-in-law danced! There was so much joy!” And my poor mother who believes every bullshit said to her kept commenting that their family is so happy, why can’t we be that way. It all ends up with looks directed at me. “If only you had… ” Well, if only everybody came with their bull shit meters properly calibrated.

And then of course, these are festive days, you are supposed to make sweets at home, even if people at home are diabetic. Just go give it to some neighbour or relative, no? Never mind if they also are diabetic, and you know that perfectly well. “Oh we just made it for Neivedhyam, but I am diabetic and can’t eat it, you know that.” The idea is this: If you’re diabetic, you don’t eat it, but you try to get those who are not into your camp. The more the merrier! Eventually every home’s sweets and payasams end up with the domestic helps. Definitely not betting on them eating everything.

And then comes the part about “long weekends”. “What are you doing for the long weekend?” “Ermm… nothing?”. Look of judgement. And from someone who isn’t going anywhere either. Apparently, you need to be hep and happening and do stuff for long weekends. And doing stuff is about trying to make bookings in places that are already heavily booked at 150% the usual price. Then sit in silk board-like traffic as it crawls on Mysore Road, or sit 45 mins in each of the never ending toll booths hoping and praying no asshole cuts the queue in front of you. Then you reach the place you booked to see it full with stressed out parents and their restless bawling kids who can’t for the life of them understand why they’ve been cut off from their iPads and TVs. It’s also the fag end of Monsoons, so you might have enough rain to keep you indoors – cue restless kids and on-the-edge parents all around you. Drive back, sit through toll booths, fight with forest guards for not letting your entitled arse through a forest at odd times. Go back to work and gloat about your ‘vacation’. Thanks, but no thanks. I have vacation days that I can use for this while most of the world is working.

This is also one of the reasons tourism is considered a cancer – people traveling en masse during specific days and descending on places that can’t support so much capacity.

I have never understood the craze for people to have to travel and be somewhere on long weekends. Yes, that’s the only time you get school holidays and all that. But honestly, an 8yo kid can afford to miss a day or two of school during normal days, no? The only good that it has done is that it has made an otherwise gridlocked city a paradise to be in. This is the time you get around, visit friends, relatives or shop.

But yes, the only time I really feel like getting out is during the next festival – Deepavali. That’s a whole new level of madness by itself! Oh dear God, only weeks left for that. Sigh.

 

 

A ‘good’ year, so far

I remember last June, how cloudy and rainy it was. Junes in Bangalore are not meant to be like that. You have cooler days after the heat of April and May, but it doesn’t get too cloudy. A spell or two of rain maybe, but the predominant factor is wind – June is meant to be windy in Bangalore. Last year, 2016, it wasn’t. Neither was July. They were cold and wet. We wore sweaters through some of the worst days of our lives, as we all struggled to recuperate from a severe bout of viral infection, not having anyone else to lean on, as everyone in the house was down. The papers recorded record rains – twice the average. KRS got to a 100 ft by the end of July. It was all hunky dory.

And then came August, supposedly one of the wettest months in Bangalore. It barely rained an inch and we looked at dry day after dry day. The monsoons had completely given up. September, the wettest month came and went. And the Kaveri riots came with it. Lack of rains had reduced the Kaveri to a trickle. By the end of the year, after the NE monsoons also failed, we were left counting every drop of the Kaveri, and figured we just had enough to last us till June 2017, only as drinking water. Continue reading “A ‘good’ year, so far”

Cheetahs and Vultures (Maasai Mara stories – 1)

The concept of an all day safari was mouth watering. We were supposed to leave at 7:30 AM and return by 4:30 PM. That’s 9 hours of wildlife. Technically, that’s 8 hours of wildlife, as the road from the lodge to the gate is pretty bad and takes a good half hour one way with no sighting except cattle and sheep! The lodge had packed our lunch boxes which were to be eaten in the forest, and we had an early breakfast.

The drive goes on till the Mara river where you can see the famous crossing by Wildebeest. And if you are lucky, you might chance upon a crocodile or two attempting a hunt on crossing herds. The river is so far away that it takes a few hours to drive up there, and then the same amount back. Along the way you take a few digressions to catch more wildlife. It’s a lot of fun.

