The annual solar sojourn brings us to this important day of the year. Thursday, 21 June 2018 is the June solstice (also called the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and winter solstice in the southern hemisphere).
So a lot of things!
The sun’s position relative to Earth is directly above the Tropic of Cancer on that day. This, of course, means that at that latitude, the insolation is vertical, 90˚. The angle of insolation is the angle between a beam of incoming solar radiation and Earth’s surface.
The days have been getting longer and longer for six months now, the weather is warmer in the northern hemisphere, particularly around the 23.5˚N latitude (Tropic of Cancer).
Fruits … and bats!
The temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and precipitation have combined to slightly delay the mango season. And along came the Nipah virus scare and depressed the sale of mangoes for a while.People feared that fruit bats carrying the Nipah virus had bitten into mangoes in orchards and made the fruit dangerous for human consumption. Mango sales flagged for a while and the prices came down somewhat. Even so, lots of people have continued to eat and enjoy mangoes this season. Myself included, yes!
I felt that the nungu (palmyra palm, or borassus) season was a little short this year. However, I managed to have this delicious fruit several times within this short period of time!
Melons of various kinds were, at one time, only available in the summer months. How wonderfully full of water in the heat and thirst; the sugars to give us energy; the pulp to give us fibre (roughage); and the pleasure of the sensation of chewing them in the mouth (food professionals call this mouth-feel, I am told). Nowadays, however, most fruits of the melon family are available pretty much throughout the year.
Seasonal foods are important to have not only for nutritional reasons, they are also important for cultural and psychological reasons. I find that having seasonal foods helps me ‘swing’ with the rhythms of Earth. It just feels great. Perhaps this is also some kind of nostalgia at play. Perhaps I am trying to recollect the seasonal rhythms of my childhood. Regardless, it is fun to have seasonal foods.
Here, in Bengaluru, the southwest monsoon clouds arrived around 2 June. However, most of the clouds have been racing past. Heavy, dark grey behemoths just hurtling along.
I take this very personally! I attribute moral, psychological, and ethical characteristics to these clouds. Why should Kālidāsa be the only one to treat them as sentient beings? Also, the yaksha (the protagonist in Meghadūtam) had a very ulterior motive – to get the cloud to deliver a message to his yakshinī up north somewhere. So, he lavished praise on the cloud like there was no tomorrow! Full maska means maska! “You are great, you are generous, you are majestic”, and so on.
Me? I expect them to be diligent and drop a lot more rain here on Bengaluru than they have been doing in recent years. Somebody ought to have a stern word with these fellows! Vagabonds, the lot of them. No sense of duty, purpose, or even just plain decency. They appear on the horizon, seem to fly low, raising expectations (or anxiety if you have to go out somewhere on a two-wheeler or in a taxi), and then just run along mocking us! Just who do they think they are?
On the other hand, are they aware of the sorry state of the drainage system of Bengaluru that we have created through our unbridled greed? May be the clouds have had a deep discussion on their way from the Arabian Sea en route to the low-pressure belt up above the Ganga plains. Did some of them tell the others, “Don’t forget about Bengaluru! Back in the day, they had some wisdom and had built a great system to handle whatever rain we poured on them. Now, though, the fools have totally messed everything up. If we give them the kind of rain we used to give them, they’ll probably perish, the poor blighters! So, we should just shower them with a little bit of water and keep moving along, what do you all say?” The other clouds, more followers than leaders, probably all nodded and said, “Yeah, ya! You’re right, ya! Okay, ya!”
And we have had less rain than we should have had by now.
During my school days in Bengaluru, 847 years ago, we had something called government rain. Work-day started at 10:30. People used to leave home by about 9. By about 8:27 am, it would start raining. In the rain, people would go to the bus stop, catch that elusive bus, and get to work. At about 11:08 am it would stop raining.
Work day officially ended at 5 p.m. Many people, especially in government offices, would start packing up for the day by about 4:19 pm to return home. Hah! Nice try, office-goers! It would start coming down by 4:29 pm! So, they would have to catch a bus in the rain and come by about 6:30 or 7pm. And at about 7:09pm, it would stop raining.
Repeat on the morrow.
People felt that only the government could time rains in such a stupid way. Hence the name government rain (ಸರಕಾರೀ ಮಳೆ).
- In the conference among the southwest monsoon clouds, I had a few leader clouds saying that Bengaluru used to be better drained at one time, but not any more. How could those clouds have that kind of memory? (If you play with the concept of the water cycle, you could envisage this dialogue rather easily.)
- Do you have any feelings about seasonal foods? If yes, why? If not, why not?
- Which seasonal fruits have you had this season? Which ones have you missed?
Featured image: Flying fox distribution. Source: https://goo.gl/CviXHx [Last accessed on 11 Aug. 2018]
A version of this article appeared in the Deccan Herald Student Edition, 20 June 2018