It was the evening of the 7th of January. I sipped on a matcha iced tea while I waited for my takeaway order of almost one of everything, to get ready. I’m not sure what came first, the few droplets of water on my arms or the sound of ‘tip tip barsa pani’ blaring through the overhead speakers. I’ll admit I was more aghast at the latter. That song in Ping’s felt utterly out of place. And maybe that was the point. It was interesting to note the restaurant staff’s sense of humour as they all stood behind the bar with their toothy, wide grins.
The rains went from 0 to 100 in no time, requiring two of the waiters to help me to my car, protecting the food parcel and me, from the heavy downpour. As a soaked me, sat at the dining table and removed the food from its damp containers at a friend’s house in Moira, my friend Phil said, “Climate change is here.”
I had just returned to Goa a few days earlier from visiting family in Pune. I looked forward to returning to the sandy beaches, to laying down and baking in the sun. And although the weather did seem sultry (er than it usually is around this time of year), I definitely did not remotely imagine the grey clouds coming and raining on my parade. For around five days from the 4th of January onwards, we received a few bouts of heavy, torrential rainfall. Yes, in January. Now let that sink.
Just a few days later, during an online Tedx event I hosted, Tammy, an active community member from Guirim, North Goa, talked about how she always carries an umbrella in her car during these times of unpredictable weather but notices that others seem to get caught off guard. I admit that even though my work involves multiple conversations around climate change, I am hardly ever well prepared. Tammy went on to tell the group of virtual attendees about a gentleman farmer in her neighbourhood who lost a bunch of his crops because of the untimely shower. Note to self: remember to always have rain protection gear around, and to check in with all the hobby growers I know.
Even though meteorological departments of Maharashtra and Goa warned farmers not to irrigate their crops over the course of those few days, a lot of vegetable and fruit crops are in their early growth stages around January and so even if they’re not directly destroyed by over watering, they get attacked by pests which then involves a lot of work, time and money for the farmer.
Amidst these climate hazards, are the ongoing battles between sustainability and urban development - roads versus rivers, buildings versus lakes, railways versus forests and other bullet points in the never-ending debate between those that are pro-urbanisation and those that are pro-sustainable development. Our very own beautiful, life-giving Mollem forest stands at the sharp end of the axe called ‘progress’. Less forest ecosystems might first lead to excessive rains and floods and then perhaps no water at all -- droughts.
I for one want nothing but abundant sunshine for Goa during all months barring monsoon. I hope you will join me in sending this wish across the universe, because it was raining in January in Goa. Yes, really.