We started off with an elephant herd, a lot of Wildebeest herds running, or hanging around.
Elephant herd, calf shows up
Wildebeest traffic Continue reading “Cheetahs and Vultures (Maasai Mara stories – 1)”

A vacation that actually happened

A vacation happened, to Kenya. And am sitting here writing about it. After a lot of scuppered vacation plans – thrice to the same destination, costing me Rs. 50000, once to a local one costing Rs. 6600, and one halfway aborted trip which didn’t cost anything in money – this came as a major relief.

When it comes to vacations I worry about a lot of things – all that documentation that needs to be carried to either get a visa or arrange a visa (if you’re going to a Schengen country it becomes even worse – you need to submit your documents just a week before the trip and expect the passport to arrive in time!), all the bookings that need to be done before the trip – flights, hotels,  about things being OK at home – no one falling sick at the last minute, about your not falling sick – which was a sore point this trip, international issues – Trump and North Korea threatening each other wasn’t helping.

In this case the visa was easier, we opted to go the eVisa way and save carrying some cash. We had to get Yellow Fever shots and Polio drops, and this was done 3 weeks before the trip. Never mind that absolutely no one was interested in seeing them when getting back to India. The accommodation and vehicle were arranged stress free, but with a lot of emailing. Some money needed to be wired and that took some time and stress, but it was done. More people should use PayPal!

I started the week before the trip with some mild stomach irritation. A visit to a nearby elderly doctor and it was supposedly an infection, and I was on antibiotics for a couple of days. Once I realised that they were not working, I dropped by my Mother’s more expensive doctor. He raised an eyebrow at the antibiotics, said it was a case of dyspepsia, or just bad indigestion, asked me to watch what I eat, and prescribed some meds. This came less than 2 days before I was to be off.

How does one manage indigestion in a foreign country, that too when one is a vegetarian? Surprisingly, things became ok pretty fast. The food turned out to be mild, and well done. The hotel for the night we arrived turned out to be owned by an Indian with an Indian restaurant at the top. Thankfully, no hunting for different food before you crash. In the lodges in the forests,  the African vegetarian versions included some Maize cakes, called Ugali, with some “Kenyan Greens” which turned out to be our own Dantu soppu steamed with some onions and salt. Tasty as hell, and mild on the stomach too. Along with some carrots or “potatoes with herbs”. The main course was usually some Indian curry with some roti/chapathi and rice. Given that the guests were predominantly European/American, the food was done mildly and again, easy on the stomach.

The surprising thing, in fact a logical thing, was how they were getting their vegetables. Being hours away from a major city poses logistical problems. All these camps/lodges got around that by setting out a plot of land to grow their own vegetables. With the Masai nearby, cattle is aplenty and takes care of their dairy and meat needs.

So it was that after 5 days of a lot of fun, and the most amazing wildlife experience ever, we got back, and once back, the placated stomach started acting up all over again. Be thankful for small mercies I guess.

Will post stories and pictures next post.

A road for your thota?

Last Saturday as I returned from my round of tennis, I saw 2 JCBs standing at the end of the road, ominously. Post-lunch (theirs) they started. They began ripping out the road which hadn’t been repaired in 8 years and had gone to a state of no-return. We stood guard to ensure that they never got to our water pipes that were passing 6 inches under the road cutting across it. Thankfully, their work was only at a one-inch level.

They got past the neighbour’s, two houses down, and spared the (illegal) fenced garden outside the house. We were slightly relieved. A few minutes later, the contractor came over and barked orders to pull down everything from storm water drain to storm water drain.

I rushed into our thota (garden), moved all the pots to the top of the covered storm water drain. The bird feeder was brought in. No birds had yet discovered it. The curry leaf tree(Murraya koenigii) was slowly dismembered of its leaves. I started breaking it down, taking more and more branches with their leaves inside. A visitor was given one branch. The workers stopped me as I passed them. “Inga konjam kudein?” (give me some, no?) they asked. I passed along largish twigs, enough to last a week for an average household. Some were distributed to the neighbours. The neighbour’s thota was reached. It was ripped out mercilessly by the JCB.

