Widespread Hail Damage over Maharashtra, India


Many parts of the state of Maharashtra in India were battered by violent hailstorms during late February and early March 2014. Extensive damage to standing crops has been reported. Prof R R Kelkar participated in a TV discussion on this subject on the Marathi channel “ABP Majha” on 4 March 2014. The video recording is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQo6l3BAsi8

Filmy Weather (24): “A Rainy Day” or a Day of Reckoning



“A Rainy Day” is a Marathi film with an English title. I was curious to know what it was about; so I went to see it first-day-first-show.   

Aniket (Subodh Bhave) is a successful man, and Mugdha (Mrinal Kulkarni) is the woman behind him. However, Aniket is not only successful; he is ambitious, corrupt and ruthless. Mugdha is honest and has her own set of values to live by. The film is basically about of Mugdha’s sruggle with herself. It is on a rainy day that things which were supposed to be secret get revealed one by one in a bizarre way, but at the end she finds liberation.

“A Rainy Day” had to have rain and a lot of it too. But for once, the rain felt real and authentic. The sound was particularly real. One could hear thunder as if it came from outside the theatre. And one could feel and hear the rain as if it was raining inside the theatre. The skies looked really grey. One could imagine being in the driver’s seat, the windshield wipers working hard, and yet unable to see much beyond. And one tried to light a candle on the grave while it poured incessantly. And one was really walking slowly in the rain without an umbrella. The entire film was rain-soaked as every important event was accompanied by rain of appropriate intensity.

“A Rainy Day” surely makes you think about many things. Like why do you wait for the monsoon eagerly every year? For meeting your needs of drinking water, for raising crops, of course. But after watching “A Rainy Day” you feel that you need the monsoon for an annual cleansing of the sins of the body, soul and spirit.     


Cyclone Madi, an Aimless Wanderer


Source: IMD web site

INSAT-3D Image 8 Dec 2013 0230 UTC (Source: IMD web site)

After Phailin, Helen, and Lehar, it is now Madi, the fourth successive cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in eight weeks. Cyclone Phailin had a straight line path and the landfall point could be predicted well in advance. There was enough time for a massive evacuation drive to be executed and for TV camera teams to place themselves at Gopalpur to give a live account of the arrival of the storm.

Helen was a much weaker storm and it had a shorter track as well. Lehar was another severe cyclonic storm. But it was different from Phailin. It looked as if Lehar was hesitant to strike the coast. Eventually it adopted a self-destructive path, went into cooler seas, and ended in a whimper far away from land. Lehar was like a left-over Diwali phataka (loud cracker) that failed to burst.

As I write this post on 8 December 2013, Madi is a cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal, and it is currently threatening no one in particular. As a BBC World News weathercaster put it, Madi is aimlessly wandering. Weather prediction models are not able to predict for sure where Madi is heading or what is going to happen to it. It is even said to be in quasi-stationary motion for whatever that means.

I have always felt that every cyclone has a mind of its own. So for meteorologists, cyclone prediction still largely remains a guessing game. As for the modelers, every new cyclone only brings an old message that they yet have a long way to go… 

Ek “Lehar” si utthi hai abhi

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If winter comes, can spring be far behind? If Helen comes and goes, can Lehar be far behind?

On 22 November 2013, as cyclone Helen made landfall on the Indian coast, another storm was seen brewing in the southeastern corner of the Bay of Bengal (Satellite image source: IMD web site) If this system develops into a full-fledged cyclone, it would be named “Lehar” as per the naming system in vogue. It could take a long time for Lehar to reach the Indian coast, if it does indeed. In the mean time, the name reminds me of an old ghazal written by Mohammed Abdul Quadeer and sung by Ghulam Ali in 1981. Singing in his inimitable style, Ghulam Ali had told us how life is made worth living by breezes of freshness in the midst of turbulent waves.

Dil mein ek lehar si utthi hai abhi
Koi taaza hawa chali hai abhi…

Waqt accha bhi aaye ga
Gham na kar zindagi pari hai abhi

(There’s a wave rising in my heart
There’s a fresh breeze blowing now…
But good times will return, so don’t be sad,
There’s a whole life to live even now…)

As we watch cyclones come and go, we may as well spend some time listening to Ghulam Ali at


Filmy Weather (23): Waiting for “Helen”



The severe cyclonic storm which is expected to hit India’s eastern coast on 22 November 2013, has been named Helen. So far, most Indians have associated this name with the famous dancer of Indian films, Helen. While waiting for the cyclone to make landfall, I remembered many of Helen’s popular and evergreen dance songs, which are all about waiting expectantly for someone. One of her dance songs even gives us tips about survival on earth. Here are a few songs picturized on Helen:

“Aaj ki raat koi aane ko hai…” (Film: Anamika, 1973, Asha Bhosle)

“Piya tu ab to aaja…” (Film: Caravan, 1971, Asha Bhosle)

“Koi aaya aane bhi de….” (Film: Kaala Sona, 1975, Asha Bhosle)

“Aa jane jaan…” (Film: Inteqam, 1969, Lata Mangeshkar)

“Is duniya mein jeena ho to sun lo meri baat…” (Film:Gumnaam, 1965, Lata Mangeshkar)

What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot, I say


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An article about Prof R R Kelkar entitled “Weatherman” has appeared in the Maharashtra Times, Pune, on 24 October 2013. It is in Marathi.

Here is the link for online reading


Lessons from Cyclone Phailin


An article in Marathi by Prof R R Kelkar about the lessons that should be learnt from the management of Cyclone Phailin, has been published in the Maharashtra Times of 20 October 2013. Here is the link to the online article


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