In the bleak? mid-winter

“fiery winds made moan!”. As a hot strong dry wind whistled around the cottage the other afternoon, I remarked on it to Thirupathi, who said “well, it is winter”. And of course mid-February is about the time when Tamils reckon that early winter (the months of Maarkali and Thai) gives way to late winter (the months of Maasi and Pankuni).

Here on the central plains of Tamil Nadu, winter is characterised mainly by pleasant temperatures and dryness. Apart from the very rare and welcome shower (like this morning), the bulk of the rain fell during the retreating monsoon in October and November, and we shan’t see much more until July, when the odd shower might spill over the edge of the Western Ghats from Kerala. I’ll blog another time about the current water crisis, and the increasingly acerbic water wars between the south Indian states.

Reports from up north tell a different story. January and February around Delhi are characterised by temperatures close to freezing, and by fog (and its bad brother, smog). This is the time when flights in and out of Delhi are regularly delayed.

Fog also affects the railways. The Hindu reported a few weeks ago on a particularly bad weekend for the north Indian railway system, when all trains were delayed and some were cancelled. A few were reduced to travelling at 9km per hour, and one in particular caught my eye. The Express from Delhi to Vadodara, I think it was, is scheduled to make the journey in 23½ hours. At the time of reporting that weekend, it had been on the way for 115 hours 24 minutes, and had not yet arrived.

Unfortunately the following day’s Hindu failed to follow up this fascinating story. I wonder did it ever get there?

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