They came to ours soon and slowly brought it down. The flower bushes were pulled out – the pink hibiscus plant, the kakada bush, some turmeric. And finally the curry leaf tree. The tree was pulled out and flung aside easily, and the workers stopped work for a while. It was brought back, leftover leaves plucked out and distributed amongst themselves before being thrown away. The JCB driver called out for his share to take home.

They got to the red hibiscus bush after clearing the fencing. One worker asked the driver to spare it. “Has grown so well, and is close to the edge, why remove it, let us leave it”. They then got to the two trees standing inside – the Mango tree and the Parijatha tree(Nyctanthes arbor-tristis). “I’ll remove the Parijatha tree, and spare the Mango” the driver offered. The trees were a few inches apart, almost growing attached to each other. They were at least two feet from the drain, so I knew I had some convincing to do. The thing in my favour was that these trees were in the same line as the Sampige tree(Magnolia champaca) in the corner and 2 feet from there too. I told them that since they would be sparing that tree in any case, bringing down these two trees makes no sense. “It’s not like a vehicle can pass here!”

The driver’s argument was that his instructions were to pull down every tree that wasn’t BBMP’s! I pointed out that a tree is a tree, whether it is BBMP’s or not, and now that it was in the road, it hardly belonged to us in any case. Of course, it’s a different matter that the same BBMP doesn’t turn up to fight for its trees when they are pulled down when houses are being constructed!

After much convincing, and coaxing, he agreed to let it be. “If someone asks, don’t put the blame on us!” and he conceded the tree. The thechi(Ixora coccinea) in the corner was also pulled out and that was it. Then they began digging out the soil, to bring it to the same level as the road. “Bag irukuda?” (have a bag?) asked the workers. What for? “Mannu” (soil).

***

The thota itself was a “gift” from our contractor. He brought in 2 truckloads of red soil, created a barbed wire fence and left it to us. The parents planted the trees and the plants that they needed for their daily use. It was predominantly floral because of that. The mango tree came up by accident. After eating a mango, Appa tossed the seed in there, just to see if something comes up. Something did.

For me, more than the loss of the plants itself, it is what those plants meant. The hibiscus bush once hosted a nest of Red-whiskered bulbuls. Spring is heralded by purple-rumped and purple sunbirds chirping all over the garden. Tailorbirds bathed on the leaves in summer in the excess water from the overhead tank after it overflows. Great tits, Warblers tweeted and clicked around. The odd Signature spider turned up in August. Monsoons brought out snails, toads and slugs. Caterpillars spun their cocoons on the bushes and emerged as butterflies.

It wasn’t just a thota, it was an ecosystem in itself. Yes, it was illegal. We had taken over what was earmarked as footpath space. The road had three layers – the storm water drain, space for the footpath, and then the road itself. The current demolition of gardens is scary in a lot of ways. The storm water drain, which lies around 9 inches above ground is expected to serve the purpose of footpath. Never mind that it is barely a foot in width, and is 9 inches above ground. What used to be the footpath is now taken over by the road, so that people can park their cars outside. The glut of cars all over has meant that passing cars barely squeeze through the gap between parked cars. But this was on the perpendicular roads, where there were no gardens in the first place.

Yes, I try to justify the thota. It was illegal, on public property. I wish we had larger space to be able to make a thota inside the property, but that’s not possible. Pots don’t create the same wilderness as a rooted ground. But it was a green space, in a locality where trees are being cut down by almost every other new house, and if not, pruned by BESCOM as they continue to refuse to move electric wires underground. Trees now grow slanted, away from the wires, and in some cases, like a ‘Y’, letting the wires pass in the gap. Who said trees are not intelligent?!

I already miss the toads that used to hop all over the roads when it rained. The day after a rainy night you could see carcasses of toads littering the street, flattened by passing cars. There were also sparrows and babblers that my parents used to leave rice for. You miss a day, and they’d remind you, sitting on the grill, calling out. There were fireflies flitting around, occasional pulses of light in the darkness.

There are no sparrows left near my house. I see them in an older area as I walk to the bus stop. What used to be once a village, with houses that also have cattle sheds, where people sit outside washing vessels or combing each others’ hair. Sparrows chirp around while calves walk the streets.

