Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane HaHa

If only I had decided to spend this past weekend in some remote forest, completely cut off from civilization, without network coverage would I still believe that Irene was just Sherlock Holmes' evasive love interest. Given the continuous hammering given by the news channels and news websites, I have no choice but to know now, that  Irene is/was also a hurricane. Hurricanes are not new to the US, with places like New Orleans, North Carolina, and even provinces like Puerto Rico, Bahamas being so used to hurricanes, that they have an additional season - the hurricane season. But Hurricane Irene came and went like a breeze. Except that the media refused to let it just go! And decided that everyone else had to endure non-stop hammering with senseless, meaningless news all day long. Rains ensured that one couldn't step out. And news channels ensured that one could not tolerate sitting inside the house. Why did I spend time watching the news? Well, soaps need some conditioning to get used to (pun intended), Netflix was being rude and after a while the idiocy of the news got super hilllarious!

So what started as a category 4 storm projected to hit North Carolina, got downgraded to category 2 by the time the weekend approached. And when it finally arrived over the weekend, it became a category 1 or rather a tropical storm, much like the winds that lash Mumbai's sea face during the monsoons. But the hype had been built, the speeches written and Bloomberg exhorted New Yorkers to buckle up and face this adversity, as they were after all living in the 'world's best city'. Clearly he hasn't visited Tokyo, or Paris or Mumbai! And Fox and CNN had found a reason to finally ditch Gaddafi. They started 3 days before the weekend with continuous analysis of the storm, and expert views on which way the wind should ideally blow. Then followed a big discussion of the psyche of New Yorkers who were worried about the hurricane, given that all they've faced so far was light rain in the wake of hurricanes hitting elsewhere. There were special reports with people saying that they were stocking up ropes, wooden boards, flashlights, clearing up their patio and worrying about what they would do in the wake of the wind! Then the hurricane arrived and in typical 'Khoda pahaad nikla chooha style', it ended up being a whooshing wind with some rain.But the stories continued. They had to, given that they had already ditched Gaddafi. So came a video of a rotund guy swimming in shin deep water on 160th street with the newscaster proclaiming how New Yorkers, as always, found something positive to turn any situation around, saying, "What do you do when life hands you lemons? Make lemonade!" People, on their part, took the cue and got scared. Definitely in NYC, and also all over the east coast. Bread vanished from shelves in my nearby grocery store, and flashlights and batteries are still missing!

Unfortunately, the crumbling infrastructure ensured flooding ensued and swaying old trees broke on electricity cables rendering a greater part of the east coast powerless - literally too! So the vanished flashlights perhaps came to good use, given that 4 days after a wind blew, most gas stations still don't work. and a greater part of East Coast Americans are out of power. Floods were all over the place. Basements flooded, people complained, and Tylenol ads have since been on an overdrive.

Mumbai, on an average has faced rains. Our prediction systems are not as wonderful, and no one knew 26 July 2005 would inundate all of Mumbai. Almost every year we have intense rains, leaky ceilings, waterlogged roads, and transport is painfully slow. But somehow, the panic is never there. No vanishing flashlights, no stockpiling of food, and no weather channel on primetime television. I must say, people here, the media in particular have psyches as volatile as the weather! Given a choice, the media could sense a breeze and call it Hurricane Haha and all of America would definitely react!

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