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The mother of all disturbances

'Western disturbance' could be behind a majority of problems in our world today, writes Sonal Kalra.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2007, 17:15 IST

I am a layperson and have always been one of those average intelligent sorts with no apparent misgivings about the extent of their insight. But I think today I might have landed myself a jackpot of sorts... or maybe of thoughts.

My tryst with serendipity is not "breaking news" material but it is sure worth a few minutes of pondering over when you have nothing better to do. I think I've chanced upon the one big reason behind a majority of problems in our world today. And my biggest helper in this discovery is our good old Met Department. It all started with my quest for a term they are as obsessed with using as the US is about its economy. And it is a term I absolutely understand nothing about. Call me ignorance personified if you will, but pray, what on earth do we mean by "western disturbances"?

When January passed off in Delhi without so much as a drop of rain, the "western disturbances" were to blame. And when February was recently experiencing freak outpour, the culprit was again the incorrigible "western disturbances". We hear them say it all the time, as a reason for everything - from drought to rain and from thunder to hailstorm.

And the meaning of it always escapes me each time, no matter how agile and prepared I am to catch it.

So much so that it set me thinking if there was something more to this innocuous sounding demon of a phrase than just freak weather. And then it dawned upon me that it was actually numero uno when it came to culprits in the world.

"Who's causing innumerable innocent deaths in Iraq everyday?" I asked a friend over lunch.

"Er.... US and Britain?" she replied, not quite sure how Iraq figured vis-à-vis the Chinese meal.

"Well... broadly?" I prompted further. "The West," she replied.

"Hmmm.... ‘western disturbances’," I mumbled.

The TV news in the evening lamented about the sudden plunge of the Mumbai Stock Exchange and down with it went some hard-earned money we had invested. Well, what are you thinking fellas? Where is Mumbai after all? - "western disturbances" striking our lives again!

I figured that with a little bit of lateral thinking we could safely attribute most of the prevailing ills from Mulayam Sigh Yadav's nightmares caused by a village called Nithari in the west of Uttar Pradesh, to my grandmother worrying endlessly about how the cultureless West has eroded our values, to well "western disturbances".

The term simply glides in and fits like a glove in any scheme of things and reigns supreme when it comes to creating havoc.

The TV news is on again. It snowed heavily in Shimla last night, unprecedented for this time of the year. Some expert with a blue tie and a perpetual grim look is in the channel's studios for an analysis. I know the answer even before he begins. "Western disturbances...." he starts.

I smile.

Our surfer Sonal Kalra can be reached at


All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of

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