When did Delhi get wary of its weather extremes?

  • Shivani Singh, Metro Editor, Hindustan Times
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  • Updated: Jan 21, 2013 00:03 IST

For someone in charge of a team that is responsible for filing weather reports among other things that affect the city, I never let the forecast get me down. I do watch out for morning and late evening fog while planning a journey during the winter. But that was all about it till last Friday when I had to cancel a long-planned food tour to the walled city because my friends developed cold feet.

Yes, the Met department got it right. It did pour, with hailstorm and all, but on Friday morning and not in the evening when we had planned the outing. But my friends, an otherwise adventurous lot, were not ready to take a chance and called off the programme two days in advance.

Weather is a great equaliser in the capital where the right connections can fix everything. Luckily, we do not yet aspire to control the elements like China did by shooting rain dispersal rockets in Beijing to ensure that no downpour spoilt the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics.

In pre-24x7 TV days, when weather reporting was not a big-ticket assignment and forecasts did not become headlines, we just took the weather in our strides. Much like now, winter was always cold, summer searing and monsoon, which never arrived "officially" on June 29, meant waterlogging and backflows.

Schools always reopened in the first week of January. We turned up in our winter uniforms -- a sweater, a blazer, a warm scarf, all-season thin-soled white canvas shoes and cotton skirts -- at 7 am to catch the school bus. It was never too cold, foggy or warm to attend school. We never even had a rainy day announced at the school.

Conversations about the weather were scorned by Oscar Wilde as the "last refuge of the unimaginative" but it was always fun to scare first-time visitors to the city with Dilli ki Sardi and blazing summer. So what if Mumbai was so cool and Kolkata very cultured, we always had our two-and-a-half seasons to flaunt. Delhi's weather was part of its identity.

According to a survey YouGov poll published in the Telegraph, almost 70 per cent of Britons checked the weather forecast at least once a day while for more than half of them, conversation turned to climate at least once every six hours. We still have some catching up to do with Londoners but Delhi's fixation with the weather seems to be growing.

If media coverage is any pointer, the weather is occupying far more mind space than before. Even mood swings are now blamed on it. Delhi's infamous road rage is being attributed to the searing summer heat and depression to cold foggy winters. Perhaps the more we get used to the comfort of air-conditioned cars, homes and offices, the more sensitive we get to the natural extremes.

In our weather-proof lifestyles, we rarely see ourselves enjoying the outdoors. Delhi offers more than three acres of open space per 1,000 people as compared to 0.03 acres in Mumbai.

But how many times have you thought of spending a day in the park even on days when the sky was not perpetually cloaked? So many people are complaining of Vitamin D deficiency because they have minimal exposure to the sun.

We need to stay a step ahead of the weather to beat its unpredictability. So, the Met department will soon launch a mobile application to get you four-day forecasts for the four metros. But once in a while, it may not a bad idea to enjoy like we used to in the good old days what we have since been conditioned only to endure.


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