I had left a bird feeder on the mango tree, it was untouched. The birds that visit come for the flowers and the bugs. I had hung out a bird house behind the hibiscus bush, but none came. At one point a neighbour remarked to my father – “Haven’t seen you in a long time, don’t see your house these days also.” It was covered behind bushes and trees.

***

Moving on, I hope to put up a terrace garden. But that wouldn’t have the kind of wilderness a thota has. The birds that visit won’t be the same. Once the road is done, I need to think up some way to grow some plants again, just for the birds, the bugs, the snails, slugs and the spiders. A place that they can visit. “Laws” be damned.

Zen in the city?

Have you been woken up at 1 AM? By the sound of large 100 Kg stone slabs being dropped? Trust me, it’s not nice. First there is denial – “this can’t be happening”. Then there is annoyance – “WTF?!”. Then there is anger. You walk out, confront them. Turns out it’s BBMP this time delivering slabs to cover the storm water drains. But surely, there’s a better time to do that?

“We’ll be done sir, only 20 stones to go” he promises. You call the police. The police control room forwards the call to the local police station. The local police station calls you. “Should we come over?”. You hand over your phone to one of the workers. The police have a chat, and they talk to me. “He says only 10 minutes, what do you want us to do?” I agree to give them 10 more minutes. They finish in 7 and leave, not before giving me a cheeky “Sorry for the disturbance”, in English.

Fun part is, despite so many houses all around, not one even opened a window to as much as check what’s happening. It could’ve been someone stealing stuff, or dumping stones from other places in your area. Would you care? Would you speak up?

A few weeks back, I opened the window to talk to a neighbour who’s car reverse horn just rendered a full version of Vandemataram at 1:15 AM. “Dude, WTF?” He thinks I am referring to some stray dogs shouting near him. “What can I do?”, I ask him to tone down on the vehicle. “Not my car boss, company’s and they’ve installed it.” Well, at least don’t park on reverse when you’re late! “ok” he agreed grudgingly. He followed it for a week, then doesn’t bother. I know I can’t push it too far, people can be touchy about their cars, and being asked to pipe down. The threatening “Ei!” comes out sooner than later.

The fun part is that reverse horns have been banned since 2014. A lot of cars still get sold, brand new, with these horns installed by the showrooms. A complaint with the traffic police got a “Check with RTO” as response. RTO isn’t easy to communicate with. Means, you just suffer idiots taking their cars out early in the morning, or parking it in late in the night.

What is it about people that makes them lose all sense of civic sense when it comes to cars? The number of times I’ve had to hurriedly shield my mother from being knocked down by a speeding car which refuses to slow down, even though we’ve entered a part of the road which is too narrow and can’t get out before he reaches us! I even signal him to slow down as we can’t move anywhere. He doesn’t care. It’s scary! People die. And someone actually complained on Twitter that pedestrians are at fault for coming in front of vehicles. Yes, get killed in 1000s per year and get blamed for it.

I wonder why am the only person who seems to be bothered by this ridiculous noise pollution at odd hours. Surely others would also wake up because of this noise? The answer seems to be a case of “neevoo maadalva?” (don’t you also do this?) The entire city suffers all things thrown at it, in the hope and need that one day they’ll have to do something similar and don’t want to be disturbed at that time. Better not be the first stone thrower.

As more people buy cars, it is unlikely there’ll be any respite from this nonsense. People seem to leave their brains at home, and drive only on ego. The solution might be to train the brain to ignore noises, especially when sleeping. The direction am taking seems to be the opposite. Reverse horns seem to bring out some stress in me, that my brain is recognising as an alarm call to alert me about. This results in me being woken up in the middle of the night even from deep sleep, and in a sense of agitation that makes it harder to get back to sleep. Normal horns sounded as some vehicles pass by don’t seem to have the same effect.

The entire city runs on saying “don’t care”. Got woken up by some noise? Give it a few minutes and you can sleep again. No noise lasts for ever. Maybe there is some Zen in the way people respond to disturbances. Should everyone be emulating this? But when do you take a stand? How much is too much?

This and that

Well, it’s been a while, but I knew this day would come. A day when I’d be staring at an empty post, needing to fill it in, and not having any pictures to describe. Nope, I haven’t gone gallivanting anywhere, so no photos to share. My bike is running good, so no problems there. Touch wood.

If anything, my stomach is throwing a lot of burn. A bad infection does that to you. And medicines to fix that. I guess they are working, as the pain and incidences of it have been reducing with each day. I am staying away from coffee, with just tea and milk.

Not sure where I got the infection from though. Depends entirely on how long a bacterial infection takes to show itself. If it’s a few days then it would be something from Saturday evening. I really doubt Sunday evening, as no one else seems to have been affected. Even Saturday sounds a tad doubtful cos of the same reason. Could it be a water based one? But the symptoms of those are a lot different! Oh well, enough discussing my stomach problems, I’ll plow on with a bit of pain in the stomach.

June has traditionally been the month I fall sick. The onset of the monsoons and the change from summer to a cooler weather does things to me. Or maybe it is plain bad luck. Can’t beat last year though! That has to be the worst, needing a whole week off from work. To save a day’s leave I tried to get myself up to work on the Friday. Couldn’t manage more than a few minutes.

The arrival of the Monsoons also means that I put on hold all travel plans, except for Monsoon specific plans. It doesn’t help to go get drenched anywhere. It’s not a time for safaris, nor a time for beaches. Treks are interesting and I am really keen on trying one out this Monsoon, maybe one at Agumbe with the leeches. Need to see.

I miss the times spent around the Jog belt in 2013 and 2015 though. The 2015 one was depressing, with not a spot of rain, dried up rivers and waterfalls, and people all over complaining about the lack of rains. Last year seemed to be worse, although from what I’ve heard it was better further North of Karnataka. Only the Kaveri onwards things have been really bad. I really want it to rain well this year. With a strong El Niño looming over the latter half of the year things can get really bad next year.

Talking of climate, it is interesting how Trump’s pulling out of the Paris accord has brought climate change into the conversation. And am surprised, in fact, shocked, to notice how many people around me are deniers. These are educated engineers who I work with every day, who’s opinion goes like “Do you expect me to believe that we humans who are such a tiny portion of this large planet can actually influence things on it?”. And “This is natural. Earth goes through such processes.” I tried the usual things. But making people understand and shake up their opinions and facts isn’t really an easy thing. It goes way beyond facts.

And then there was another who agreed with me, but kept insisting that nothing will happen to the planet. This is the usual George Carlin line of “we’re fucked, the planet will still be here.” Of course, who is complaining about the planet as a physical entity in the first place?! But it is good to make sure you set your viewfinder from time to time. He also added his own thing to the list – magnetic poles might change soon, exposing us to cosmic rays.

It is pointless to argue that life is threatened on the planet by our activities – “Life always goes extinct from time to time”. “We, humans, will find some way to exist.” Unless you really care, it is hard to convince a person that species going extinct in the planet because of you is not a good thing. Yes, we might continue to exist, but it’ll be a lot more precarious existence, where we have to deal with a lot more intense climatic events in a cooked up planet. As a species, humans will not likely be wiped out, but the evidence increasingly points towards it. And more importantly, we don’t know what’s in store. We’ve never lived in such a warmed up planet. The duration when we seemed to have multiplied and prospered is a mere 100 years. We reached 1 billion only in 1800 and the next 1 billion in 125 years! The last 5 have been added in 90 years! Remember that until then our growth was kept in balance by a combination of war, disease and other factors. The larger chunk being disease, not war.

As Yuval Noah Harari argues in his book, this period of 100 years(less if we consider the post WWII timeframe) where we seem to have seen a lot of “prosperity” might just be a calm before the storm. It is unprecedented. Of course, you cannot talk to people all this. Belief systems aren’t about facts, as the oatmeal so clearly puts it.

But then, having individuals believe or not believe in something that is going to fuck with most of your species is hardly going to make any difference. The biggest difference has to come top-down. One only hopes it does. Although these days am rooting for climate change to do its thing so that the planet can get this over with. And start afresh.

Until then, would be better for me not to get worked up when I hear so much idiocy. God knows, there is no shortage of it!